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 DonorsChoose.org – 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. For now, I’ve included a link in the navigation menu above to my “Giving Page” at DonorsChoose.org. Here, I have hand-selected a few classroom projects that are meaningful to me, such as those that support financial literacy, autism and sensory disorders, writing, and other topics.
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.