Back To School – It’s Fundraising Season!

Originally Published: September 2017

For many families it’s back to school and work this week. Shopping for new clothes and school supplies, packing lunch boxes and navigating busy mornings with school drop-offs and longer commutes times to the office fill the days ahead. It’s a hectic routine and a strong contrast from the lazy days of summer.

School events, sponsorship drives, workplace donor appeals, apple days, Thanksgiving food drives, mail campaigns and holiday giving requests are a few of the donation requests most households will experience between now and December.

Feeling like you are facing a tsunami of requests? Here are some tips to get through the season:

  1. Make a list. Start by jotting down all the charities you have given to in this calendar year and the respective donation amounts. Add to your list all expected donation requests that you anticipate over the course of the fall months and the monetary amount of each along with what you think you can afford. Include the gifts-in-kind values like clothing, canned food and bake sale goodies. If you can recall what happened in the year previous your list should be based on some of that history.
  2. Stick to your budget. Assuming you have been living by a household budget that includes charitable donations, stick to your plan. As tempting as it is to contribute to every request having a plan and sticking to it can help ease the burden and stress.
  3. Plan your calendar and your cash flow. Take your list to plot the timing of the donation requests, bake sales, bottle drives and other types of donor activity to help avoid the budget crunch. Being proactive in your planning can ensure you stick to the budget, manage donations with other monthly expenses and manage the cash flow for the remainder of the year (remember the December holiday season of giving is just around the corner).
  4. Help your children navigate school and club fundraising. Teaching your children to be charitable is a good thing, however both school and families need to work together to avoid putting stress on the kids to participate in every donation drive or event. Helping your children navigate the requests at school, after school clubs and door-to-door solicitations are valuable in managing the charitable giving cycle.
  5. Pick the charities that matter most. Gathering the family together to discuss what causes matter most to the family can help make the decisions of when, what and how much funds you all can contribute together.
  6. Limit your donation spend by giving a little to a lot. With so much request activity this fall you and your family may need to consider giving smaller donations to numerous causes to show your support, avoid singling out your child from school or club activities and managing the donations within your means.
  7. Learn to say ‘no’. There are many great causes to support, however realistically no one can support them all. Being able to say ‘no’ can be made easier when you can rationalize which charities are your preferred choices. Charities understand this and will respect your decision.

The months ahead can be a stressful and hectic time with the new routines, homework, after-work events, family celebrations and juggling all the priorities. By creating a realistic charitable giving plan you can navigate the donor activities and giving that lies ahead. Good luck and embrace the benefits that come from giving back.

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