Like many people out there, I’m going through my personal and household spending this week to see where DJ and I can shed a few extra pounds. Every six months or so I review our budget anyway, but it seemed particularly necessary right now with both of us watching our spending, unsure what the New Year will bring.
Fortunately I’ve found a few areas – there were one or two naughty meals out in December which we can do without now and I think I can also get the grocery bill down a bit again by more savvy shopping. Plus a club membership and the cat insurance are for the chop I think. But one thing I’m having a crisis of conscience over is a charity donation.
The question is – how far should we go to save money? Should aspiring frugalists rid themselves of charity donations altogether or make cuts elsewhere in their budget so they can continue them? After all, many charities are really struggling in the credit crunch. Big corporations which usually donate millions are axing their contributions and charities are also finding it tougher to make money from legacies, such as houses they’ve been left because they can’t sell them easily. And although business is probably good in your local charity shop, stock is falling as people donate fewer items, hoping instead to sell them on Ebay.
But charity begins at home and if you’re somebody who’s facing dire straits (thankfully not me) then how can you contribute to other people’s welfare if you don’t have the funds to look after yourself? Now I’ll admit that I’m not all heart and I’ve happily cancelled direct debit donations in the past to other charities. Somehow it’s easier to do if it’s just £5 a month to a faceless institution, even if it makes you feel a bit guilty because they are trying to cure cancer or rescue unwanted animals.
However, I now sponsor a child. It’s a completely different experience to the bog standard charity donation. Obviously I’ve never met her – she lives in Senegal – but I know her name. They send me photos of her, school reports and little pictures that she’s drawn for me. I even get a Christmas card from her and they tell me when her birthday is coming up. And while the monthly donation is not insubstantial, I’m not sure I can bring myself to cancel it. After all, this child needs the money an awful lot more than I do and what if they can’t find a replacement sponsor?
Obviously if I start having trouble finding work – something I’m preparing myself for – and find I genuinely can’t afford the donation, I will have to bite the bullet and cancel it. But for now I will continue with it, I think.
Are you still giving to charity in the credit crunch or have you cancelled your donations? Do you work for a charity that’s finding it tough to raise funds? Leave a message and let me know.
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