As the holiday season makes its inevitable way towards us, I am barraged daily by charities. By email, snail mail, text, on social media, at the supermarket, and by phone—everyone has a cause that needs my money. All of the causes are good ones, from helping to prevent children’s diseases to societies aiding abused women and I feel badly that I can’t support every single one, but I can’t. I simply cannot give to all.

One day, after having gone through a pile of solicitations at home, I went to a local coffee bar only to be accosted by an elderly woman sweetly asking for a donation to a local charity. She seemed genuinely annoyed when I said I didn’t have any extra cash with me. Turn around was fair play and I became the annoyed one when she said,

“Well, dear, you could donate that money you’re spending on that overpriced cup of coffee, you know.”

I went in and bought my cup of coffee, overpriced or not. I drew the line at being told what I should do with the money I had earned. Her comment bordered on harassment.

I am all for donating my time and money to charities but the solicitations have become so numerous that I don’t know where to give. I also don’t want to be perpetually broke. Deciding which charity was close to my heart and right for me was a necessity and it kept me sane. Giving to the causes which were important to my values and life gave me focus and made me feel I was doing something worthwhile.

If you have a problem with organization after organization bombarding you with requests for donations, here are a few simple rules to follow.

Decide what cause is important to you and only you. You can’t give to all so you need to focus on what charity tugs at your heart the most and leaves you feeling your donation has done the most good. You and solicitors may have different charities but that’s fine; you are, after all, individuals.

Don’t be pressured into giving to every reputable group. Give what you can easily afford, no more. Remember that you are not required to give anything if you don’t want to do so or if you really can’t afford it.

No matter how many “gifts” an organization sends you in the mail, you are not obligated to give. Most of the gift items are donated anyway so don’t feel they have lost money because you’re not donating.

If you can’t donate money to the cause you’ve chosen, how about your time? A friend brings her collie to an elder care home as a therapy pet. My neighbor volunteers at a women’s safe house. However, be aware.The same rule for donations applies to volunteering; choose only the charity closest to your heart.

Get on the National Do Not Call list if you’re bothered by phone solicitors.

Tell people who do solicit you that you’re sure their cause is very worthwhile, but that you are strongly committed to another equally worthwhile one. Then solicit them for your charity!

Charity blesses both the giver and the receiver. Bless yourself and your cause by donating your money where your heart tells you.


  • Kristen Houghton

    Kristen Houghton

    Thrive Global

    Kristen Houghton is the award-winning author of the popular series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation.  She is also the author of nine novels, two non-fiction books, a collection of short stories, a book of essays, and a children’s novella. Her horror novel, Welcome to Hell, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. Houghton has covered politics, news, and lifestyle issues as a contributor to the Huffington Post. Her writing portfolio includes Criminal Element Magazine, a division of Macmillan Publishing, Today, senior fiction editor at Bella Magazine, interviews and reviews for HBO documentaries, OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, and The Style Channel. Before becoming a full-time  author, Kristen, who holds an Ed.D. in linguistics, taught World Languages on the high school and university levels. Along with her husband, educator Alan William Hopper, she is a philanthropist for Project Literacy and Shelters With Heart, safe havens for victims of domestic abuse and their pets . mailto:  [email protected]