Give It Away

One of the goals on my Impossible List is to give away 10% of my income. Why 10%? I guess I just grew up thinking that was the number to shoot for. In church, you tithe. So it always seemed like the right thing to do to me, even though my 10% isn’t going to a church anymore.

I made a spreadsheet today for all of my 2011 earnings so far (gross income from my regular job and my writing gig) and what I’ve already donated. I was expecting an abysmally low number for what percentage I’ve given away. I haven’t written a big check to charity or anything. But I was surprised to find that when I added it all up, I’ve given about 5.8% already. That ain’t half bad!

I’ve got a ways to go, but I’ll be thinking on ways to meet my goals in the next few months. Might not make it for 2011 (as they say, “Prior planning prevents poor performance,” and I didn’t do my prior planning this year), but I’ll at least have some good habits started for 2012.

In the interest of transparency, I feel I should tell you that I am counting gifts to family and friends in this “given away” number. That made me feel a little squicky at first and I might change it for 2012. I’m still mulling. In some ways (like the tax deduction way– gifts to family don’t count for your donation deduction), I feel like it’s cheating, but in other ways, it’s fair, I think. I mean, I could have spent it on something for me and I didn’t, so I’m still giving it away… right? Anyway, more pondering on that will be happening.

The other caveat is that all of the donations are not money donations. Some are the equivalent dollar amount in items. I’ve given away quite a lot of items, even in just the past few months. ItsDeductible.com is what I’m using to estimate how much my give-aways are worth (and to track it for tax purposes). Cool site. Check it out.

So, help me out, dudes. What are your favorite charities? Tell me who I should be giving some of this 10% to, please!