But it doesn’t have to be that way, and although I’m no philanthropist I have been working on being charitable on a more regular basis, with higher amounts each time, and have been using the following tactics to make the process not only frictionless, without hesitation but also 100% fulfilling from start to finish.
Make your donation go further. This is a common objection. If you don’t have much to donate it’s easy to feel like giving to charity simply isn’t worth it, like you shouldn’t bother. When this thought comes to mind I like to read and remember the following quote from Guatama Buddha:
“If you have little, give little; if you own a middling amount, give a middling amount; if you have much, give much. It is not fitting not to give at all…Tread the path of the noble ones. One who eats alone eats not happily.”
But for a more practical approach, consider to donating to loan-based charities such as Kiva. Charities such as Kiva work by taking your donations directly to the people in need, and then within a year or so, if they have the means to do so, the receiver will actually pay the money back.
Now, you could just cash your money out at this time, but I prefer the idea of putting $25-$100 into the system occasionally and then repeatedly re-donating it. After a few years you could easily have thousands of dollars constantly being donated again, and again, and again.
Reach a common goal. One thing I love about Twitter is that it’s an amazing fundraising tool. I remember back in Thanksgiving 2008, the Tweetsgiving fundraiser was going on (and once again in 2009). It’s a fantastic event where Twitter and other social communities on the web band together to give towards a common goal.
These events promote frictionless giving because the causes are easy to be swept up in – you see the press, you see where your money is going and there’s even a bit of a competitiveness as to how much you donate and promote the cause. I never try to actively seek out these causes (they usually find their way to me) but if you want to make sure they’re front and center then you may want to follow the largest charities on Twitter.
And of course, reaching a common goal isn’t strictly limited to Twitter, it’s just perhaps the easier and most accessible option available at the moment. The lo-tech approach would be to simply find local fundraising events and contribute to those – it’s even more motivational if you’re collaborating with people in the real world.
Push your comfort zone each time. If you’re a tightwad, or still feel hesitant when giving to charity start simple: find an amount your comfortable with, say $10, and then donate it. Too easy. But next time you donate, push beyond that boundary slightly and donate $13. And then make a smaller leap and donate $15.
As time moves on progressively increase the amount of each donation. In this way each step will seem far easier, but within a few months, or a year, or two, your donations will be much more impactful no matter what your starting point was.
Connect with the cause. This is perhaps the most important point: you really have to care about where your money is going. One thing that drew me to Kiva is that the money is sent to entrepreneurs around the world who then buy supplies to further their business (and then hopefully grow larger and maybe even hire people in the local community). This connected with me because I’m in business – there’s a common ground that makes donating feel so “right.”
Think about who you are and what you appreciate most out of life. Once you understand those two points seek out charities that overlap in terms of your personality and the lack of what you appreciate.
For example, if you were a highly sociable person and appreciated your family most in the world, you might feel a special connection for an orphanage in need of donations. That’s a more clear cut example, but if you search hard enough everyone has a certain cause that hits home and feels congruent with who you are.