In this “Money With Mak and G” podcast episode, Mak & G talk about the importance of giving over Christmas, how we can help charities without spending money, and the scientific studies that show how giving makes you happy.
Giving doesn’t have to cost money, if you’re clever about it there are ways to save money by giving to charity.
In this episode, Mak & G talk about the different ways we can give to charities during Christmas, the extent that COVID hurt charities, and how you can save money through tax-deductible donations…
“The beautiful thing about charity is you get to share what you have, like food, gifts, money, and other stuff with people who don’t have as much.” – Mak
“There’s a little more room for charity in all our lives.” – G
01:03 – Planning out what gifts to give for Christmas.
02:33 – Giving to charity during the holidays.
03:20 – How important Christmas is to charities.
03:50 – How much charitable giving goes up during Christmas.
04:05 – How COVID hurt charities.
04:44 – How much spending goes up during Christmas.
05:35 – How to gift a charitable donation.
06:05 – Companies that have a charitable side.
07:30 – Different ways to give to charity.
07:50 – How to save money by giving money to charity.
08:28 – How to set up a donor-advised fund.
09:05 – The benefits of volunteering for charity.
09:35 – How food banks work.
11:11 – Scientific studies showing how giving makes you happy.
11:49 – How organ donation affects the mental health of donors.
Connect with Ben Jones:
GRANT: Hey Mak. What a BEAUTIFUL day. Fresh and frosty, just how I like it.
MAK: I think you mean FREEZING COLD. What’s put you in such a good mood?
GRANT: Whaddaya mean? I have a naturally sunny disposition.
GRANT: What? I do! Ok. Except for the times I don’t, and I get a little mad, like whenever someone “tidies” my stuff and none of it is where it should be and makes it smell good.
MAK: That sounds a little more like you.
GRANT: Ok, so I am a bit more chipper than usual…but it’s just that I already have ALL my Christmas gifts planned out.
MAK: You mean you’ve planned out the gifts you’re getting?
GRANT: Turn down the sass a notch there sis, I mean the gifts I’m GIVING. I’m a giver.
GRANT: So, now that’s done, I can sit back, relax, and enjoy the Christmas vibes.
MAK: Welllll…not quite bro.
MAK: You know as well as I do that there’s a LOT more to Christmas than gifts.
GRANT: Yeah, right. Like turkey.
MAK: Grant! No. That’s not what I mean.
GRANT: Ok…so…the candy?
MAK: No! Not even close.
GRANT: I gotcha. You mean the Boney M Christmas album
MAK: Nooo! Wow, that was interesting …But also, yes… a little bit. Can’t get enough of the Christmas music.
GRANT: Nice. I didn’t know you “hablo el español” so well “mi hermana”.
MAK: That’s literally all I know. But anyway. This is a major side-track Grant.
GRANT: Right. You were going to tell me whatever I’ve forgotten that’s so important about Christmas.
MAK: I was. And actually, you’re closer than you think. You said you’re a giver…
GRANT: Because I am…
MAK: …which is great, because I’m talking about GIVING to charity during the holiday season.
GRANT: Ohhh you’re so right. Now I feel bad. I was just thinking about food and gifts.
MAK: Don’t feel bad! Those things are important too. But the beautiful thing about charity is, you get to share what you have, like food, gifts, money and other stuff with people who don’t have much.
GRANT: Too true. And at Christmas time, charity is even more important than normal.
MAK: Sure is. There are a TON of ways to give to great causes.
GRANT: There sure are, but, before we get to that, what does Christmas mean to the charities themselves?
MAK: Great question Grant. As you might expect, Christmas is pretty important.
GRANT: Because people give more to charity at Christmas, right?
MAK: Well, almost . It’s not that people give more, but that more people give.
GRANT: Wait…that sounds like the same thing. So, it’s not the same people giving more money, it’s actually that more, different people give similar amounts of money.
MAK: Exactly! On average, charitable giving goes up by around 5% at Christmas time. So it’s an important time of year for fundraising so they can make their budget to deliver to those in need.
GRANT: We’ve talked about giving should be in your budget. But charities have budgets too?
MAK: Absolutely. If they don’t receive the money donations they expected, they can’t do, and help everyone they planned to help.
GRANT: And, haven’t charities been hurt by COVID?
MAK: You’re so right, COVID has reduced donations to some charities by 30% or more.
GRANT: And, I read that more people need help now too!! So, if we’re talking about a 5% increase in donations during the holidays, that doesn’t sound like much.
MAK: I thought the same thing. So, I did some research and you’ll never guess what?
GRANT: Hit me.
MAK: Like, right between the eyes?
