If You’re Donating Money…
There are two ways you can go: If you’re trying to decide how much to give to each organization, allocate based on your dedication to each cause—i.e. more for causes you care more about—or find out what amount is needed to accomplish one particular task at the organization. For instance, if you want to help a family in a developing country and you see that $50 is the amount needed to help them dig a well, then give them $50. If the local food bank says that $25 could feed a family of four for Thanksgiving, select that amount.
Be sure to get a matching gift from your company if it offers that as a perk. Company matches are a quick and easy way to increase your impact. Other companies have charities they’re affiliated with and encourage employees to donate—some even going as far as only matching gifts to that charity. If your employer falls in this category, consider your priorities and budget, then decide for yourself whether it makes sense for you to go with your employer’s chosen cause or on your own.
Lastly, if choosing between sending a check or attending a charity event, opt for the direct donation. As Charity Navigator puts it, “Special events, such as galas and golf outings, are notoriously inefficient ways to raise money for a charity. Not only are these events outright costly (invitations, catering, entertainment, and so on), but planning a fancy ball often diverts staff time away from the charity’s mission.”
Also, a straight-up donation is better for your taxes. If you itemize your deductions, you’ll be able to deduct the full amount of your donation, whereas, if you were to attend a gala, you wouldn’t get to write off the full amount of your ticket, because the costs associated with the gala ticket (dinner, alcohol, etc.) are not counted as part of your donation.