A Guilt Free Guide to Charitable Giving in 2013

Cub Scouts, Breast Cancer, Brownies and Little League Baseball players – they all want your money.

Premature babies, Veterans, Firefighters and Abandoned animals – the want a piece of you too!

Volunteers desperately needed.

And supplies.

And people who can transport animals.

Oh, and for god sake if you can give your time, treasures and talent, and commit by signing on the dotted line in blood, that would be super.

Speaking of blood, let’s chitchat about he blood banks, shall we? They don’t just want a piece of you; they need a piece of you. The blood supply in this country is dangerously low and they are calling all available donors to action.

Hell yes people, it’s that time of year again – the time of year when you can’t believe that you could possibly feel more like hot garbage, but every day you do! With each phone call, email and knock at your door, you feel the heat and smell the stink radiating off you!

WE WANT YOUR MONEY! COME ON! WE JUST WANT A LITTLE!

Everyone wants it, needs it, gots to have it – your money. And if you are like me, this has the potential to launch you into a mini-panic attack every time you have to decide if you will donate money, time, or bodily fluid and wondering how much you can afford to give is as tricky and frustrating as those goddamn word problems you had to do in 6th grade math.

If you are like me, you want to give and give generously to everyone. My problem is that I just cannot afford to give to everyone who asks, no matter how much they need and no matter how much I want to give them what they need. My kids need to eat, the bills need to be paid, and I only have a limited amount of treasure, time and talent to offer.

A few years ago, I realized that I just couldn’t take it anymore! After hanging up with some dude from the police department who was “disappointed because we really thought we could count on your donation again this year Mrs. Knepper,” I sat at my kitchen table, simmering in guilt. My emotional temperature just kept rising. It was dinnertime, the kids were being cranky jerks and the dogs were barking. Like I said before, I felt like hot garbage. What was wrong with me? How could I say no to giving the coppers $20? Could I really not afford to support the people who serve and protect my community?

The answer was simply no. I could NOT afford to give them $20 that particular month. We had some major expenses on the horizon, bills to pay. I had bought Cub Scout popcorn, Girl Scout cookies, and a coupon book from one PSHS student from the neighborhood and a magazine subscription from another. I had dropped cash at the Misercordia fundraiser in Elmhurst and committed to supporting St. Baldrick’s head shaving events in the spring.

No, I couldn’t afford to give anyone else money and it made me angry that not being able to give made me feel so goddamn guilty! I knew I had to figure out a way to feel good about what I could give and give up the guilt about what I could not. I had to stop beating myself up and feel good about setting limits. So here’s what I did. I hope my plan of attack might be helpful to you this year as a barrage of requests for your time, treasure and talents begin beat you down.

First, I made a list of all the charities I enjoyed supporting and wanted to commit to.

Second, I made a list of when these organizations held events and what it costs to support them at these events and included in this cost is the time and talent that was requested of me.

Third, I looked at my resources and matched them up with the demands on these resources.

And last, but certainly not least, I looked carefully at the list to make sure that I could donate my time, treasures and talent to these organizations without feeling emotionally and financially de-pleated.

I’m not Mother Theresa and neither are you. It is okay to set limits and say NO. It is okay to let the organizations that you do support know that there are limits to what you can give to them based on what you need to survive yourself. I’m not just talking about paying bills either. I’m talking about finding the balance between feeling good about charitable giving and feeling guilty about not giving.

This year, I have already made my commitments. I won't waver. I can't waiver. I have a finite amount of time, treasure and talent to give. I have decided what charities I will support and how much I can afford to give them. I suggest that you do the same. I suggest that you take the steps you need to get the guilt monkey off your back if that monkey is hanging out there, smacking you on the head every six seconds with his monkey trash, making you feel guilty about saying NO.

It’s okay to say NO as long as you say yes when you can. It’s seems like it should be simple, but it’s not. At least it isn’t for me, and that is why I wrote this blog post. I hope it helps you. I hope you can find a way to give generously, directing your precious resources to the organizations that touch your heart and mesh with your values without feeling de-pleated and disappointed.

Because it’s that time of year again you know……

Knock, knock, knock! Ring, ring......

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