Every year, Americans donate billions of dollars to charitable causes. Whether it is a one-time gift or a monthly donation, millions of Americans give money to organizations nationwide, ranging from small gifts to massive bequests. And while we typically hear about the big gifts made by wealthy donors, it's actually lower income folks who give more, proportionally, to support community organizations: Per The Atlantic, in 2011, Americans with earnings in the top 20% of the population contributed an average of 1.3% of their income to charity while Americans with earnings in the bottom 20% donated 3.2% of their income.
So why should you consider making a donation? One reason is to entrust an organization to best apply your dollars how and where they are most needed. Staff members, board members, and volunteers at charitable organizations are working in the trenches on some of the toughest issues across the country; donations allow them to pay their staff, purchase needed supplies, and effectively serve communities using the effective practices of their field. Nonprofits fill the gap between what the private market offers and the public government provides; they advocate for change, fill gaps in existing services, and supplement public programs to make sure that fewer people are left behind. And while there are certainly entrepreneurial nonprofits out there who earn some or all of their income, many charitable organizations rely on donations to keep their doors open. Your dollars matter, as does your support. So if you care about the mission and programs of a specific organization, donating – whether you can give $5 or $5000 – is a way to invest in their future.
Ready to donate? Here are some ways you can do it:
- Identify an organization to which you'd like to give. One place to get started is with our Feminist Issues section; on each issue page, you'll see organizations focused on this cause or issue area listed in the right hand column.
- Give a one-time gift in any amount. You can do this during specific fundraising drives – like Giving Tuesday – or any day, any time that you're able to give. Don't worry about how much you can give though. Every dollar counts! Plus organizations pay attention to how many people give at any amount; they can use this data to apply for grants and demonstrate community support to other donors and supporters.
- Sign up for a monthly donation. This can be a great way to give more money over a longer period of time. $5 or $10 a month may not seem like much but, by the end of the year, you've donated $60 or $120 to an organization that needs your support!
- Participate in fundraising efforts. From fun runs to silent auctions, fundraising events can be a way to have a good time and learn more about an organization, all while contributing to their bottom line.
- Support Kickstarter, Indigogo, and GoFundMe efforts! Many entrepreneurial and start-up organizations get their start on crowdsourcing sites. Lend your support to new efforts by joining the crowd.
New to charitable giving? Visit Charity Navigator's “Tips for Donors” section to explore their advice on such topics as informed giving, questions to ask charities, and tax benefits of charitable gifts.