Charitable Giving

The summer giving slump. Help your charities avoid it.

Some call it the “summer slump.” Others, the “summer drought.” Either way, the meaning is clear: Summer can be a slow season for charitable giving.

For some organizations, the drop in charitable donations couldn’t come at a worse time. Take, for example, charities that help feed the hungry. During the school year, food banks and soup kitchens get some relief from the National School Lunch Program, which provides meals for about 21.5 million low-income children, but only one in six of these children is reached by federal Summer Nutrition Programs. That leaves local food banks scrambling to fill the gap—at the very time when donations are drying up.

Vacations—you relax, charities strain.

Summer is peak vacation season. And while donors are away, charities can suffer. Nonprofits that count on volunteers often have a smaller pool to tap during summer months.

Among the hardest hit are organizations that depend on schools and businesses for group efforts, such as hosting blood drives or collecting food for charity. Although many businesses are engaged year-round, summer participation can drop because, at any given time, fewer employees are at work.

What can you do?

Reach out to local organizations; especially those that could use extra help in the summer. Does the local library need assistance with summer reading programs? What about summer camps or educational enrichment programs? Chances are there’s an organization or event where your time and talents will make a difference.

Here are more ways to heat up your giving this summer.

Set up recurring grants. Many charities offer the option to make recurring gifts online. This is an excellent way to donate to charities on a regular basis. Because your gifts will be made automatically, on a pre-set schedule, your favorite charities can count on a steady stream of support—regardless of the season. An easy way to do this is with a donor-advised fund

Moving? Pack up your belongings with an eye toward charitable giving. Instead of moving non-perishable food items, take them to a local food pantry. Find places to donate gently used but no-longer-needed clothes, books and other items.

Declutter your home with charitable organizations in mind. Even if you’re not moving, you could probably use a summer clean out. Start by putting boxes in each bedroom. Encourage family members to fill the boxes with clothes and other items they no longer use. Then, take the boxes to your preferred collection site. You reclaim some space at home and your former belongings are put to good use. That’s a win-win.

Give blood. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. That doesn’t change during the summer. If anything, demand for blood can increase because more people are outdoors, enjoying activities that can result in injuries—and the need for transfusions. You can help prevent shortages by making an appointment to donate blood. Even better, encourage your employer to help boost donations by scheduling a blood drive at work.

Organize a car wash or other outdoor fundraising activity. Take advantage of the warmer weather to support a favorite charity. Involve friends and family, make it fun and it could be the start of a summer tradition.

Make a vacation donation. If you return to a favorite vacation spot year after year, think about making a summer gift to a charity in that community. Consider it your way of saying, “Thanks for the memories.”

Whether you’re enjoying a staycation or away, try not to take a vacation from summer giving. In many cases, you’ll be making a difference when it matters most.

Need more inspiration? Our guide to summer giving can help.

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