In addition to being the time of year where everyone is expected to launch themselves into a frenzy of consumerism and consumption, we’re also now entering the time of year where it seems like every other person you see is collecting money for some cause or another. To be honest, most of those causes are legitimate and really do need help, and this is one area of my life where I try to disregard the nagging voice in my head that is always telling me to think about my FI goals.
That said, I try to be smart about it. It’s rare that I give to a cause that doesn’t provide me with a tax receipt, which means no gofundme requests ever get my money. There is no way to validate all the sad stories that show up there, and there are too many legitimate charities that desperately need funding for me to risk donating to what appears to be someone’s medical bills but is really going to be a vacation fund. Registered charities have more accountability, and of course the tax receipt itself will be nice next March.
Still, with all the constant requests from people and organizations trying to save the world, it’s easy to get compassion fatigue and ignore all of them. I personally counter that by keeping a list of a few causes that mean something to me and making donations to them early in the season. If any other requests stand out and tug at my heartstrings (which is hard to do, as jaded as I am), I’ll see how it fits in my budget and donate accordingly.
Things that are easy to ignore: almost everything that comes to my attention through social media, requests coming from individuals vs organizations, requests to provide ‘experiences’ to anyone (regardless of the reason), requests for coworkers’ kids’ schools, anything sports-related, and anything pet-related (note: wild animal protection is a whole other story).
I don’t buy Christmas presents for anyone anymore, so giving more money to charities is my way of marking the holiday season.