You can’t give more than 100% but many giving even 1% can accomplish much, much more.
Five years ago I wrote about the struggle to begin giving charitably. My original concerns included questions such as “What charities would I give to?“, and “How do I donate in a personally satisfying and sustainable way?” It’s amazing to see where I am now compared to then and the relatively small, very gentle, very spread apart steps it has taken to this point in my giving. A lot has changed, and I think improved, in my giving and in my thinking about giving, but one thing is still at the core: Satisfaction, sustainability, and scalability. I’ll explain all that below.
“The second issue, how to donate in a satisfying and sustainable way, has always bugged me. I always felt that if I won a million dollars I’d donate a large amount of it and it would have a significant impact – something I couldn’t achieve on an average salary. I’m not going to sit around waiting to win the lottery, though, so all that did was eat away at me.” (Charity 360)
My very first goal was a $10 per month plan for each of my chosen three charities. I even set a reminder for myself to donate $360 yearly to these charities. That was my idea. It wasn’t much, I knew it wouldn’t really make a dent, but I asked myself “What if everyone else took the same small step?” You see, a person can only ever give 100% of what resources they have, and for us normal folk that’s not going to solve world hunger, but what happens when 100 people give 1%? You get your 100% back, and guess what, there’s a tonne more people than just that 100 that can give 1%!
“That means half of all donors are giving less than $123 and the other half are giving more than $123.”
Canadian statistics for 2010 show an annual average donation of CAD $446. That’s pretty good! The donor rate, how many people give, also looks good: 84%! In total we give about $10 billion per year in charitable donations! That’s an amazing number when you considers billions of dollars come from just millions of donors! Then we take a look at the median number and that’s where things start to look less impressive. When you look at the median number it starts to show how much we really can improve. The median annual donation was $123. That means half of all donors are giving less than $123 and the other half are giving more than $123. Now, if you know statistical distributions of data sets like this a little bit, you’ll understand that as you look at greater annual donation amounts you’ll find ever lesser donor rates at that level. For example, if you were to look at how many give $250 you might think 25% are but you’d probably be wrong about that. It’s not a linear distribution. It’s probably more like 50% are giving $123+, 25% are giving $175+, 10% are giving $250+, 5% are giving $300+, and 1% are giving $400+, and 0.01% are giving insane $1M+ donations that really throw off the $446 average annual donation. That means there’s a lot of room in the donor population to improve their giving.
“So, how much money, in addition to the $10 billion we already given, could be given to good causes if we all increased our giving to at least $360, just 1% of our average income? An extra $10 billion! Double the current total annual donations of the country!“
Let’s think about the Charity 360 plan I started in 2010 for a moment. What is $360 in comparison to an annual average salary in Canada? Is it 10% or less or more? Statscan reported in 2011 that the annual average income was about $38,000. What percentage is $360 of $38,000? It’s just shy of 1%. So, how much money, in addition to the $10 billion we already given, could be given to good causes if we all increased our giving to at least $360, just 1% of our average income? An extra $10 billion! Double the current total annual donations of the country! This is what I mean by sustainable and scalable. It is sustainable because for each person it is a very small amount and it’s scalable because such a small individual amount distributed across everyone comes out to a huge amount!
But it doesn’t stop there. I did my plan for one year. In the second year I wanted to improve my giving because I felt I could do more and $360 wasn’t commensurate with what I could really give. I knew I could easily do more. In 2011 I started doing donations every four months. In 2012 I started doing donations every 2 months. In 2013, every 1 month. In 2014 the same thing but a little less since I was now earning less at a new job. In 2015 the same thing but a little more because I knew I could give a little more. My annual donations since starting Charity 360 in 2010 have increased almost every year. And that feels good.
“You feel like you’re part of the solution. That’s satisfaction!”
It feels good to give charitably. You feel like you’re really contributing to something bigger than yourself. You feel like you’re helping make things better. You’re probably going to want to keep improving your giving amount year over year. You feel like you’re part of the solution. That’s satisfaction!
This year I’m considering expanding on my charitable organizations to increase the breadth and depth of the impact of my giving. I’m currently donating to a local humanitarian organization (The Salvation Army), a Christian evangelical organization (Creation Ministries International), and a Christian apologetics organization (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries). I would also like to donate to some global humanitarian organizations (the Red Cross, for example), and also a global organization helping persecuted Christians (Voice of the Martyrs, for example). I have thoughts of supporting organizations at the global, national, and local levels, across the spectrum of Christian evangelism, Christian apologetics, and general humanitarian work. Sounds like some big plans, right? But where did it all start?
It all started with a small, annual donation that was barely 1% of my income. Where you go from there is up to you. :)
For easier, more manageable giving, visit CanadaHelps.org, a one-stop charitable giving service where you can find and store your favourite charities with your account and you can give to all them all at once. CanadaHelps.org also provides the charitable receipt in a convenient, all-in-one printable document.
I’ve called this post #Charity365 because I want to encourage everyone to think about charitable donations in a global, ongoing, monthly, annual way. It’s something we can keep doing, keep revisiting, keep improving on, and watch as our great organizations already out there do amazing things in our communities, in our countries, and around the world!
“It all started with a small, annual donation that was barely 1% of my income. Where you go from there is up to you. :)”