Now more than ever, it can be difficult to maintain hope about the future. But studies show the very act of giving boosts happiness, health, and well-being. That simple act doesn’t just make the world better, it also makes you feel better. On top of that, philanthropy is an important driver of social change.
It can start with you. More than 80% of all donations to charities and nonprofit organizations in the U.S. come from individuals, and six out of ten American households participate in some sort of charitable giving. Annual donors in particular are the backbone of philanthropy and will be instrumental in the costly fight against climate change.
Fortunately, you can leverage your philanthropy in many ways. Here are a few strategies I use that can help you make the most of your giving, increase your impact, and resist the grip of news-cycle apathy.
The long and short of it is we need a sharp decline in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, or global warming will surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius in the following decades. That gives us just over seven years to transition to clean energy and decarbonize other sectors of the economy — that’s only four election cycles, someone reminded me. We must believe that we can realize a different future for the planet and commit ourselves immediately to creating that future. One simple action I’m taking is to give the most I can now. The more we can achieve today in the fight against climate change the better our chances of success. In this case, time is the enemy, so don’t wait to make your philanthropic decisions.
For most people, giving monthly allows them give more than they originally thought possible. I know that’s true for me. I’m able to give more by structuring my philanthropy as monthly gifts. And once set up, monthly giving takes less of my time. Giving consistently also helps nonprofit organizations anticipate revenue and plan their work. Most organizations offer monthly giving options. Take advantage of them, automate your giving, and use that time you saved to get out and savor nature.
Pay Transaction Fees
I pay transaction fees whenever the option is offered. I like the convenience of using my credit card and the rewards I get from spending, but I don’t like the organization I’m supporting to incur these costs on my behalf. Sometimes I even go really old school and write a check!
Leverage Giving Days and Employer Giving Programs
Many organizations are working to engage donors in giving to the causes they care about — whether it be a community foundation that sponsors a giving day with matching gift opportunities or your workplace that matches your charitable giving. Engage with these types of partners to match your gift and increase your giving at no cost to you.
Choose a Nonprofit Beneficiary
Like many people, I have most of my savings in my 401K in preparation for retirement, and one great thing about individual retirement accounts (IRA, 401K, 403b, and pension funds) is how easy it is to name a nonprofit as the beneficiary of unused retirement assets. I recently had to update one of my accounts, and it took only a few moments to add WRA as a beneficiary and to determine an allocation amount. This gift will likely be larger than what I will do in my lifetime, and I feel good knowing that I’m making a better future for the people I care about — especially my four newest great nephews, all born in the past year. They will be eight in 2030 and, I hope, very proud of us all for addressing the complexity of climate change while we still had the time.
Do you still need to take a required minimum distribution from your IRA? A charitable IRA rollover makes it easier to use your IRA assets to make a charitable gift during your lifetime. Satisfy all or a portion of your required minimum distribution by making a qualified charitable distribution to WRA to help fight climate change.
Questions? Contact WRA’s Vice President of Development and Communications: Theresa.Bushman@westernresources.org | 720-763-3727