Office politics are not my strongest suit. I haven’t spent a lot of time in the office throughout my working career, so I don’t have a lot of experience in making the best decision in the office. Recently my office has been making a big push towards food bank donations. They want us to bring in as much food for our local food bank as possible. I think that this is a great idea, and since we had some non-perishables around, I happily contributed. However, the donation drive got a little more intense recently, as they’ve now started to ask for monetary donations. It’s become fairly public as well, as they are showing how much each team is contributing, so there’s a lot of eyes on how much you may or may not be giving away. I’m not a big fan of this practice, even if it is for a good cause. I’m just not very comfortable with there being peer pressure towards charity. I think that charity should be an individual choice whether someone will want to make a donation or not.
Regardless of how I feel, I do think that those of us in better financial situations should give what we can to those that are less fortunate. There’s a couple of things you should keep in mind when you do decide to make charitable donations.
The point of charity is not to make yourself look good in front of others, it is to give resources to those who can use it the most. Don’t make a big show out of donating, else the mental and emotional reward will only be short lived. Make donating discretely a habit, and you’ll have yourself a lifetime of small victories that you can lean on when you may be feeling down on yourself, or when your financial fortune grows dim. When I brought in my donations, for example, I waited until the office was mostly clear, and then I simply brought them in, dropped them off, and left. In terms of financial contributions, try to make them anonymously if you can. I don’t suggest dropping cash off in the mail, but don’t bust out the chequebook in the lunch room either.
Giving a small amount regularly is a lot better than giving a large amount on an irregular basis. Not only is it easier to sustain on your side, it also helps the charity that you’re donating to as they can rely on a certain amount of money each month. So check with your office, HR department, or payroll department to see if they offer an automatic per paycheque donation to any charities. When I started employment at my current job, I was given the option of choosing from a number of charities that I could donate to off each paycheque. I could set it up for any dollar amount, so I could chose the amount and the direction of my donations. If you don’t have this option, you can try contacting the charity directly to see if they offer a regular direct withdrawal option. If those fail, see if your bank can set up a charity as a bill payee, and set up automatic deposits from their account into theirs.
If you can’t financially afford to give up some money for a local charity, consider donating some of your time. I know that our local SPCA needs dog walkers, for example, and I’m sure that you have local non-profit organizations that can use your time and energy. Take one weekend every month and spend it cleaning some cat cages, serving soup, or doing a bottle drive. Whatever you can do to help does help, so don’t think that your small contribution isn’t worthwhile – it definitely is.
If you do end up donating some time or money, make sure that you get a receipt. It will help with your finances come tax time next year, so hold onto those someone you’ll remember for next April, and then store them for the next 7 years somewhere safe. Does your office require donations?