Introducing The Frugal Dad Giving Project

I love it when inspiration meets opportunity. For a long time I have been trying to come up a plan to incorporate more giving, both in my personal life and through my fledgling business here at Frugal Dad. I write a ton of posts about paying off debt, building savings, and a variety of other money topics, but I rarely post my thoughts on giving.

That was until two sources of inspiration smacked me in the face and encouraged me to get moving. The first was a comment left on last week’s post, The Proper Rate of Savings.  “Philip” commented, “I’d like to see a post on the proper giving rate.” The makings of a new post were now in development.

Just this morning I read a post at No Debt Plan about – Use Donors Choose to Support Your Local Schools.  The post introduced me to Donors Choose, and specifically to the author’s wife’s classroom project. His wife, a music teacher, is trying to raise money for two drums. Faced with a limited budget (even more limited for arts and music, I suspect), she is turning to community support to fund the purchase of these drums for her students.

It was at this point that I was inspired to take action. I have managed to build a large community here at Frugal Dad, and I like to think I’ve helped a few people along the way with money issues. But honestly, I don’t feel like that’s enough. Quite often I write about the need for improved financial education for kids, and education in general, and unfortunately many kids do not get that education because of limited resources available to teachers.

Not only are teachers grossly underpaid, in my opinion, but they are expected to cover many classroom expenses out of their own pockets. Considering we live in a world where six-figure salaried businessmen expect to be reimbursed for $10 cab fares, I think asking teachers to foot the bill for supplies is ridiculous.

My reluctance to donate to charities in the past was in part due to the fact it is hard to see where your contributions make an impact. Even if most of the money is put to good use it isn’t easy to see the direct impact of your support. That’s why the model at Donors Choose intrigues me.

Teachers and administrators list needed equipment for their classrooms. The requests and associated costs are vetted by Donors Choose representatives and the projects are made public. When fully funded, Donors Choose orders the materials, ships them directly to the school and notifies the school’s principal – reducing the chances of fraudulent requests. The requests also often include class pictures, thank-you letters from the class, etc. It’s really a heart-warming way to make a difference.

While I don’t have all the details down just yet, I plan to incorporate support for these projects into my work here at Frugal Dad.

Other than this initial post, I won’t bombard you with messages about the giving project. If you can help with financial support, great. If you can’t, that’s fine, too. Perhaps you could mention the project on Twitter, or email it to friends. There are plenty of ways to support the cause without giving money.

I know this is a bad time, economically speaking, to be mentioning a giving project. We’re in the middle of our own budget crunch trying to pay off remaining debt, rebuild our emergency fund, and put a little away for a vacation in the next several months. Still, I should be able to carve out a little for this project.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

To kick things off, I’ve donated all ad revenues from today towards the project featured at No Debt Plan, since it was his post and his wife’s idea that inspired me to get going on this project. (Update: That project is now fully funded, so I’ve decided to support a local project in my kid’s school district).

In the coming weeks I’ll donate a percentage of ad revenues to go towards the projects featured on my giving page. In addition to those projects, I’d encourage you to browse requests in your own community. You’d be surprised how many things are needed at your neighborhood schools.

Finally, to Philip’s original comment, giving is a personal decision. There is no proper giving rate, as it is a decision to be made with your family. Apart from examples such as tithing, there is no set amount a family should give. My recommendation is to give as much as you can without straining your own budget, and just enough to fill your spirit with the joys of being a giver.


  1. For those who would like to donate a few dollars to a good cause, this is one: Andrea Miller just had her first child when her uterus began to bleed. She had to have emergency surgery and though it saved her life, she can no longer have children. Kari, a friend in her church has decided to become a surrogate for her. This is costly, but what a gift to Andrea! Please donate a few dollars toward this. Both Andrea and Kari are great friends of mine and it would be incredible for the Frugal dads here to help her out:

  2. Jason, some corporations have matching funds for donations. Mine in particular supports Donors Choose, up to $500 per employee per year. I’d like to encourage your readers who are interested in supporting Donors Choose to check with their employer to see if they offer matching contributions. This is a great idea and I’m sure will be much appreciated by teachers everywhere.

  3. @Paula: Excellent idea! Thanks for mentioning the matching corporate funds.

