Your charitable giving budget: How much, how often, and who gets it?

A new year means resolutions, fresh starts, and, of course, budgets. 

So how do you factor in your charitable giving? To get started, consider planning your charitable giving budget around three points--amount, timing, and category. 

1. How much?

That's the $64 question. Or more, depending on your budget. The first thing to keep in mind when setting a budget for supporting your favorite causes is that giving money isn't the only way to do good. If your wallet is tight, consider other social impact activities such as volunteering, serving on a board, donating gently used clothing, purchasing products that support a cause, or marketing your favorite charities through social media. It all counts. Set your annual charitable giving budget based on what makes sense for you and your family.

2. How often?

Charities are looking for support year round. More than 50% of charitable contributions are made during the holiday season, but you don't have to do it that way. Consider spreading your giving throughout the year. Your tax deduction is unaffected, and you'll be giving the organizations you support a much-appreciated boost to cash flow.

3. Who gets it?

Most people support a wide variety of charities. To see where your dollars are going, try sorting the organizations you support into the major categories of social impact:

Community Development, Arts & Culture, Children & Families, Health & Life Sciences, Education

Keep in mind that religious giving frequently falls into one of these five categories, depending on the purpose of your gift. 

Budgeting for social impact can be easy as 1, 2, 3. And you'll love watching the numbers come alive as you celebrate the causes that you and your family love the most.