Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and over 50% of the Fortune 400’s The Richest People in America list have decided to give away their wealth for charitable pursuits. Of course, not many of us have that kind of money or are inclined to give away all we own. However, giving to charitable organizations is something that anyone can do, and we can all derive a similar satisfaction by investing in causes that light our passion.

The Key Takeaways
o Investing in a cause that we feel passionate about can give our lives new purpose.
o Even if we have limited finances, we can still find ways to contribute by giving of our time and/or talents.
o Our giving can influence subsequent generations and others around us by setting an example and communicating our values.

Finding Your Passion and Renewing Your Life
Americans like helping people and giving back to our communities. You may have already found your passion and are doing what you can to help. But if you are still searching for a way to make a difference, give some thought to what inspires you or what you care about deeply. It could be the arts, reading, the elderly, our military, disadvantaged children, teen mothers, or a clean planet. There are many organizations that need volunteers and financial help to do their good works. And, of course, most churches and religious organizations offer numerous ways to volunteer in your community and around the world.

What You Need to Know: One traditional way to benefit a charity is to leave a donation through a will or trust. This is good, of course, but if you contribute while you are living, there is the additional benefit of seeing the results of your contributions. You can also network with others who share your passion, which often results in greater contributions.

Actions to Consider
o If you have children at home, include them in your volunteer work. If you make a donation, deliver the check in person and take your children with you.
o If you are retired or nearing retirement, you have the benefit of extra time to donate to your favorite causes. Some people choose to work part time in retirement so they will have extra money for living expenses and for donations.
o Include all cash donations in your spending plan so they are part of your monthly expenses. Otherwise, you risk being an emotional or impulsive giver, which can have a negative impact on your finances.
o If you aren’t sure how to contribute, ask the organization you want to help. They are sure to have a number of suggestions with different time and money commitments.
o Whenever possible, work with local organizations that benefit your community. Get to know the people running the organization so you will know if they can be trusted with your contributions. This will also allow you to see the progress firsthand.
o If you have more substantial means, a charitable trust is an excellent way to give, and such a trust gives you many financial and non-financial benefits.