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'Tis the season to be 'charitable'! Why you should donate regularly

It’s almost year-end, time to bid goodbye to one of the most happening years for the financial markets. It’s also time to pen down your New Year resolutions, which is what I’m here to try and help out with, in this column.

When we think of financial planning and investing, it’s usually for ourselves. But did you know you can make ‘giving’ a part of your financial plans too? Let’s see why you should consider making charity a part of your financial life in 2017:

You are doing it already!

Most of you may have donated money or contributed to a cause, no matter the size of the token amount. It maybe contributions made on the streets, in your office, at home during festivals, or to a cause close to your heart. However, have you considered making ‘giving’ an active part of your financial life?

Why ‘giving’ is important for your financial life?

The act of giving even a very small portion your wealth is a good start — it can be as low as Rs 100 or Rs 1,000 a month. Parting with your wealth to help someone in need, sends a positive signal to your mind about your financial well-being. It sends a signal that ”if you are in a position to help others, you still have the bandwidth to help others, which means your situation is not that scary or bad.”

This helps an individual to stop worrying about the scarcity of money and move towards saving and spending objectively.

Make “giving” your Personal CSR activity

Corporates are mandated to set aside 2% of their profits for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or simply, to spend on a social cause for the welfare of the society and its people. Giving back shouldn’t only be for companies. It can also be a personal goal, or Personal Social Responsibility. Pick a cause that you believe in. It can be for cleanliness, education, eradicating poverty, sanitation, a health concern, it’s endless. Once you zero in on the cause, and mind you, it can be more than one, you can find out how to contribute to it.

Look before you leap – your own financial assessment!

However, if you are planning to go big and create a personal charity fund or even making this activity a monthly affair, it’s important to assess your finances first. Find out how much money you may need to support yourself, set aside a portion for your emergency fund, pay your bills, and then contribute. The cause would be detrimental if you are going to find yourself short-strapped for funds at the end of the month or aren’t able to pay your bills on time.

How and when, and how much?

After this evaluation, if you can still give to charity or help someone, great! Deciding the frequency of charity, the amount, and the time, is your discretion entirely! However, take a look at some quick points on how you can give:

— Make it a subhead in your annual and monthly budget.

— Maintain a donation box at home and all earning members of a family can contribute.

— You can draw some amount of your annual returns on investments or yearly bonus.

— You can donate in the memory of your loved ones on their birth or death anniversaries.

— You can get in touch with NGOs and non-profit organisations, understand their needs and can donate monthly or annually.

— If you are a part of a corporate house which undertakes CSR activities or run their own foundations, it should be easy to make contributions and keep a tab on the end use of the funds.

— You can choose to donate for one particular cause, to one particular organisation, or you can diversify your donations to different sections. Education, health, shelter, woman empowerment are several sectors wherein you can help with your donations.

— Some more options available include, sponsoring the annual education fees for an orphaned kid, sponsor medical treatment, and so on.

— You can also contribute to the donation funds run by the state government or central government.

— Apart from your regular donations, in the event of a natural calamity, several individuals and organisations set up donation drives. If you have the means, you can decide to go the extra mile.

Tax benefits!

You can get the 80 G certificate for the donations you made, and avail benefit from tax exemptions while filing your annual returns.

There is no right or wrong time to start giving. As the old saying goes, charity begins at home, after all!