If you’re anything like me, when you first started earning disposable income and were no longer living from paycheck to paycheck, you had no idea how to begin being a philanthropist or what that even meant. You knew you wanted to give, but didn’t know “the protocols.” (Or if there were any protocols to begin with).
What I found out, after what can only be described as an overzealous amount of Googling, is that philanthropy is “kindliness, humanity, benevolence, and love to humankind” (which doesn’t necessarily just mean money, so I was always “doing philanthropy” since I started volunteering for organizations I cared about), there are no protocols, but a typical amount that people donate ranges from 3-10% of their net monthly income (It’s interesting to note that people closer to the poverty line typically give at the higher range, which I hope inspires the rest of us to step it up.). This is typically divided between donations to peoples’ faith, schools, mutual aid, and charities.
Only you know what your actual disposable income is and which number in that range is doable for you, but we’re going to go deeper with my net income and monthly giving as an example. But first, why give monthly?
Monthly giving is sustainable giving for an organization
Monthly donations are a nonprofit’s most stable source of funding. We won’t get all the grants we write proposals for, we don’t know if our end-of-the-year or mid-season ask will result in the donations we need, but we can guarantee that the monthly donors we have will (generally) give every month. We can calculate that and count on it.
Monthly doors also give on average 42% more per year than donors who give one-time donations. While it may be hard sometimes to cut a check for $100, it’s easy to set up a $10 monthly donation and forget about it, resulting in $120 over the course of the year.
And speaking of forgetting about it, people who give monthly don’t have to remember to check their emails and mailboxes for their yearly reminder (which also saves the time of sending it, allowing us to do more program work). This results in donor retention and decreased fundraising operating costs.
What I love the most, as a donor, is the convenience. I can set exactly when I want that money to come out of my accounts so that it doesn’t come out when rent is due and I may be stretched thin, I’m already used to monthly automatic payments (phone, internet, electric, my cat’s health insurance are all done this way), I don’t have to remember anything (it’s all automated), and I know that I’m helping nonprofits I care about with sustainable giving.
What giving 10% looks like for me
First, we need to start with my net income per month including this job, my part-time job, and my side gigs. While it varies depending on the hours I put in at my other positions, I’m going to guestimate that it comes to about $3,200. At 10% giving, that would mean, I will be donating $320 of that. Remember, this is typically divided between donations to peoples’ faith, schools, mutual aid, and charities.
As an atheist, I don’t have any faith-based giving. But I was raised as a Roman Catholic, and I know that the required tithes for that faith were 10%. In which case, I would be done! $320 would be given directly to my church; $80 each week at mass. But my total in this category will be $0.
Chris’s Table of Monthly Giving
I’m not in school and I don’t have children to send to school, so again, my giving in this category would be $0. For people with kids at underfunded and underresourced schools, your $320 might all go here. Only you know what your schools need.
Here is where I send the bulk of my giving. Being a queer, mixed-race, trans nonbinary person, I have a lot of folks in my community that I support. I have a couple of monthly mutual aid donations set up and I give my $20 to at least two people in need a week (There’s a saying in the trans community that we all send around the same $20 until it’s our time to collect). On average, that means $210 of my dollars go into this category.
That means I have $110 a month that I can send to charities!
From here, I can decide which charities I want to give to with my $110.
Will $5 a month make a difference?
When I first started donating, my numbers looked very different, and I wondered if donating $5 a month would make any difference to the organizations I wanted to support. The answer is yes! $5 is 8 1/3 stamps a nonprofit didn’t have before you gave it. $5 a month is also $60 a year.
And when you think about monthly giving, think of it not just as your $5, but as a grouping of every monthly donors’ gift. We give to organizations together, and all of our amounts add up. We give together and we make a difference together.
Consider starting your monthly gift to Rocky Mountain Wild today. New general fund monthly donations and increased monthly donations made between today (Philanthropy Day) and Giving Tuesday (November 29) will enter you in a drawing for two gift bags. One contains: a plush little brown bat, bat tee, and Bat Ambassador magnet. The other: a plush American pika, The American Pika: Notes from the Field book, Colorado Pika Project sticker, an American pika sticker from Deirdre Denali Photography.
And if Rocky Mountain Wild mission isn’t where your priorities are right now, we understand. Check out some other organizations doing good works in Colorado.