According to the website charitynavigator.org, Americans donated over $298 billion to charity in 2011. Philanthropy.com notes that the average amount given per household was 4.7 percent of discretionary income. Are you part of the giving trend? Here are a few reasons to consider making a donation to a worthy cause.
You’ll feel rich
Giving to others increases your capacity for love. It makes you realize that even if you don’t have much, you have enough to share with others. In fact, analysis of giving data shows that poor people donate a larger percentage of their income to charity than rich. Donating used clothes to a shelter, new shoes to foster kids, or money to a worthy organization will make you feel rich.
Be part of something bigger
Donating a little bit of money or time may not seem like much. But if your donation is joined with others, it becomes something much bigger. My family decided to donate some money to water.org. As I showed my children videos of children in Haiti fetching water out of a dirty river, their world view was enlarged. At the charity’s website, you can choose to donate to a specific well in a specific village, and progress towards the goal is shown. Many other charities have similar opportunities so you can see how your small donation really does make a big difference.
Join a cause
Foundations need research money to discover ways to cure diseases. Other non-profit organizations help different groups of people with specific needs. A lot of this money is raised through donations. You probably know people who run or bike a race to support a cause close to them. If you feel passionate about a cause like this, join a race or donate money or time.
Set an example
If you have children, donating to charity will show them you care about others and want to make the world a better place. If you involve your children in choosing charities, you will instill a desire to share and serve that will last throughout their lives. Grandchildren, nieces and nephews can also be influenced by your generosity towards others.
When I donate to charities, I feel grateful. I’m glad to have clean water to drink, cook with and use in my home. When I’ve made kits of supplies to be sent to disaster areas, I’m reminded how blessed I am to have a safe home and emergency supplies on hand. As you give food to a local food bank, or write a check for an organization that helps people in need, you can’t help but feel thankful for the blessings in your own life.
In the United States, the money you donate to charity can be taken as a deduction on your tax return. Although this isn’t the main reason I’d suggest donating to charity, it is a nice bonus. Keep records of money or property you donate so you can itemize correctly on your tax forms.
Lately, I’ve been singing a song to my children that I learned in school years ago. The song ends with the words “Love is something if you give it away; you end up having more.” I feel that way when I donate to charities that truly make a difference. I end up having more. When you donate to charity, you’ll feel the satisfaction that only giving can bring.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.