GRANT: No. I meant just tell me what you found out.
MAK: Oh. Ok. So charitable giving goes up by around 5%. But spending on gifts to family and friends goes up by close to ONE HUNDRED PER CENT!!
GRANT: WHAT?! Like, it DOUBLES? I guess that makes sense, it’s about the only time of year a lot of people exchange gifts, apart from birthdays.
MAK: Bro imagine if your birthday was on Christmas day. That would suck.
GRANT: It would…nobody would remember. Aunt Lori’s birthday is near Christmas. She rarely gets birthday presents.
MAK: That’s sad. But, we’re getting sidetracked again. So, gift spending goes up by 100%, and spending on alcohol goes up by 40%!! And, that’s all compared to 5% for charities.
GRANT: Wowzers. So I guess there’s room for a little MORE charity in all our lives.
MAK: Sure seems that way, and actually, that’s one of the coolest ways to give I read about recently.
GRANT: What’s that?
MAK: You can actually gift a charitable donation. For example, you can financially sponsor a child in a developing country.
GRANT: You help by donating money, so they can get supplies for school, clothes and food because they may not have it?
MAK: Absolutely. You can do it for somebody else, and put their name on it, instead of giving them something they may not need like slippers or a tie.
GRANT: Cool. And, there are even actual gifts that have a charitable side. Some shoe companies, like TOMS SHOES. They donate one pair of shoes for every pair they sell. Stuff like that.
MAK: Exactly. Lots of companies donate a percentage of their profits to charity all year round. We love the “Newman’s Own” food brand. They have donated over $550 million since it started.
GRANT: We have to buy a little extra pineapple salsa for the holidays. Other charities help people around the world sell their products so those in need can make money and earn what they need to live.
MAK: So you could buy directly from them?
GRANT: Yep. The United Nations Children Fund, or UNICEF helps children around the world. They actually have a marketplace with lots of unique options to choose from.
MAK: And, the profits help children in need?
GRANT: Sure does. You can support almost anything. “Cards for a Cause” donates 20% of sales of holiday cards. They’ve donated over $1.2 million. If we don’t make our own, it could be a great new tradition!
MAK: And, they give their money to:
GRANT: Make a wish Foundation
MAK: American Red Cross
GRANT: Habitat for Humanity
MAK: The Alzheimer’s association
GRANT: And, others..
MAK: So apart from Christmas gifts that are charitable, what other ways are there to give to charity?
GRANT: Well, donating cash is the obvious one. And probably the easiest way of all.
MAK: Sure. That’s the one everyone will already know. BUT there’s a thing about giving cash which is GOOD to know.
GRANT: What’s that Mak?
MAK: That it can actually save you money!
GRANT: What? Giving money can save you money…that sounds too good to be true.
MAK: Well, it’s not! Let me explain. When you donate money to charity, sometimes you can deduct that donation from your income on your tax return, which means you pay less tax!
GRANT: That’s awesome! If your income tax is 25%…
MAK: So far so smart…
GRANT: And, if you donate $1,000 to charity you might be able to save 25% which is $250.
MAK: So you save $250 on your tax bill AND get to give to charity.
GRANT: Dad is the tax master and set up a Donor Advised Fund, when he needed a large tax deduction.
MAK: Super simple to set up. He made his contribution and invested it. He’s given away over $30k and he…
GRANT: Still has more than what he started with AND a big fat tax deduction. He did a video on the EduCounting YouTube channel.
MAK: I know that’s how he’ll be giving to charities this year and for years to come.
GRANT: Yep, that thing is cool, tax smart and it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
MAK: So, how else can you give to charity at Christmas?
GRANT: Another cool way is by volunteering, so instead of giving money to a great charity, you give some of your time, for free, to help out.
MAK: This is such a great way to give because it doesn’t cost you ANY money. Even if things are a little tight-
GRANT: – like they are for a lot of people in this crazy year of COVID –
MAK: – right, then you can still give something back to a good cause.
GRANT: Exactly. There are LOTS of ways to do that. One of the most awesome is to volunteer at a food bank.
MAK: A what now? A bank? Sounds good so far!! But, it looks after your food for you?
GRANT: Ha. Not quite. A food bank is where you can make a deposit of food. The food bank watches over the food, like a bank does for your money. Then they’ll distribute it to families that need help.
MAK: It blows my mind we even have these in America today. Aren’t we the richest country in the world?
GRANT: No kidding. So sad.
MAK: But I guess that also shows why it’s so important to give at Christmas too. Including volunteering.
GRANT: So if you volunteer, you might help to organize the food, make sure it’s all good to eat, deliver it and more.
