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Third Annual 10 Day Give Starts Friday

September 30, 2010 · Filed Under Giving · 9 Comments 

Friday is the first day of October but it is also the first day of the “10 Day Give.”  If you are not familiar with it, the 10 Day Give is a challenge conceived by Bob over at ChristianPF.com.  Its purpose is summed up succinctly as a way to “get our minds off of ourselves and start thinking about how we can help others.”

If you read the title of the post, you know that this is the third annual 10 Day Give…so if you haven’t done it before, this is the year!  And if you have participated previously, keep the momentum going!  I was a bystander the first year but did participate last year…only I didn’t do a great job of actually helping others.  I didn’t “actively participate” all 10 days so this year I’m trying to do a better job.

So, I guess I will say that this post serves as my challenge to you (and even more so to me) to participate in this year’s event.  So what does that all mean? Well, head on over to the 10 day give site to get more info and sign up but it’s pretty much what you already think it is.  For 10 days starting October 1st, try to give something to someone each day (that’s it?  yep, that’s it…pretty simple).  It could be money but it doesn’t have to be.  It could be a gift but it doesn’t have to be.  Sure, you could buy someone a coffee or lunch but you could also give someone a gift for no reason or do something for someone or spend your time with someone.  Get creative…get inspired…get motivated…and get going (No, actually, wait until Friday…just kidding).

First stop: head over to ChristianPF and find out more information about the 10 Day Give and add your name to the list of participants.

PS: Most of this post was actually written to inspire and motivate myself…but if inspires and motivates anyone else then all the better!

Guest Post: 7 Reasons to Give More of Your Money To Charity

June 3, 2010 · Filed Under Giving · 6 Comments 
Today’s guest post is provided by Melissa Tamura.  Melissa Tamura writes about online degree programs for Zen College Life. She most recently edited the guide to the best online colleges.

“Charity” can be a loaded word that means something different to everyone. Charity can be pejorative, such as: “Those charity cases get money, sit on their backsides, and don’t work”. It can be a scornful word, meaning a break is being given because one is better than the other, for example: “Tom took the girl out on a charity date.”

It’s interesting how the word was first used, hundreds of years ago; “charity” meant “love”. It could almost be said that “charity” had a double meaning from the start. You give charity because you have charity. Charity, in its modern sense, means that we feel a kind of love when we give, even for those we may never meet.

People who need charity now, in large part, are people who never needed charity before. The ruined economy, predatory lenders, and the bank bailouts that helped no one except the banks have made a new class of poor in our country. Anyone who escaped relatively unscathed from the recent economic meltdown can thank their lucky stars by opening their wallets a little wider when it comes time to give to charity. Below are seven more very good reasons to give.

Tax Deductions

Lots of folks give to the charities of their choice for this reason. Others find it a nice reward for the charity they give. Whatever reason, give, keep the receipts, and claim it on next year’s taxes.

It Will Save You Money Long Term

This may sound in essence a bit cold, but here goes. Children who receive a good education, have someone who cares about them, and eat nutritious meals are more apt to finish school and stay out of trouble. Donate to boys and girls clubs, local schools, food banks and free lunch programs, or some other charity that helps out kids. You won’t have to pay in the future for new prisons, for one thing, and if spending for prisons isn’t throwing your money down a rat hole, what is?

You may need charity yourself one day.

Donate for research to learn the cure for cancer, HIV, MS, MD, diabetes; whichever charity speaks to you. Hopefully the cure will be found before you or someone you love is diagnosed with these illnesses.

Create a Lasting Legacy

Donate to building funds for hospitals, libraries, schools, your local church. Perhaps you aren’t rich enough to have a wing named after you, but your kids can tell your grandkids that you help build something important.

For Your Grandchildren

While we’re on the subject of grandkids, you do want them to experience clean water, fresh air, icebergs and wild animals, don’t you? Donate to environmental groups, wildlife groups, conservation groups; they’ll be glad you did.

Healthy for the Soul

It’s good to give, why else do we celebrate gift giving holidays? You don’t have to go around trumpeting how much money you give to a particular charity; you can celebrate that warm glow quietly and teach your kids to do the same. It’s only money, right? Put your money where your mouth is.

If not you, who will?

Sad but true. There are a significant number of folks who think being a cold hearted old skinflint is a sign of good character. Give to prove them wrong.

Guest Post: How To Avoid Donating to a Fake Charity

May 13, 2010 · Filed Under Giving · 1 Comment 
This guest post comes from Michael, a contributing editor of the Dough Roller, a personal finance and investing blog, and Credit Card Offers IQ, a credit card review site.

In the wake of one of the largest earthquakes the world has ever seen, donations continue to come in by the thousands to help Haiti rebuild. While the outpouring of support has been tremendous, a tragedy like this is also an excellent opportunity for someone to take advantage. Charities continue to do excellent work in helping those that cannot afford to help themselves but for every legitimate organization, there seem to be two illegitimate ones.

