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View Poll Results: How much of your annual budget goes to charity?
Nothing 10 11.11%
Less than 5% 56 62.22%
Between 5 and 10% 17 18.89%
Between 10 and 15% 4 4.44%
More than 15% 3 3.33%
Voters: 90. You may not vote on this poll

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Charitable giving
Old 01-14-2011, 08:11 PM   #1
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Charitable giving

I'm curious about the average charitable giving of early retirees.

In my case, we are right at a 3% withdrawal rate, and we devote a little over 2% of our budget to charitable giving. We evaluate our gifts very carefully, sometimes to get the most bang for the buck, otherwise just to organizations we feel extremely positive about.

Are we too stingy, or is this a reasonable amount?

I'm thinking about certain religions that practically mandate 10% of a person's income to go to the church, but I wonder if that's way outside the norm or if I'm just a cheapskate.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:28 PM   #2
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Give what makes you feel good. So many people give little or nothing - don't worry about what you "should' give.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:32 PM   #3
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No one is or should be under an obligation to give money to charity at all and should definitely not do so if it would place their own finances under stress. I don't want to have to explain to my wife that we have to downsize our living standards and I don't want to end up being the one relying on the generosity of others when I get older. I'm sure others will have different views, but that's mine (possibly tainted by the absence of SS, pensions or anything else to fall back on when savings run out in my case).

That said, I do believe in helping others beyond what I pay in taxes and intend to continue giving money etc to a number of causes once I retire. However, it won't be a fixed allocation - the amount given in each year will depend in part on how the investments do each year and in part on other factors. In good years I will be writing more cheques than in lean ones. (Yes, I realise that the lean years are the ones when a lot of charities need the money most.)

What I will be giving more of when I retire is time through volunteering.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:46 PM   #4
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I don't give that much money directly, but donate a considerable amount of time to charity. It's my post retirement passion. I know, it's not for everyone, but it keeps me involved, part of something bigger than myself, and engaged in the community.
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Old 01-14-2011, 09:49 PM   #5
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We give money to charities but, technically, none of that money comes from our living expenses. We have set up a charitable gift fund with Fidelity and our donations come from that fund. The amount we give each year varies, but it's usually a small fraction of our living expenses (less than 5%).
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:54 PM   #6
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I voted 10-15%. I tithe to my local parish. The denomination I belong to doesn't consider it mandatory, though there are some, and probably some non-denominational churches, that do. I also sometimes make gifts to other charities, but they probably don't add up even to one percent of my income. I'm also a blood donor. I'm not yet retired but plan to continue tithing when I am, and gifts to other charities. I think there is an upper age limit for blood donors but I don't know what it is.
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:12 PM   #7
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More than 15% in my case. I support medical missions abroad. Buying meds, medical equipment and supplies + flights is expensive.
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:17 PM   #8
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We donate whatever's left over of our 4% SWR to our charitable gift fund, usually appreciated stock-- which was pretty easy to come by, with the exception of 2008-09.

A "reasonable amount" makes you feel good without making it feel like a chore...
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:17 AM   #9
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When DH was employed he had a payroll deduction going to a mega-charity. Since he retired in June that contribution stopped. He mentioned that he had made a pledge for the year and it's not fulfilled since his deduction stopped.

We have a local food bank that I'd rather give to, specifically because we CAN afford our groceries and many around here cannot. They also provide school supplies to kids in the fall.

I've been a blood donor since 1988, I'm just under 10 gallons total. I started doing that when I was a stay-at-home-mom and we were living on one income. Money can come from many sources but blood can only come from those of us with a good vein and an hour to spare.

I admire those who can donate regularly. We are new to this retirement living but it's something I'd like to incorporate into our planning in the future.
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:33 AM   #10
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I gave some in the past... but got feed up with the charities wasting my donations....

An example is the battered woman's shelter... they made a plea for money because they were out of food... I went there the next morning before going to work and the people at the front could care less that I wanted to donate... made it difficult... and then I got mail every 4 weeks asking for more..

I gave to the cancer society because my dad died of cancer... and I specifically said 'only send me something once a year'.... well, I started to get things in the mail asking for more money about every 6 to 8 weeks... they got no more money...

When I was very young... I had money taken out of my paycheck for United Way... but then I left work around March or May (can not remember)... they took out the rest of my years 'pledge' from my final paycheck... but I did NOT make a certain dollar pledge... I pledged a percent of my salary.... the company said they could not do anything about it...

SO, every time I have contact with a major charity I feel like they just waste my money trying to get MORE from me... I gave up years ago...

I have volunteered for a few years at a local charity... but then moved overseas and never went back... I will probably do some more when I retire...

Proud of all of you who do give... both time and money.... (and blood it seems)...
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Old 01-15-2011, 04:05 AM   #11
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I gave some in the past... but got feed up with the charities wasting my donations....(snip) and then I got mail every 4 weeks asking for more..

