“Of course, many charities have worthy causes, but it could decimate your retirement cash flow, if you said “yes” every time one of them asks for your money.”
When living on a fixed income, there is probably less disposable money available than when you were working at the peak of your career. The charities you built up relationships with over the years seem to lose sight of that fact, even doubling down on their efforts to get their hands on a piece of your limited funds. Many charities have worthy causes, but it could decimate your retirement cash flow if you said “yes” every time one of them asks for your money.
We all receive requests for donations throughout the year, but it can be overwhelming during the holidays. When retired, you will likely go to places where people are asking for money. Here are tips on how to handle holiday donation requests when you’re retired.
After you draw up a detailed budget to make sure you can pay all your bills and live within your means, see how much you have allocated for charity. Designate how much of that will go to which charities and stick to your guns.
When you receive a request from a charity not on your list, respond firmly and kindly that you are sorry, but you have budgeted your charitable contributions for the year. If a charity to whom you give asks for more than you allocated for them, explain that you have set your contribution amount for them and cannot exceed it.
If there is no money left over in your budget for charitable contributions, do not give away money you cannot afford. Sometimes well-intentioned people will put others on the spot, often in front of others, to “nudge” a contribution out of them. Do not be bullied into handing over money you must pay your electric bill or buy food or medication.
Donate your time.
As a retiree, you might be short on excess cash but long on free time. Most charities could not survive without the free labor that volunteers generously donate. Contributing your time as a volunteer can help the charity far more than a standard cash donation. You can help out at an event, like a cook-off or other fundraiser, or you can volunteer ongoing.
Give up your clutter.
Many charitable organizations need donations of items for their resale shops. Clean out the garage or closets and take your excess bounty to their drop-off location or call and arrange a pick-up. There are three essential things to remember when donating items to a charity:
- Make sure the charity is legitimate and not just a cover for groups that help themselves, instead of helping the needy.
- Stained, dirty, and damaged items will not do the charity any good. If you could not sell it in a yard sale, the charity probably can get no benefit from the item. This is no time to play “pass the trash.”
- Get a tax receipt. Although the tax benefits of charitable contributions fluctuate with changes to the tax code, it does not hurt to get the receipt, if you can use it.
Your state’s regulations might vary from the general law of this article, so talk with an elder law attorney near you.
USA Today. “So many charity requests at the holidays: How to choose.” (accessed October 19, 2018) https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/12/17/holiday-charity-contributions-how-to-choose/94996052/
SevenFiftyDaily. “5 Ways to Manage Requests for Charity Donations.” (accessed October 19, 2018) https://daily.sevenfifty.com/5-ways-to-manage-requests-for-charity-donations/