Oct 10 2007

You’re frugal, so be sure you’re not donating to spendthrift charities


You know how good it feels to give someone a present? Or to give them something they really need, whether it’s a tangible gift or doing something to help them? It’s a great feeling.

And if I know frugal people, I know they’re generous givers. Part of living a frugal lifestyle means you have more to pass on to others. It’s a great perk of being frugal!

You might have a few favorite causes or charities that you like to support. It’s important that you educate yourself about these institutions, to make sure your money is being used for good–and not mostly on administrative costs or fund raising.

One site, called Charity Navigator, shows a cost break-down of many large charities. For example, you can search for charities in your area or type in a specific organization’s name. You can see how much money goes toward their programming, administrative costs, fund raising, etc.

Charity Navigator doesn’t have info on all charities. If one you’re interested in isn’t listed, try looking for the annual report online. Non-profits publish this report to show how the organization is doing financially and otherwise.

Every so often, I get thick packets in the mail from some mystery sender. When I open it, there’s usually several pages of pre-printed address labels with my info on it. Or, sometimes I’ll get stickers, calendars, and once…a charity sent me a penny. What??

Here’s what I think (and I should probably tell them):

Thank you for the address labels. I will be sure to use them. But, you should have kept those and the thousands of others you sent, and used the money to feed the homeless/save the children/rescue the pandas/stop a plight , as your charity vows to do. I understand that fund raising is an important part of being a charity, but by wasting your resources and not making frugal decisions, it seems you won’t know what to do with money I send you. So, I am not sending you a donation.

To me, it’s better to give money to people who will use it for a great cause–not to send thousands of people address labels.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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