You're probably hit up for money regularly. Sponsor my run for the cure? How about some Girl Scout cookies? Come to my fundraising corn hole tournament. Join us for casino night at the Catholic school.
Sadly, indiscriminate giving can be a budget-buster, and doesn't always accomplish much good. If we have one consistent message throughout WalletPop, it's that each dollar counts. So make it count.
A wise giver includes charitable giving in his budget (you do have a budget, right?). This includes, of course, the big gifts to your church or The Cato Institute or The Hemlock Society but doesn't often include the nickel-and-dime obligations that we take on casually. I hope you also vett the organization of your choice to assure an acceptable percentage of its receipts actually go to the cause it represents.
I have a few rules that I use to decide about contributions.
1. I won't donate for another person's recreation. If they want to run for the cure, let them pay for it, too. If they are truly giving of themselves, say, going to New Orleans to carry bricks, I'm much more likely to contribute.