    @Pete: Yes, I do love it. Lots of talk about social lending, but social giving is really where it’s at (in my opinion). Plenty of opportunities out there to make a difference.

  4. While I was on deployment, my son’s school sent out a letter asking for donations of material, copy paper, classroom supplies, ect. So I see that this is a problem not just in San Diego, which is sad and a relief at the same time.

    I’m also appreciative of the fact that you want to fund programs that lend support to those with sensory disorders. My son has a sensory processing disorder, so that hits home. Thank you.

  5. @Dan: My son has SPD, but with a lot of love and patience has grown out of many of his fears. Just last year we took him to his first football game – something I thought we’d never be able to do (the sounds, the crowd, etc.). He loved it, and it’s just a small example of how kids (and parents) can adapt given the proper tools and in the right environment. Now if we could just get over those public restroom toilets that sound like a jet engine firing up with each automatic flush!

    By the way, thank you for your service!

  6. You are welcome, and honestly, thank you for this blog. I’m already learning things to work on in my finances.

    I understand the public restrooms! Ironically, noise didn’t bother my son, but other sense-overload did. Thankfully, he’s doing much better also. He’s able to handle being in school now. His temper-tantrums used to get out of hand. Once he was over-stimulated, it was over, but thankfully, we’ve learned how to work on those issues.

    Anyway, thanks for replying to my comment, and best wishes for this project!

  7. I have found that you cannot out give God. My very first stat with giving is 10% to my Church. Next I look for oppotunities to give to others as the Holy Spirit leads. I give to young couples with kids by picking up their tabs. I take soldiers for meals when I see them. I listen for needs of others and try to supply or put the in touch with people who can help them. I do not give to charity organizations because I can’t control where the money goes.
    Most diseases could be cured by now, but the Ceo’s make huge amounts of money for their salary.

    I like to see the smile on someone’s face and usually have the hostess tell them that God loves them.

  8. My personal giving rate is this. On each morning when I wake I try to give to three folks per day whatever I feel I can afford. I figure we each eat three times per day and to truly give thanks to God for every morsel I have been able to provide for myself and my family I see this as a way of giving back. If times are tough I give of my time if time is short I give short spots of time allow someone to go ahead of you in traffic or in line at a store. Hand someone a coupon that you had extra to allow them a dollar off thier order. Little things me a great deal in tough times. In times when money is easier (example just last week I had a check for $100.00 returned to me that I thought was lost money this was shared on the very next day with three folks I encountered who proved to me that they were needy. I give to folks who do not ask but seem to be the needest of all. Older people in the Walmart stores debating over groceries or meds. Young mothers counting money before heading to the cash register, making certain they will have enough for gas money to get to work yet for the remainder of the week and still pay for the diapers and formula. So my new motto in life is give 3 give to three every day !!!!

  9. @Janet: Thanks for sharing your giving philosophy – I love it! Reminds me a lot of the Secret Santa stories I enjoy reading about the late Larry Stewart. He sought out people to give to in much the same way.

  10. Sars over at has done several projects with DonorChoose & her readers, it has been a HUGE success! Take a look sometime, I’m sure you will get some great information on the possibilities.

  11. Jason, this is a fantastic idea and very generous of you to support this program. I’ve just made my contribution and kicked of your donations!

  12. As a teacher, I can tell you that we desperately need all the help we can get. I cannot even begin to calculate the amount of my own money I’ve had to spend to supply my room. I’ve only been teaching for 3 years, but am already at the point where I’m not going to be able to do certain projects because I’d had to pay out of my own pocket. Turning to parents is not always an option, as I teach in a very poor area. Donors Choose is an awesome program. Thanks for your willingness to hel!

  13. From the Bargain Babe website: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is matching contributions to Donors Choose Projects for education. Check it out!

  14. Think about simply going to your local middle or high school and donating to the principal. Yesterday I spent $150. buying binders and backpacks for 10 students on my team (107 students all together). I am their teacher and know that without supplies the year is lost to them. We are beginning food back packs home next week. Applying for grants is time consuming and often difficult.
    For those who read that teachers make tons of bucks- the salary range at my school is $32,000- $55,000 (Phd 20 years). We are busy taking care of the poor- every day.
    I wouldn’t trade my job for anything!