Are You Guilted into Giving?

posted by Andrea | 05/26/2012

Our church’s fiscal year ends in June; so does Dave’s school year and many other non-profit organizations in our area. So we’ve been getting letters, attending foundation dinners, and listening to stewarship presentations on a very regular basis.

It seems like almost every week we get asked to give some type of donation to a charitable cause, non-profit organization, school fundraiser, church event, etc. etc. In fact, I just came in from getting the mail and there were 2 more requests for donations!

Of course, all of these requests are worthy, and all of them are for wonderful organizations that really DO need donations.

I feel guilty for saying no, but Dave and I just can’t say yes to every request. 

If you’ve ever felt guilty for saying no to a request for money, or if you’ve ever given out of guilt, I might have a “solution” for you…

Create a Giving Budget

At the beginning of each New Year (or whenever you set up other financial matters) take a few extra minutes to think about how much money you would like to give over the course of the next year, and what organizations you would like to give that money to.

Write it down…

Set that money aside…

And move on.

Then, when you get other donation requests throughout the year, you can explain that “you’ve decided to donate to other organizations this year but will keep them in mind for next year”. And (hopefully) you won’t feel guilty about it either!

You’ll notice that in my FREE financial workbook, I provide a section for “giving” — and that’s because I really do feel it’s important to plan out what you’re going to give each year.

A Giving Budget also works for your time.

I know that I’ve personally been stretched too thin when it comes to volunteering for WAY TOO MANY different organizations. Just like these organization need monetary donations, they also need volunteers… and they often keep asking and asking until I feel “guilted into it”.

I hate that!

When I found out that I was pregnant with Nora, I quickly realized that I would not be able to continue volunteering for so many organizations and committees… so I quit ALL of them, and then re-joined a couple that I felt connected to.

Dave and I are each involved in 2 committees at church and he does quite a bit with his school. We are not nearly as involved as we were for the first 5 years of our marriage, but as we entered into a new phase of life (parenthood) we found that we had other priorities!

Pick the groups and organizations that mean something to you; then don’t feel bad saying no to ALL the other requests you get.

Don’t give out of guilt!

For me, there’s nothing worse than giving out of guilt… so by having a plan in place, we are able to give willingly to the organizations we choose and not feel guilty saying no to the rest.

So unless you are blessed with unlimited finances and time, try making a giving budget and see if it alleviates some of your guilt (and stress).

Have you ever given out of guilt?

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19 comments

  1. Kelly Braman

    05/26/2012

    I personally feel as though you should give when your heart is led to give. Yes..having a budget in place for giving is a wonderful idea, but is that the only time? I believe that if God places it on your heart to give and you don’t have that money set aside…then you are acting upon Faith and that is more important to me than giving when only budgeting for it. Don’t get me wrong…you can’t be silly about giving to EVERYTHING…but, praying about it and really trusting that God will provide is more powerful to me than anything. Just my two cents:)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Good point Kelly… I guess when it comes to “simple organized living” things look nicer when they’re all laid out in a nice Excel spreadsheet :)
    Personally, I feel that by creating a budget for giving and then using that money throughout the year to give to whatever organizations we decided to give to helps us to be “on the look out” for people who might be in need, yet prevents us from feeling guilty when we have to say no to other organizations.
    Without our giving budget, I actually think we’d give less because it wouldn’t be right there in front of us… but remember, I’m a strong type A personality :)

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    Mary Ann Reply:

    I was thinking along the same lines as Kelly. We do budget or plan for our tithe which comes first then rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit for other giving opportunities. No, it’s not always planned and sometimes requires giving up something else but always works out! God is faithful to provide for our needs as He promises in His Word.

    I would love to give to every worthy cause and used to struggle with guilt relating to that but once I began to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance in these areas and give as the Spirit leads, the guilt went away.

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  2. Kristin M

    05/26/2012

    I will definitely say I am guilted into giving. I need to follow your information. Both my husband and I teach at the same school. So, it seems like we are asked all the time to give to fundraisers. They will ask him and if he says no, then they come to me. And, school teachers do not make a lot of money, certainly not much extra. But, we feel guilted into buying something. I hate to feel like I am backed into a corner. It is an awful feeling!

    Great post! Thank you for sharing. ; )

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Kristin, I know how much money teachers make — LOL, and you’re right, the schools always need money! I also hate being guilted into anything, which is why we decide on a set amount to give to Dave’s school and our church, and then we still have some left over for giving to other things throughout the year.
    Maybe it will also help you to decide on a specific amount… hopefully!

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  3. Ashli

    05/26/2012

    Any advice on how to say no to the adorable kids who show up on your doorstep selling junk for school? I hate having to shell out a lot of cash for way overpriced stuff I don’t need, but have such a hard time saying no to little ones, especially when they live in the neighborhood!

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    Andrea Reply:

    That’s a tough one Ashli — I suppose you could always move out to the country… the kids don’t usually go there!
    Seriously though, I handel it on a “per kid” basis. If they come to my door and present themselves well, talk TO me, explain their fundraiser, and act interested, I’ll probably buy something or at least give them a couple bucks. However, if they are looking at the ground, mumbling, etc. I’ll probably just say “no thanks”.

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    Kari Reply:

    We don’t have kids coming to our door (living in the country really works!), but I am approached by kids we know. I don’t like paying $10 for 6 peanut butter filled chocolate bears (even though they are really good). And likely, the organization only gets a couple dollars of that. I’d rather give $5 or $10 straight to the organization and let them keep the little trinkets.

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    Dez Reply:

    I personally think its cruel making the kids go door to door.. but like you just said its so hard to say no, and the ADULTS know that!!

