I attended YNPN's discussion last Friday given by Rebecca Schreiber of Solid Ground Financial Planning, titled "Micro-philanthropy: Making a Big Impact with Small Contributions." I showed up expecting to hear several iterations of "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world," but instead I heard something much more selfish.
Schreiber centered most of her talk on how charitable giving, particularly small, recurring amounts, can actually help balance your budget. She did touch on how easy it is to be a part of that small group of committed citizens in the digital age, as well as a brief overview of giving advice, but what interested me the most was her discussion of how charitable giving can help you prioritize your purchases and get your financials in order.
"Anything that makes us stop and think 'Is this really what I want to spend my money on?' is a good thing," said Schreiber. Taking a step back to think about where we want to donate is an important part of smart giving/social investing, but that framework for decision-making can also apply to more typical, everyday transactions.
Schreiber said that the feeling we get from making a donation should be the same feeling we get from every purchase or financial transaction. We should feel confident about every purchase just as we feel confident that the donation we make is going to the right cause. This discernment will help to make less sporadic purchases and keep an eye on budgeting.
Taking an intentional step to give and give regularily may also help some of us (younger) people budget for the first time. To prioritize smart giving is to prioritize smart budgeting, as we need to be aware of our financials to be able to give back. We also need to know how much we have to know how much we can afford to give, and Schreiber answers the difficult question of how much to give by suggesting "No more than you save." (Of course, this then asks the question, How much to save?) She underlined the importance of smart giving, both in recipient and quantity, to ensure "your ability to give in the future."
Overall, I thought the presentation, while not exactly what I expected, helped me see charitable giving in a new way. I know it's unreasonable to think I can feel as good about every purchase I make as I do with my social investments (and it might not even be good to feel good about them), but it is interesting to think about how the tangible benefits of giving go not only to the recipient, but also to the donor.
The full version of the presentation is here, posted with permission.