I know that many of my recent blog entries are on shopping sales and deals, and (somewhat...hehe) frivolous things like handbags and premium denim. But as the holiday season approaches, don't forget the warm fuzzies you get from giving.
A lot of non-profits are quite concerned this season as reports are coming in of decreased donations. During a time of economic slowdown, more and more people will come to rely on the services they provide, so it seems like a potentially explosive situation of collapsing social programs. More need but less support.
In the 90s when the federal government cut transfers, the Ontario government implemented a Common Sense Revolution that decimated the education system, the health care system, the welfare system and beyond. Basically everything received funding cuts as a way to trim the fat. And if you don't have a short memory, you will remember the consequences of these short-sighted actions. Things need not be quite so dire.
What can you do?
Donate! If you can't afford to donate money, donate your time, in-kind goods and expertise.
Especially if you have expertise and the time. A lot of these organizations have people with the passion, but not necessarily the right knowledge to make sure that they are reaching the most people in their target market, and using their resources as efficiently as possible.
If you do have the means and not the time, take care into researching where your donation dollars go. Some of the top charitable organizations are very effective in reaching their mandate.
United Way is one such organization. They have a rigorous process in place to ensure that the NGOs they provide funding for are established organizations with solid business plans, and really just need the money to run their campaigns.
Another organization I support is the Daily Bread Food Bank. Yes, their services are very much band-aid solutions, but they really do provide one of the key necessities in life for those who cannot afford it. Food. For the food bank, I also believe giving cash is the best thing you can do, because they have much stronger purchasing power than you do as an individual.
So this holiday season as you get together with your loved ones, make a day of it and volunteer at a local charity. Or incorporate donations into your gift giving.
My friends have switched from $50 Secret Santa gifts to $30 gift/$20 donation, where one person "wins" the donations to be applied to a charity of their choice under their name. This is a double-win since they also get the charitable donation tax receipt. :)