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5 Steps to More Intelligent Holiday Giving

How much thought do we really put into our holiday giving?  

Maybe for our loved ones, we’ll exchange lists of things we want, or we’ll set a budget so that everyone spends the same amount on gifts.  Still, for others, it might be a big guessing game each year.

Regardless of the norm, you can probably think of a time when you put a lot of thought and consideration into a gift and the resulting effect that had, not only on them but on you as well.  We like to call this process intelligent giving and we recommend you practice it for any person, group, or cause you give to for the coming holiday season.

Here are some ways to give more intelligently this year:       

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Think from the receiver’s point of view when deciding what to give.  Give what you know will be useful, appreciated or truly desired by the individual, group or organization.  It’s better to give nothing than to supply an unnecessary or unwanted gift.

This rule applies to personal gifts among loved ones and perhaps even more so regarding charitable gifts.  There are specific needs to be filled for every nonprofit organization, so figure out exactly what those needs are and only give if you’re able to meet those needs in some way.     

Gift Within Your Budget

Just because you think other people are going to spend a certain amount on you, this doesn’t mean that you should spend the same.  Likewise, if the average donation to a particular nonprofit is more than you can realistically afford, give a different amount!  Or, volunteer your time to them instead.  

Giving that results in deprivation or putting yourself at financial risk is taking away from the joy that should result from giving.  So instead, only give from a place of abundance in your life, and if it isn’t money, give something else (time, services, advice, appreciation, love…).  

Consider how you would feel if you discovered someone was worse off from something they gave you.  This would feel more like a burden than a gift.    

How you Give Matters

Give happily or don’t give at all.  This relates to the previous point, that if you give beyond your means, you’ll likely be giving out of force, guilt, or some other unpleasant motive.  You could also cause more harm than good to the recipient if you give in an unpleasant way.  

Consider a scenario where you’re given a gift and the person who gave it to you brings it up later as an example of a sacrifice they made for you or a reason that you should do something for them in return.  Obviously, how they gave this gift had a lot of negativity behind it.  

You don’t want to be this person.  Be mindful of how you feel about the gifts you’re shopping for or the donations you’re planning to make this year.  Giving from a place of joy is always preferred and there’s always a way!

Consider the Usefulness of a Gift

If it’s not useful, it’s wasteful!  This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t buy a doll for your young niece because it can’t fix the plumbing, but if your niece is in college, then you may need to question your gifting logic.  You also don’t want to blindly hand over cash to your niece, without considering how she will spend it.  You’re better off setting up a trust fund for her to spend toward college or a car – or a gift card to a grocery store.   

And if you plan on donating money to an organization this year, you should also have an idea of where that money is truly going.  Do a little digging first to see if the organization is a certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit or something else.  Find out where they spend their incoming donations.  Don’t simply be happy with the idea of where your money might be going; know that it’s actually helping that particular person or cause the way you intended it to.    

Use Charitable Giving as a Tax Deduction

Finally, if you’re donating to a charitable organization, make sure the one you choose qualifies you for what is called a charitable contribution deduction.  Any gift to a verified 501(c)(3) nonprofit would qualify you for this. 

Giving on a whim is great, but giving intelligently is better!  A major reason why wealthy individuals often make charitable donations – along with wanting to help their chosen causes – is because they like having a choice about where their tax money goes.  

So how will you be giving this year?


I Want to Give Intelligently