When government funding tightens, as it’s sure to do in the coming years, nonprofits rely more heavily on private donations to help them continue to fight the good fight. It’s frequently easy to get overwhelmed by bills, causes, and time constraints to talk ourselves out of donating.  Common reasons to procrastinate vary from:

  • There are too many choices, how can I pick just one?
  • How do I know if it’s a legitimate charity with the money really going to the cause?
  • I don’t have enough money to really make a difference.

Let’s solve them one by one.  First off, don’t get caught caught up in the amount of problems to be solved. Progress is one step at a time.  Donations are one dollar at a time.

At Little Hinges, we recommend making a list of just 1-5 causes that hold your interest. It’s your list.  You don’t have to share it with anyone or worry about what’s on the list. One Little Hinger completely distraught over recent political outcomes sat down last week and made her list of five potential charities. Just having the list and an action plan of how to start donating, helped her recenter her energies toward action.

Once you have a list — refrain from distressing about what’s not on your list. Life is long. Other causes will make it on the list soon enough. Trust that another Little Hinger will be also adopting those causes to fill the void.

Make a commitment to donate something to each cause on your list on a defined time plan, perhaps donating to Cause #1 on your list this month, and donating to Cause #2 next month.  Keep going until you make it through your list. That’s when you can decide to rotate back through your list or add new causes on.

If you’re worried about legitimacy — pick a charity that’s well known. If you’ve heard of it multiple times over the course of your lifetime, it’s likely legitimate enough for now. Don’t respond to solicitations to your inbox or by phone. Pick a charity that has intrigued you over time, and make this the time you commit to it. There’s certainly no substitution for good research on a charity, but this is the time for action not research. Research is an easy excuse for procrastination.Your donation will not be so large that you have to worry too much right now about making mistakes. In Little Hinge speak, this is taking a swing at something. You’re a new team player at bat. You’ll get more discerning as you strengthen your donor muscles.

Choose a small enough donation that it doesn’t hurt your pocket book, or bruise your ability to invest in self care. We recommend just $10-$25 per paycheck. This amount generally won’t impact on your ability to pay your own bills.

There is a legitimate debate on whether you’re better off investing consistently in one charity to help build a base for them, or investing in several causes.  There’s no right answer. This is about you taking a small, consistent action and feeling like you are starting to make a dent (no matter how small) in helping create positive change. There’s nothing wrong with just having one charity on your list and consistently sending them a monthly small donation.

Here’s what we do know at Little Hinges — lots of little actions add up to big things. That’s why penny drives are so valuable in elementary schools and United Way funds look for more small employee donors in addition to the big employer donors.  Many charities approach large donors by showing the breadth of their support base, hence 100 small donors do add up for that charity.

Action Step: Today, make a list of 3 charities that come to the top of your mind without much thought. Tomorrow review your list and see if one stands out to make a first donation. It won’t be your last or only donation, so just ask the other two to have a little patience.

Tweetable: #MakeChangeHappen. Progress happens one step and one dollar at a time. Put your money where your heart is.