Over the years I’ve come to realize that doing for others shouldn’t just be a seasonal activity. Increasingly, charitable organizations, while thankful for the support they receive during the traditional holiday season, also bemoan the ebb and flow in support they receive during other times of the year. While some organizations have the ability to “stockpile” donations to spread across the year (especially monetary ones), many others do not. This need is particularly great among organizations that help fill the daily needs of people who are in need of support, either acutely or long term.

For those organizations dependent on tangible goods, this “holiday rush” followed by a significant lull can often result in hardships following a relatively short period of abundance. When reflecting upon this, I’ve made concerted efforts to spread my charitable giving and tangible support across the calendar year. Here are some tips that I’ve found for ensuring support:

  • Establish an annual budget for giving.
  • Create an annual giving plan. Perhaps focus each month or quarter on supporting a specific charity or choose a theme and make donations to multiple charities that address similar issues.
  • Make it fun! If you have children (or even if not) create a list of groups to which you want to donate, write the names on individual slips of paper, and put them in a fishbowl for a monthly drawing to allocate your monthly giving to that month’s chosen charity. In lieu of gifts, try to find out what someone’s favorite cause is and donate to that organization on their behalf.
  • Consider automated donation strategies for those organizations that are able to receive donations in that manner. Think of it as direct deposit for your favorite groups!
  • Collaborate with charitable organizations. Contact the organization to see what the greatest needs are and when there tend to be shortfalls. Then target the type and timing of your donations to coincide with those—many charitable organizations will have this information listed on their website.
  • Consider other ways of donating, such as fulfilling Amazon wish lists.
  • Don’t forget the power of you! Monetary and other tangible donations are great, but donations of time and effort are often the most helpful to organizations that struggle to meet the needs of the people they serve. PRA has opportunities to get involved, such as the shelter breakfasts, and there are countless opportunities in every community.

And remember, no matter what you do or how you show support, doing something is better than nothing!