MAK: Sounds like a pretty awesome way to give back and have fun.
GRANT: Sure does. What else could we do?
MAK: I like to make things, and another cool idea is you can make crafts for charity. “Made 4 Aid” does that and has a shop on Etsy. It’s awesome. You can also donate toys to a toy drive.
GRANT: Love it! Some will take “gently used” toys, like our Razor Scooters that we’ve grown out of, or that Barbie doll I definitely never played with once or twice!
MAK: Ha! You’re so busted on that big bro, ever since you dropped your Barbie bombshell on the video episode we did.
GRANT: Hey, I’m man enough to admit it. All the other guys are simply lying!!
MAK: And I admire that.
GRANT: And you know what? I feel pretty good about all our Christmas charity ideas we’ve had.
MAK: Me too. And guess what. SCIENCE can tell you why.
GRANT: What? Science? Totally lost me there Mak.
MAK: Stay with me bro. Basically there have been a TON of studies that show that giving makes you…….HAPPY!!
GRANT: Surely you mean GETTING something makes you happy.
MAK: Well, yeah it can, but the study shows that receiving a gift has a SHORT-TERM happy kick.
GRANT: Ok, but let me guess – giving makes you a big time happy kick, for a lot longer?
MAK: You got it! The crazy thing is, it can even just be one thing you give. Doesn’t even need to be on a regular basis.
GRANT: Nuts. I’m gonna try that. What could I give away?
MAK: How about…a kidney?
GRANT: HUH?? Mak, I think you’ve gone crazy. The men in white coats will be here very soon.
MAK: Ok so maybe that is a little too much. But one of these studies focused on “organ donors”. Those are the people who DID give a kidney or body part, and saved someone’s life.
GRANT: Didn’t Uncle Tony give his bone marrow to his daughter Sami?
MAK: He did, and I bet he feels amazing about that.
GRANT: When you think about giving like that, I can see why it’d be a great feeling. For…. like… for…e…ver.
MAK: Totally! Every year they celebrate the anniversary. But don’t worry, I’m not going to make you do that.
GRANT: Ok that’s a relief…
MAK: But any of the great ideas we’ve come up with today would give you the same little bit of lasting happiness, and it doesn’t have to cost you a single cent or your liver!
GRANT: I’m so down for that.
MAK: Awesome. Because we haven’t even talked about the most important part.
GRANT: Right. You mean the other side of all the giving.
MAK: Exactly. Meaning, all the people who need the stuff that charities provide and who get to have something resembling a normal Christmas thanks to everyone’s generosity.
GRANT: Total win-win. People give, it makes them feel great, people receive, it helps them out of a tough spot.
MAK: Right on.
GRANT: Hey, where’s dad? He seems kind of quiet.
MAK: You’re right…a little too quiet…
DAD: Don’t come in! Don’t come in!
MAK: I don’t even wanna know what he’s doing there…
GRANT: I’m praying he’s wrapping gifts. The longer he’s taking the more he has to do. Otherwise.. I don’t want to even think about it.
DAD: Ok it’s safe now!
MAK: Dad what on earth are you doing??
GRANT: Please say it’s wrapping gifts.
DAD: You got it G-man! Tell me you guys didn’t peek.
MAK/GRANT: We didn’t.
DAD: Good. Not a fan of “peekers”. It ruins all the magic of Christmas.
GRANT: Dad we’ve been talking about Christmas giving, charities, all the cool stuff you can do to give back to the world.
MAK: We wanted to know what YOU’RE going to do to give back this year.
DAD: Great question! I guess I hadn’t really thought about it yet. Maybe use my donor advised fund.
MAK: TOLD YOU!!
GRANT: Well, if you don’t use that, there are tons of options, and we can make a plan and do our giving together.
MAK: Great idea Grant. After all, the best way to share Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear…
DAD: Sure is…you guys ready…?
DAD/MAK/GRANT: We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmaaaaaas….and a Happy New Year!!
DAD: We’ll be back next week with a VERY special edition Christmas episode! So make sure to join us.
MAK: Do not miss it!
GRANT: We’ll see you next week…
Ben’s 2 Cents
Last week we talked about how Christmas can be tough to afford. It’s an expensive time of year for sure. And trying to throw yet another expense in there is a big ask. But as we talked about today, giving doesn’t have to cost money! Giving time, or things you make, is as valuable if not more valuable to those in need. And there are so many ways to do it! Get online and do some research for places looking for volunteers in your area. Make sure you talk to an adult about what you have in mind, and stay safe. We promise you, and science backs us up on this! – it’ll make you feel great! Until next time, thanks for being here and don’t forget to like, comment, subscribe, and review! Thanks!