November Week 2: Research

Research Your Interests

Take a look at your list of causes from last week, specifically the ones you’re interested in. What are they? What do those organizations need at the moment? If you have specific causes in mind, email or call them. Look them up online and see if they have a list of items of specific events they are hosting. Write them down.

Didn’t have a specific charity in mind? Research causes locally or globally using key words that are important to you: childhood hunger, horse rescue, clean water, mental health, cancer, refugees, native plants…the possibilities are endless. Try not to get hung up on what you *think* you should care about as a mom or woman, but rather what truly speaks to your heart. There is no tier system when it comes to giving—one idea doesn’t have to be more valuable than another. It takes all of us caring about a wide variety of things to make a big difference. Be true to what call is placed on your heart.

Research Your Family’s Interests

Same journal prompt from yesterday, but with each family member’s favorite causes. What are they? What do those organizations need at the moment? Email, call, or look them up online. Write down the details. You can do this separately or with your children. Share the results with them either way.

If they didn’t have specific charities in mind, research causes locally or globally using key words that are important to them. Write down ideas that speak to your (and their) hearts.

Ask Friends/Family for their Interests

Reach out and ask friends (in person, online, or over the phone) about what causes are important to them. This is a great way to get ideas about charities you might not know existed before asking. Write down their answers.

This is also a great way to compile a gift list for later so that when birthdays or holidays roll around, you have the names of charities that are important to them and can make a donation as a gift.

Research Friends/Family’s Interests

Part of responsible giving is researching charities. Take yesterday’s list and research the charities friends and family suggested. Find out how they use their funds, what they use them for, if they have ratings online, etc. Figure out what criteria are important to you when giving. Write about it.

What Really Helps?

Part of responsible giving is also finding out what is (and isn’t!) genuinely helpful to an organization. For example, clothing exchanges or shelters might have lists of items they do not need or requirements for the condition of items that are donated. Doing even a small amount of research can avoid a lot of misguided offers to help.

The intention and desire to help can be pure and loving, but some organizations can become bogged down with donations they do not need or cannot use. Some don’t speak up about this because they don’t want to seem ungrateful. Let’s move beyond that song and dance and look closer at what organizations need when we are going to give. A simple phone call or email asking for specifics of what they do and do not need (and then sticking to that list!) can go a long way in genuinely helping a charity.

Create a Savings/Giving Plan

Come up with a solid, easy to follow savings/giving plan that works for you and your family. This can look like setting aside one day a month to volunteer. It can look like taking a % out of each paycheck or birthday gift to set aside for charity. It can look like setting an honest limit of what you can and cannot give when asked (i.e. we’ll give to two charities per year when randomly asked and politely decline every other time). This doesn’t have to include specific numbers just yet—we’ll get to those next week. Today is about taking a look at the broader picture to see what your plan will include (%s, time, etc).

Include boundaries. Creating boundaries around giving is healthy! We’re asked to give all the time—at events, at the grocery store checkout, sports fundraisers, church, etc. What can you realistically give without creating hardship for your own family? You don’t have to light yourself on fire to keep others warm. Knowing what your boundaries are surrounding giving takes the pressure off of situations when you are asked to give. It allows you to tell the store clerk “no, thank you” when you’re asked if you want to donate on top of your purchase and move on without guilt because you know you already have a giving plan in place. You don’t have to question whether you have a generous heart because you said “no;” instead you can rest easy knowing what is realistic for your family and stick to your pre-established plan.

Giving doesn’t have to be emotional, even when there is an emotional pull. We can take a step back and look at what is: can we realistically afford to give? Having a plan in place will give us an immediate answer we can feel good about.

If you already have a giving system in place, does it need any fine-tuning? Does it include boundaries?

Create Giving Lists

After your research is complete, create a list you can share with family and friends that includes charities that are important to you and your family. Create a second list to use for friends and family that includes charities that are important to them. Keep it in an easy to access place you can refer to often.