It often feels like there isn't a week that passes without a charity vying for monetary contributions and donations. For many charities and not for profit organisations, important work wouldn't go ahead if it wasn't for the generous financial support they receive from individuals each year. According to Philanthropy Australia, in 2012-13, donations, bequests, and legacies from households in Australia amounted to approximately $4 billion. With more than 5,000 philanthropic organisations in Australia, many individuals feel some level of guilt or feel “mean” when they are forced to say “no” to requests for donations. If you have financial trouble, you should first do a debt assessment, and only give money to charity if you aren’t going to put yourself out financially.
Choosing a Charity
Most people choose a charity to support and give money to, based on their personal interests. Often people are drawn to certain charities because of personal experiences or events in their life. like the death of a loved one, a personal illness or a passion. Regardless of what your motivation is in supporting a certain charity, make sure that you check out the charity’s activities and they way it spends the funds. Be mindful not to rely solely on information you find via social media or on websites, as this can be hard to verify. Even if you wish to donate money to charity for overseas causes, you can support Australian-based charities who work in overseas areas. These local charities may be able to provide you with a better opportunity to seek information about how donations are used. Bear in mind that once you donate to one particular charity, your details will likely be kept on record and you will be contacted when the charity is seeking future donations. If you want your donation to be a once off, and think that you may feel guilty or over-give when you can’t afford to, then simply ask to be removed from their subscriber list. At the end of the day, you can always re-submit your donation subscription when you are in a better financial position.
Ways You Can Donate
Give Money as a Once Off
If your financial situation means you can’t be a regular giver, then you might prefer to make a once-off donation to support a particular campaign or give during a difficult time like a natural disaster (eg. The NSW Floods). You can give a once off donation at an event, through a friend who might be fundraising on behalf of the charity, a door knocker, over the phone or at a local shopping centre.
Give Money Through Work
Some workplaces give staff the choice to make automatic donations from their salary to charities. These kind of giving schemes mean your donation is taken before tax, and you will be given a summary at tax time. If your workplace doesn’t have such a program you can ask them if they are able to set one up through the ATO.
You might feel like you are a bit young to have a Will, or maybe that you don’t have enough money or assets to worry about what will happen with your finances should you pass away. When or if you do decide to organise your after-life finances, you can leave a money donation or bequest money via your Will. The best way to do this is to contact the charity directly to arrange the necessary paperwork.
Don’t have money but still want to give? Try Volunteering
If you don’t have much money to donate, then you might have time or skills you can give. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community, a charity and to yourself (it’s proven to increase feelings of worth and happiness). Many charities would not be able to deliver vital services without the work of volunteers, so you might find that the contribution of your time is much more valuable than an anonymous donation of money. See, you don’t always have to give money to be generous!
Give Money as a Tax Deduction
This is an awesome way to give money as it benefits you too! Financial donations to charities are tax deductible if the charity you are giving to is endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as a deductible gift recipient. The donation must be of two dollars or more and made in the same year as the tax return you are making. Giving is a really important part of life. It is good for the recipient and good for you and your feelings of self-worth. Make sure that you are only giving within your means and if at a certain time you cannot afford to give then find another way, like volunteering as a way to donate to others. As always, make sure you include your donations in your budget and know where your money is coming from and going to at all times.
Where to Get Charitable Assistance
If you’re struggling to pay your debts, there are a number of charities that may be able to provide you with assistance. Here are some recommendations:
- The NILS Scheme - NILS stands for the No Interest Loans Scheme, and it’s an Australian initiative designed to provide low income individuals and families with access to fair and affordable credit. NILS loans of up to $1500 with affordable repayment options over 12-18 months, are available for essential services and goods such as fridges, TVs, Furniture, washing machines, car repairs and rego, medical and dental procedures, and even essential education expenses such as textbooks and computers.
- OzHarvest - OzHarvest’s mission is to provide access to quality, nutritious food for those who are doing it tough. Simply type your post code into the search bar (linked above), and you will be able to find a food outlet near you!
- The Smith Family - The Smith Family helps disadvantaged Aussie children get the most out of their education, in order to help break the cycle of disadvantage. The Smith Family runs specialty programs which cover Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Arts, Community, Financial, Literacy, Numeracy, Technology, Mentoring, and Work Experience. For more information on how to sign up for one of these programs, simply follow the above link.
If you’re a charitable person but you haven’t donated in a while because you are struggling financially, there are options to help you get out of debt. Money doesn’t have to be a struggle. Call us on 1300 003 328 for a confidential chat about your current budget or a free debt assessment, and one of our friendly Credit Counsellors can point you in the right direction.