(snip).... well, I started to get things in the mail asking for more money about every 6 to 8 weeks... they got no more money...
The repeated mailings irritate me too. I wonder what would happen if lots of people started sending letters to their favorite charity saying something like this:

Dear [name of charity],
Please remove my name from your mailing list. Because [the cause] is important to me, I want every penny of the [amount] I've set aside to donate this year used for [whatever the charity does], not for sending out fund-raising letters, so every time I get a mailing from you I will reduce the donation by [amount]."
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Old 01-15-2011, 06:39 AM   #12
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The repeated mailings irritate me too. I wonder what would happen if lots of people started sending letters to their favorite charity saying something like this:

Dear [name of charity],
Please remove my name from your mailing list. Because [the cause] is important to me, I want every penny of the [amount] I've set aside to donate this year used for [whatever the charity does], not for sending out fund-raising letters, so every time I get a mailing from you I will reduce the donation by [amount]."
I just throw the envelopes in the recycling box without opening them. If it's e-mail I just tag them as junk.

I learned to stop handing out my real telephone number to most people who might use it for marketing purposes years ago.
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Old 01-15-2011, 07:25 AM   #13
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Excellent point about the mailings. Most organizations seem to treat any donation as nothing more than the person self-identifying as an easy mark.

DW works at the national HQ of DAV (Disabled American Veterans). They are very conscious of this issue, and maintain what they call a "pander list" which identifies people who have asked to be excluded from more than one mailing a year. She thinks all charities are supposed to maintain this type of list, but most don't bother.

DW is also a blood donor (typically through apheresis), and is well over the 10 gallon mark, since she often gets extra credit for donating platelets.

I'm another who prefers local charities, such as food banks, when possible, but I typically have 15-20 different organizations to list at tax time.
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Old 01-15-2011, 07:32 AM   #14
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I used to get annoyed with the constant mailings too. Now I give anonymously using my charitable gift fund.
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Old 01-15-2011, 09:30 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by kyounge1956 View Post
I voted 10-15%. I tithe to my local parish. The denomination I belong to doesn't consider it mandatory, though there are some, and probably some non-denominational churches, that do. I also sometimes make gifts to other charities, but they probably don't add up even to one percent of my income. I'm also a blood donor. I'm not yet retired but plan to continue tithing when I am, and gifts to other charities. I think there is an upper age limit for blood donors but I don't know what it is.
I don't think there's an official age limit as long as your health holds up.
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Old 01-15-2011, 09:36 AM   #16
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The repeated mailings irritate me too. I wonder what would happen if lots of people started sending letters to their favorite charity saying something like this:

Dear [name of charity],
Please remove my name from your mailing list. Because [the cause] is important to me, I want every penny of the [amount] I've set aside to donate this year used for [whatever the charity does], not for sending out fund-raising letters, so every time I get a mailing from you I will reduce the donation by [amount]."

NOTHING.... they have determined long ago that these mass mailings bring in more money than the once a year drives... it takes time and effort to have a second list... so they would rather not get anything from you and more from everybody else... I accommodate them..
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Old 01-15-2011, 09:41 AM   #17
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I guess I should add that I give to Purple Heart and other places used stuff... but guess what... Purple Heart started CALLING... saying they will have a truck in my neighborhood and will pick something up...

Heck, they always have a truck in my neighborhood... they do not have to call me to tell me And they have a permanent truck parked a mile or so away.... (ps... I do not answer the phone... but I still take the time to look)...

The only place that gets anything regular from me is my wife's church..
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Old 01-15-2011, 09:47 AM   #18
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I don't know what portion of my budget it is - not much in cash, I think. I don't want to deplete my resources in retirement. I don't plan to have a defined amount I take out each year to live on.

I give money to the local food bank. I requested that they stop sending me mail every month, because I am going to give once a year, toward the end of the year, and not at any other time. I think the mailings have stopped. The food bank does a lot of stuff where people collect cans of food - I called and asked and was told they can buy a lot more with cash than the retail cost of the cans of food. But for some people, that's what they can do. There are a lot of people with no food, or not enough food, here. It seems to be a well-managed group.

Other than that, we give away clothes & stuff. I'm working on it...
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Old 01-15-2011, 10:45 AM   #19
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the plan was for DW to go to 100% volunteer when she RE'd, which she has. She works with wonderful women who have just gotten out of prison. Her time was supposed to be our charitable giving - wrong! Between a monthly gift to the program, weekly costs for lunches, special events, etc, buying stuff the ladies "just have to have", our out of pocket expenses have really exploded. Given our current financial situation will be going back to plan A - time only.
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:51 PM   #20
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I just throw the envelopes in the recycling box without opening them. If it's e-mail I just tag them as junk.

I learned to stop handing out my real telephone number to most people who might use it for marketing purposes years ago.
That's what I do with the groups I don't want to donate to at all. I'd like to find some way to contribute occasionally to a group I do want to support, without inducing a blizzard of junk mail. I'm on the do-not-call list, but still get robo-calls from political campaigns, and wish I knew how to get rid of them. You can't tell a recording to take your number off the list.
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