Tips for the Everyday Micro-Philanthropist

Back in 2010, I started a mission to give everyday for a year. Along my journey, I have received many questions from people asking for tips on how to start their own everyday giving mission. As I know it can be daunting at times, I have a compiled a list of tips and tools to make the experience more rewarding and educational.

  • Start locally. Take a look around and find organizations working within your community to promote positive change. Make a short list of groups you want to help.
  • Start small. There is no need to break the bank or go broke for your giving mission. There is no such thing as a donation too small. From my experience, I've learned small donations can add up fast.
  • Start your foundation. Sign up for an account on GiveBack.Org and manage all your giving in one place, add your favorite charities, earn money by shopping, or make a donation. The best part is GiveBack.Org has simplified the tax receipt process and provide you with one receipt for your tax returns. Plus, you don't have to share your mail or email with the charities if you prefer a more anonymous approach.
  • Jar-to-jar. Some parents might be interested in teaching charity and saving at the same time, so I recommend a jar-to-jar method. Take two jars or containers and label one "savings" and the other "charity." Each day drop a quarter or other change in each jar. Then at the end of the month, deposit the savings and donate the charity portion. It's a great way to get the kids involved. My uncle Luis bought his first car from a 5-gallon water bottle of change he collected, it adds up.
  • Vetting. It is important to be informed in your giving, it can be discouraging to find out a charity is not legit after your donation. The best solution is to do your research. Check out websites like CharityNavigator.Org, Charitywatch.org, Guidestar.org, and other watchdog sites. The more information you have, the more confident you can be about your donation. My other suggestion for vetting is volunteering. Volunteer a hour or two at the organization you want to contribute to and get first hand experience. Give smart, give confidently.
  • Money isn't everything. While giving cash is a great way to help your favorite organization, donating goods or volunteering your time are excellent ways to help as well. So, on those days when $1 might be too much for your budget to give, consider donating some old clothes/toys/etc, or volunteering a hour or performing a random act of kindness.
  • The great opt-out. After your donation, contact the organization and ask them to please remove you from their postal mailing campaigns. Politely let them know that you support their work, but would prefer they save the money spent on direct mail campaigns and be more green by sending email only.
  • Get social. If you want to get your friends and family involved, consider starting up a fundraising project using a social giving site like Crowdrise, Razoo, FirstGiving, StayClassy among others! This is a great way to stimulate conversation and expand your impact.
  • Give a buck. Join the $1 revolution and hit these one-dollar centric micro-donation websites: Philanthroper, Tipping Bucket, and Vonate.org
  • Give anything but up. Even if you have to take some time off, don't give up. The best thing about giving is that you can pick it back up at anytime. Stay positive and what you might think is too small, can cause a ripple and eventually create a large wave.

If you have any other questions or suggestions, please drop me a line. If you start your own Give Everyday mission, please let me know, so I can follow you!