Q: We value the work of charities and believe very strongly in giving to good causes. Our income is down this year and we wonder if you have any suggestions on how we can keep giving even though we have less income?
A: Canadians are known as charitable people. Whether it's giving time or money, many Canadians are ready and willing to help wherever they can, at times to the expense of their own well-being.
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you plan your giving:
- Choose organizations that support causes you value. It's impossible to contribute to everyone, so this will maximize the effectiveness of your donations.
- Have a family meeting and plan your giving together. It's a great way to educate kids about global issues and how they can make a difference. They may want to give a portion of their money, too.
- Research the organizations to which you want to donate. Canada Revenue Agency is one source of information. Its website has a directory of all registered charities with general information about their work and their finances.
- Donating to registered charities can be beneficial at tax time. Find out how this may affect you.
- Look at your income and expenses when you decide how much to give. If you're in the red, you'll need to make adjustments to meet your giving goals.
- Choose to make your donations in a way that works with your budget. Charities are happy to accept your donations, even if you can only give a lump sum once a year.
- If your budget doesn't allow for cash donations, consider giving of your time and talents. No reputable charity wants to see you compromise your family's well-being for their sake.
When your finances are back on track, you can donate money again in the future.
Every donation, no matter how small, can help make a big difference. Even if a charity accepts "in kind" donations, it may be able to make money go further. If you're unsure of how to donate, look on its website or contact them directly.
Donating a percentage of your income may be what you've always done, but there are times when that may be too much. Review your financial situation periodically and make changes as needed.
Giving feels good and is tremendously appreciated by organizations that rely on your generosity.