Pinpointing a fraudulent charity can be difficult at times and it is certainly not an exact science, but knowing what to look for and how to handle your donations in the future, should ensure that the money you are donating goes to the people that need your help. The next time you are courted to make a donation, follow the tips below to avoid donating to scammers.

  1. Never Make a Donation Over the Phone (Unless You Initiated the Call) – Legitimate charities do have a habit of cold calling for donations so many of the calls you receive could be real, however there is no way of knowing with a simple phone call if the person on the other line is who they say they are. If you are interested in their cause, ask them for the website information and offer to mail in a donation. Giving your credit card information over the phone is never a smart idea.
  2. Never Make a Donation In Cash – The easiest way to lose your donation to fraud is to give them something that cannot be traced. If the organization has a booth set up, feel free to write a personal check from your online checking account. If you’re mailing in your donation, provide a money order or check written in the name of the charity. Being asked to make the donation payable to “Reggie” is an automatic no-no. For tax purposes, keeping a paper record of your donation is important. If you’re unlucky enough to donate to a scam, the IRS may audit your tax return, which is definitely something you want to avoid.
  3. Never Make a Donation Through Email – Charities are fearful of being labeled as spam, so sending out mass-emails looking for donations doesn’t happen. If you ever see an email from someone stating to be a charity looking for a donation, there is an extreme amount of high-risk involved. Email is extremely un-secure and the link you click on to make your donation can take you absolutely anywhere.
  4. Gather As Much Information As You Can – Before making a final decision, make sure you have gathered all of the available information there is on your charity of choice. Finding information can be easy, and doing any of the following should put your mind at ease:

Ask to see the organizations tax-exempt letter from the IRS. If they do not have one, or are unwilling to provide it, think twice about why.

Visit the charities website and look for things such as good grammar, a permanent street address, success stories, an outline of what the charities goals are, financial statements that tell you where the money goes and a board of directors. If you see that they are lacking many of the things above, it’s another sign that they might not be who they say they are.

Visit the IRS’s website and look them up. The IRS lists over 1.5 million charitable organizations that they recognize and if your charity isn’t on the list, time to move on.

If you think that you’ve been taken, you should immediately call the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and file a complaint. 1-877-FTC-HELP begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-877-FTC-HELP      end_of_the_skype_highlighting (382-4357). Hopefully though, after reading the steps above to protect yourself, you never have a need for this phone number.

Our Attempt to Excel at Giving

April 9, 2010 · Filed Under Giving · 3 Comments 

I have been giving a lot of thought to our giving lately.  Maybe I have been motivated by my WBV post from last week on giving more than one is able, or maybe I was inspired by reading Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle, mostly, though, I think I was spurred on by my wife.  Whatever the reason, now seems like a great time to try to increase our percentage of giving.

Big changes

Allow me to explain…my wife gave birth to our fourth child two months ago.  Since then I’ve mentioned in multiple posts that she was going to be off work for a few months.  Now, she was only working two days a week but she is an Endocrinologist in private practice so that still represents a significant amount of money that she contributes to the household income.  We recently decided, however, that she is not going back to work next month.  For the first time, she is going to be a full-time stay at home mom (or as I like to refer to her: a trophy wife).

Of course this means significant changes around the BFN household.  Since this is a PF blog, let’s get to the financial stuff – it means a 36% decrease in gross income for our family. While our income is not quite cut in half, I think you would agree that such a sizable decrease will require some adjustment.

When we first started discussing how our budget would change, I mentioned that we would now contribute less to our church and missions and other charitable organizations.  Our percentage of giving is 12% this year so naturally we would reduce overall giving to be 12% of my salary instead of 12% of both of our salaries.  Well, she did not want to reduce the amount we give to missionaries because they personally rely on that money.  Ok, that’s valid.  “The only way we can drop our giving down to 12% then is to cut the amount we give to our local church significantly,” I told her.  Well, she didn’t want to do that either.

Our math or God’s math?

“Why don’t we just keep giving what we’ve been giving?” she asked me.  “Because we can’t,” I replied, “the numbers don’t add up.  We just can’t do that.”  Of course, I’m sure you all know what she was going to say next, “Doesn’t the Bible tell us that God will meet our needs?”  “Yes, but this is crazy.  I mean, that’s a lot of money each month!”

I went away from the meeting without giving much thought to her proposal.  I even altered our automatic donations to match up with the new numbers.  Now I had always thought it would be awesome to give a much larger percentage of our income than 10% but that would be when I was making my millions and had more opportunity to give.  Then I started thinking and praying and going to Iron Sharpen Iron events, and reading The Treasure Principle.  My initial reaction when I seriously started considering keeping our giving at the same level was fright.  How in the world could we give that much money without going way over budget each month?  I mean, we hadn’t even balanced the budget in the first place since the transition and now we’d be hiking it up hundreds more each month.

Why not?

And then I started thinking things like, “Why don’t we try this?  Why don’t we try giving more than our budget says we should?” And then I got excited (really, I did).  What would God do with that?  Would he provide opportunities for us to earn more money to keep up our giving?  Would He enable us to reduce our expenses?

