Thursday, September 16, 2010

Being Intentional on a Small Budget

Like Helen mentioned in her blog post last week, I too, am a planner and like to have a budget. But as you can imagine, as a recent college graduate just finding her sea legs in the "real world", I'm not exactly sitting on a mountain of money. So in order for me to ensure my dollars have an impact, I've chosen to invest them in just two organizations that I feel passionately about and am intimately involved with as a volunteer.

Now, if I had a budget comparable to that of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, my strategy might be a little different, but the reality is, I'm just learning what it is like to have disposable income. So when I decided to create my modest charitable budget, I first evaluated my essential expense, and then picked the percentage of my income that I wanted--and was able--to invest back into my community.

With a rough dollar amount in mind, I chose two organizations whose missions closely matched my values and whose existences, I feel, play an integral part in my community. I am an active volunteer with both of these nonprofits as well, which gives me insight and confidence that my gift will be used responsibly. Additionally, being highly engaged makes my financial contribution that much more meaningful to me because I am personally invested in the life of these organizations.

I still budget for those sporadic requests from friends and family, but in light of my intentional focus, I do a little research before I turn over my contribution. I determine my gift based on how closely the mission of the organization matches the values I've elected to support, and I use the Charities Review Council's charity search to be assured that the organization is meeting basic sector standards of accountability.

While it wasn't long ago that every extra dollar earned was used to pay tuition, I have finally arrived at a point where I can be intentional and proactive with my giving. I'm still not a billionaire able to give away 50% of my worth to various charitable causes, but I've chosen to add charitable contributions to my budget and to be prudent with how those precious dollars are spent.

How have you chosen to be intentional with your giving on a small budget?

Check out Amy's blog post in two weeks about how to be strategic with your giving when you also need to consider the thoughts and opinions of your family.

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