NEW YORK (11/18/09)--The economy, while improving, still will take a toll on 2009 holiday observances: 63% of respondents to a recent Discover Financial Services survey aim to spend less this year on gifts due to personal finance concerns (online.wsj.com
Nov. 4). Charities also expect to feel the squeeze as U.S. consumers tighten budgets over the holidays. Among the nation’s largest fund-raisers, half expect donations to drop more than 9% during the period (usatoday.com
Nov. 2). With less money to go around this season, it’s even more important to make your charitable dollars go further. Follow these tips to ensure your donations--large or small--have the greatest impact:
* Avoid administrative costs. Some organizations collect a percentage of your cash donation for administrative costs. Contact your charities or research them online to find out what percentage of your donation actually will go to your intended cause. The Better Business Bureau has an excellent online resource at www.bbb.org/charity. * Pinpoint your dollars. Focus on organizations that you care about most. Concentrating your support allows you to give more to a cause instead of spreading the charitable amount to several entities. * Cash instead of food. Food banks often can purchase more with a cash donation than you can at your local grocery store. Instead of buying items to donate, consider donating the amount you would have spent.