BOSTON (CBS) - This time of year, everyone wants your money. You are getting pleas from charities on your computer, in the mail and on TV. Twenty-five percent of annual giving is done between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year.
There are more than 600,000 public charities all wanting our support. When you decide to support a charity, look beyond the razzle-dazzle. You want to look at the program ratio. That's the percentage of the charity's income that goes to administrative costs and fundraising. The smaller that number the more money that goes to doing the work of the charity. Several good websites for checking on charitable giving: www.give.org, www.charitywatch.org, www.charitynavigator.org
So who do you help and how much do you give if you have any dollars left in your charitable budget? When my kids were little, I wanted to teach them that indeed "It is better to give than to receive". Not an easy lesson for kids especially at Christmas.
We held a family meeting to decide where our contributions were going for the next year. We each could nominate a charity and we had to support our selection and explain why we thought this charity would be worthwhile for us to support. Then we voted giving each charity a number from one to ten.
The charity with the highest number got our financial support for the year. We also looked for charities that were local and where we could volunteer as well as give money. For several years we cooked and served meals at the women's shelter of the Pine Street Inn the last Sunday of the month. Our kids collected clothing and towels to be used at the shelter.
Currently our budget includes Dana Farber where our son was treated and our local food pantry Loaves and Fishes. They need our dollars and our time to help collect and distribute food. Money is always welcome but so is food.
Consider taking the kids grocery shopping with you and allow them to fill up a basket for a food pantry. I did
this with my granddaughter. We created an imaginary family and she puts in her basket what she thinks the family would like to eat. There is always some fun stuff in there like a brownie mix or chocolate peanut butter. She views it from her perspective and what she thinks they would like.
So if you want to find things the kids can do for a charity, consider letting them have a food drive in your neighborhood. Kids can do simple things to raise dollars for a charity.
Maybe it's a walkathon or a bikeathon where they can ask support for each mile they walk or ride. A car wash in the spring to raise money. They can collect bottles and cans for the deposits. All of these things usually require adult supervision but teaching about giving is worth the effort.
You can hear Dee Lee's expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.
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