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  4. Denise Z

    05/26/2012

    I was the same way, especially with volunteering–did so much, I was away from home more than I was home. And my heart wasn’t in it so I wasn’t giving my best nor my all. I finally learned to say “I can’t, but thank you for thinking of me”. It took a while of repeating it to myself before I felt comfortable with it, and I worried what I would say when someone asked me “Why not?” But I did it. And in all these years, not one person has ever asked me “Why not?”

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  5. Katie

    05/26/2012

    Great post! I know you don’t have any control over which ads show up to each post, but the banner ad above this one is a donation request. Haha, it’s just kind of funny and ironic :-)

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  6. Julie

    05/26/2012

    Last year I tried a new approach. I have 2 organizations I support every year so I set aside that money first and then I created a monthly budget for how much I am willing to contribute to causes. If one month I find myself donating items I already have or my own personal hours then I just carry that money over to the next month.
    The first half of the year seems to be light with people asking for donations and once school starts and the holiday season approaches I seem to get a lot more requests for money. So if I volunteer more at the beginning of the year I find I’m helping out places who only see help at the holidays (think soup kitchens) and at the end of the year my money is set aside for those door-to-door kids and other causes.
    I actually had money left at the end of last year so I used it to sponsor an extra child at our local giving tree. Budgeting my money like that meant I could do more good and I’m still giving what is a very manageable number over the course of a year.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I love this Julie — such a great plan and so well thought out. I may have to integrate some of your ideas… thanks for sharing!

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  7. Hana

    05/26/2012

    Great post! My husband and I are pretty good at staying on top of our finances, but we found early in our marriage that our giving tended to be quite erratic and spontaneous. E.G. at church one month we might give only a few dollars because I forgot the checkbook and we didn’t have cash most Sundays, and then the next month we’d give a little more than we could afford. We finally figured out the best way, which is to have our bank automatically send money to the church and other organizations we support at the beginning of the month. That way it’s consistent, and we don’t have to think about it and then feel guilty if we forget! Also, when he gets bonuses from work, the first thing we do is sit down and plan EXACTLY what we’re going to do with the money (even if it’s just set it aside in savings or an emergency fund), but the first things we budget are donations for those organizations that we care about and support.

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  8. Kelly S

    05/26/2012

    Good post!

    The way we do it is kind of a hybrid of your systems and some of the other ideas mentioned above. We have some specific monthly commitments to various organizations that have been established long in advance (like you’re suggesting), and all of those come out automatically through either the organization’s automatic giving system or through our bank’s free bill pay service (we just set a recurring payment each month – this works for places like our church which don’t have an automatic system).

    However, we also have a monthly amount set aside that is for more at-the-moment, spontaneous needs. Each month, we decide how we’ll use that money. We have a few “go-to” organizations (ones that we also support through the monthly automatic system) that might just get an extra donation that month. However, more often than not, we have a specific need that we couldn’t have predicted months earlier – maybe a friend going on a mission trip, someone we know who is going through a tough time and might appreciate a grocery gift card, or one of those “fiscal year end” letters like you mention above.

    Through this system, we’re still able to give as God leads us, but it doesn’t wreak havoc on our budget. Also, on the flip side, it makes sure that we actually ARE giving and not just paying attention to our own needs (which your system does well, too!!)

    Thanks for the ideas!

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  9. Sandy

    05/26/2012

    Great thoughts! We don’t give out of guilt because…….
    We budget our local church giving, it gets first priority…before everything else.
    We also budget some “other” discretionary charitable giving. So when my dear friend was stricken with leukemia, we could give a little financially. When my dad died after a battle with cancer, we could give to the cancer society and to Faith Hospice in his memory.
    I work for a not-for-profit ministry (talk about low pay) so we support it financially as well…all budgeted. Just like teachers, my co-workers and I don’t work there to get rich, we believe in the cause and the job….and we don’t get 3 months off :) every year.
    Sometimes I feel bad when I can’t give to my college’s fund drive, or the March of Dimes, or the many other phone callers who represent very good and worthy organizations… but I can only do so much. I try to remember all the giving we do.
    We also try to budget our time. We serve on multiple church committees, are involved in music leadership and coordinate outreach service projects. And there is never of shortage of extra things needing help at my work. But we remember how important it is to spend family time; both immediate family and extended family. We try to budget time for that, too, to be sure we spend time every month with extended family.
    It’s great to have a plan… including a plan for the unexpected!

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  10. Crystal

    05/26/2012

    Love the ideas, Andrea! My hubbie and I started out teachers also…now he’s a budget analyst so suffice it to say that our giving is highly planned also. Giving by the heart sounds wonderful but I think planning it out can be just as heartfelt. We figured our finances out and if we gave more than our planned amount, WE would be the ones needing charity in our later years!!!

    To solve the guilt issue, we tithe our net salary to our church and then the difference between our net and gross tithes is given to other organizations, leaving a few bucks per month for incidentals. If we don’t give away our (~$25) incidental money, we can lump it into the next month for whatever is on our hearts!!
    Good luck!!

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  11. The Diaper Diaries

    05/26/2012

    I think it essential to set aside money for giving but I think it is much easier to set it aside monthly then at one point in the year. We do what Crystal does and tithe the net to the church the rest to charities we care about which leaves us money to be spontaneous as needs arise. I love that I can support people who need it as things come up. But I am thrilled you are promoting making giving a part of your budget. Too many people just give off the leftovers.

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  12. Tidy-Up Gal

    05/27/2012

    One of my favorite verses – give out of what you have, not out of what you don’t have.

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