I know that many people make their charitable donations in December. Whether that's due to Christmas spirit or impending taxes, I don't know. What I do know is that while my intent to donate is good, I actually wind up giving less than I meant to, because I usually have less money left over than I meant to.
This year, I'm trying something new--monthly donations that come directly out of my checking account and are an integral part of my budget.
I chose three charities, two of them for writers, and one to a private middle school for special needs students that my youngest daughter attended. This was a hard decision to make--in harsh economic times, there are far too many places to put one's charitable dollars.
In the end, I was partly pursuaded to make the choices I did because I already work for a non-profit that serves low-income people. Given my wages compared to what others with my education make in the private sector, I figure I've already made one donation.
But in tough economic climates, the arts always take the biggest hit because they are considered expendable. One program I am contributing to conducts writing and journalling workshops among disadvantaged populations--the homeless, addicts in recovery, teen parents, etc. The other provides scholarships to a six-week science fiction writer's workshop that I attended and loved nearly 30 years ago.
I contribute to the private middle school because it saved my daughter's academic life and because, unlike her special needs high school, it does not have an endowment program.
One thing I am curious about is whether it is better for the charity itself to get my money on a monthly basis or as a lump sum. Since personally, doing it by the month ensures that I actually have the money to give to the charity and that they actually get it, I will continue to donate by the month. But is it the best way?