So last week, I changed the automatic contributions back to what they were when my wife was still working.  The current plan jumps our giving from 12% of gross main career (“real job”) income to about 18%. I’ve always given 20% of my side-work income (this blog provides a bit but the majority of that income is generated through website design, development, and maintenance) though that income has so far not amounted to more than a couple thousand dollars a year.  Now, I don’t want to overstate this; it’s not like this will cause us to not be able to put food on the table.  Neither will we be challenging Bill Gates in how much money we’re giving away (not yet, at least).

Now what?

I have no idea what God is going to do with us through this.  I do know that he promises to meet our needs, so I’m counting on our needs continuing to be met.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19 (NASB)

Ok, I admit I’m still scared by the idea, but not nearly as much as I was a few weeks ago.  Frankly, I consider verses such as the verse from Ephesians below and I am excited to see how He will accomplish meeting our needs.  I’m curious to see what else comes out of this as well…hopefully something awesome through which we can give glory to God!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

Only time will tell how this actually works out for us.  As of now, the budget does not balance. We’ve taken out some of the fat and reduced some savings, but the biggest area of spending now is our housing costs.  We’ve decided to continue with this plan for three months and then re-evaluate our situation.  If we’re still not making the budget work, we will have to consider more significant changes to the budget at that point – mostly focused on our housing.

Frankly, I’d love for you to join us in attempting this.  Even so, I’m inviting you to keep up with how we’re doing.  I’ll give periodic updates and I’m hoping that through this effort some others will be inspired to rely on God and attempt something similar.

You can’t outgive God

As I prepared my review of The Treasure Principle yesterday, I re-read with great interest a statement from Alcorn that I put into the review: “The more you give, the more comes back to you, because God is the greatest giver in the universe, and he won’t let you outgive Him, Go ahead and try.  See what happens.”  We’re going to go ahead and try…we’ll see what happens.

Guest Post: How to Help Thy Neighbor in a Recession

February 2, 2010 · Filed Under Giving · 4 Comments 

The earthquake in Haiti was a sobering reminder of how important it is to help our neighbors in their time of need. But unfortunately, the country’s anguish hasn’t relinquished the suffering many face right here in the United States.

The recession in particular has had a lasting effect on many Americans, leaving some in the unexpected position of needing help versus giving help. So if you’re in a position to give, this is a great time to show that you truly know how to “Love Thy Neighbor” by offering help to those you know and love – and those you’ve never met – who are struggling through this harsh recession.

Give Money

One of the most direct and effective ways to help those in need is to give money. Whether you’re offering money to a loved one or donating to a local charity, giving cash out of your pocket makes available a number of assistance options, including buying clothes and food, paying bills and more.

Donate Clothes, Food and Even You

If you feel that you’re not in a financial position to offer money, there are plenty of other great ways to give what you already have in your home. For instance, you could:

  • Donate your clothes and complimentary items:
    Organizations like the Goodwill and Salvation Army are among the many that would love to have you to donate clothes, blankets and bedding that you no longer need. After you donate, the organizations sell the items then use that money to help members of their community, making your donation well worth it.
  • Donate food: If you have canned goods in your home, you could donate food to local churches or community organizations. Or you could contribute to larger organizations that contribute to community food banks, like Feeding America.
  • Donate you: While you may not have money, clothes, food or other miscellaneous items, you do have blood to give. Donating blood is a simple process that could save many lives. Even more, some organizations actually pay you for your time and contribution.  It’s definitely worth the 30 minutes you may be giving up.

There are other ways to donate as well, including offering tools and supplies to Habitat for Humanity, which helps rebuild communities by restoring or building new homes from the ground up.

Educate Your Neighbors

Another great way to give to those in need during the recession is through education. Whether you’re good filing taxes, managing money or writing resumes, there’s someone who could benefit from your expertise.

Here are some particularly interesting ways that you could volunteer your time to people right in your neighborhood:

  • Help find employment: You may know someone who is not very Internet savvy but needs to find work. If you’re knowledgeable in this area, you could help locate job opportunities by connecting them to online unemployment resources, including job boards, social networking sites and great career advice blogs. Simply setting up online accounts could make the difference in finding a job, so why not offer your expertise to give a neighbor another shot at employment?
  • Teach personal finance: It’s more than possible to save money during the recession. If you believe this and are doing it yourself then you could help a friend or neighbor do the same. By teaching personal finance budgeting, you could offer an invaluable resource that would be useful, not just during the recession, but for years to come.

There are plenty of other ways to offer your personal expertise, including providing knowledge on credit reports, helping to fill out mortgage applications, or even teaching how to invest. However, if you’re looking to volunteer with organizations, this volunteer website is a great place to help you match your interests to various organizations’ needs.

The satisfaction of helping your neighbor is one that you should not overlook. By giving to someone in need during this recession, you are indeed fulfilling the greater purpose of serving your fellow man and making this world a better place.

This guest post was written by Go Banking Rates, bringing you the best interest rates on financial services nationwide, as well as informative content and helpful tools.

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