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Set Up Automatic Monthly Giving to Charity

by Elizabeth on June 20, 2012

About This Week’s Action

At the end of the year do you pull out your checkbook and start writing checks to numerous charities? That’s what I do. Every year just before Thanksgiving the appeals start rolling in – to my inbox, mailbox, and directly at my door. (Which always makes me feel especially bad because in November in Minnesota it’s not exactly warm.) With all of these organizations asking for money my spouse and I sit down with a list of nonprofits we care about and make donations to each one. While this giving certainly gets me in the holiday spirit, it’s not the best thing to do for the charity or my wallet. This week’s action is to set up automatic monthly giving for an organization that you care most about.

Why Give Monthly to Charity

It helps the charity

The nonprofit organization you’re giving to will be much better off when you set up an automatic contribution. It allows them to be better able to budget because they know how much to expect in the year ahead. Yes, the end of the year push always helps, but think of it like your own budget. If you get a larger monthly salary you are better able to budget your money than if you just got a huge bonus at the end of the year.

It helps your finances

Just as the nonprofit is able to budget better when you give monthly, so too are you. You know exactly how much you are giving based on your ability. And you aren’t stuck at the end of the year not being able to give as much as you’d like. Plus, knowing exactly how much you’ll give over the course of the year allows you to better calculate your tax withholdings.

It makes you feel good

When I give it makes me feel better knowing that my money isn’t only going towards my needs and wants, but it’s also helping other people and missions I believe in. Instead of feeling good only once a year why not feel good every month when you see the donations coming from your bank account?

How Long Does This Action Take?

To set up an automatic monthly gift to charity it will take about 15 minutes.

How to Set Up Monthly Charitable Contributions

1. Decide Which Charity to Give to and How Much to Give

First, decide which charity (or charities) you want to make automatic contributions to.  If you are considering a number of charities and want to get a sense of their stability and financials check out Charity Navigator or GuideStar to research the charities. Charity Navigator allows you to search by keyword for causes you care about and also rates the charities based on a number of criteria. Generally, the lower the administrative overhead of the organization the better – because that means that more money is actually going towards programming and advocacy.

Determine how much you can give based on your own budget. But know that most organizations require a minimum of $5-10 a month to give automatically.

2. Visit the Charity’s Website and Contribute

Nearly every nonprofit allows you to donate on their website. Visit the nonprofit’s site and find the donate button and choose “monthly” for contribution. It’s that easy. (Or, if you prefer, call the organization and they will be happy to set up your recurring donation.)


To commit to taking this week’s action, you could simply just tell yourself you’re going to follow the steps in the how to section. But what are the chances you are actually going to find the time to do this, when you have so many other things to do? Instead, you should commit and hold yourself accountable. To hold yourself accountable do 2 things:

  1. Sign up for the week by registering here. When you “register” for this week’s action on Eventbrite (totally free) it allows us to easily email you twice during the week to help hold you accountable.  (If you want to know why you should do this, read this post.) We’ll email you twice during the week to remind you to take action and check your cell phone usage.
  2. Leave a comment below answering the question: To which nonprofit are you going to give monthly?



About Elizabeth

Elizabeth is an attorney, freelance writer, ice cream lover, and new mom. She is the former co-founder of Go Green Travel Green and writes for Wise Bread.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

kate horrell June 21, 2012 at 5:05 am

I set up a monthly account with Best Friends Animal Shelter in Jan and my donation gets deducted every month from my checking.


Elizabeth Elizabeth June 22, 2012 at 10:02 am

That’s awesome! Do you personally have dogs/cats? We have two big dogs and always wish that we could have more. So many need homes.


Kathleen @ Frugal Portland June 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I do this with the three charities I currently give to. Next month I’ll add another, and by December, I’ll be giving $100 a month to different organizations. Pay it forward, right?


Elizabeth Elizabeth June 22, 2012 at 10:04 am

It sounds like a debt snowball, but for charities! One of my long term goals is to be able to give over10% of my income away each month.


Marlene Clark June 30, 2012 at 4:21 am

Hi Elizabeth,

I’m very thankful to God for giving me a successful business. Since I’m now generating a big income I was planning to give some 5% of it for each charity. As so you know, I’m a freelancer and I have no idea about “charity” stuff. I would like to ask some advice on how am I suppose to go about it.


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