Are Small Gifts a Waste of Time?

Dear Kim,

I am writing to you as a donor. I give away 10% of my income every year and support about 25 organizations with donations in the $20-$50 range with a few at $100. I live on social security but I don’t have many expenses so I can do this. But I read recently that gifts of $20 and $25 aren’t that useful to organizations because it costs so much to process them. The article said to make fewer gifts of higher amounts. I like giving to a lot of organizations but I don’t want to waste their time (or my money.) You are in fundraising so what do you think?

~Tithing Dilemma

Dear Tithing,

You should do what gives you joy. All gifts are helpful, regardless of size. Organizations should be able to process a gift (record it, thank the donor, send a newsletter) for $5-10 per year. So if your smallest gift is $20, they have 50%-75% of it to devote to their work. Some donors prefer to have a small number of organizations which they support with larger gifts and many, like you, like to support a lot of organizations with gifts of various sizes. It’s all good.

The important thing is to be generous, and you are. Tithing is an important and disciplined expression of generosity and on behalf of all the organizations you support, I thank you.

~Kim Klein