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Plan Well, Retire Well

Should I ask for donations instead of birthday gifts?

There seems to be a recent trend, thanks to Facebook, of asking for donations for your (or someone else's) birthday instead of gifts. For the last two years, we have asked for donations to our son's birthday instead of toys or gifts that he might play with for a few minutes and then forget about. Here are some items to consider if you've been wanting to ask for donations for your birthday or a child of yours!

Where to donate?

One of the biggest decisions you have to make is, where do you ask your friends and family to donate to? You definitely want to make sure that the organization you choose is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Thankfully the IRS has a database to check the organization you choose! If you decide to donate somewhere locally that you can't find their 501(c)(3) status, you can always ask for it. If you'd like to check if the charity is trustworthy, you can contact organizations like the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance or Charity Navigator."

When and why to donate?

When and why do you want people donate to the charity you've chosen. Is it in honor of your birthday or a loved one? Is it for an anniversary or holiday? Just because? Let your friends and family know either on social media or an email. Let them know in advance if you can, so people can plan for it in their budgets.

It may also be a great idea to let your friends and family know why you want them to donate to the charity that has ties to your heart. Maybe you love babies or puppies or unicorns (well, not unicorns but you get the idea). If you don't personalize your donation, people may choose to spend their money elsewhere.

Can I do something besides make a donation?

Of course! Maybe you collect food for a food bank or toys for a shelter. Maybe you ask that people go do small random acts of kindness for other people on the special day. Sometimes money is tight for friends and family, and while they may want to donate, they can't. Giving them other options can help your friends and family.

What to do when your family opts to give a gift instead of donating?

Maybe you (the gift giver) would rather send a small toy than give a cash donation! That's ok too! Depending on the age of the recipient it may be more appropriate for a toy or small gift. You know your friend or family member best, and only you will know if they'd really appreciate your gift or prefer you to donate. It is something to consider when deciding whether to donate or give a gift.

Is Facebook the best place to donate?

According to this article "Facebook charges a fee of five percent for processing the donation. Nonprofits receive 95 percent of each donation." It also makes a comment about how Facebook will show up on your credit card instead of to the organization you're sending the donation to. This might be another thing to consider when donating through Facebook. To read more about the donation process through Facebook go here.

Whether you celebrate your birthday with a donation, birthday party or a RAK (random act of kindness) it's your special day! Enjoy the day however you want, and don't get caught up in the tree when there is a whole forest of possibilities!