By Amanda Morrall
Earlier this year, I took part in an international fundraising event organised by the yoga community. Yoga teachers world-wide had a goal of raising $1 million to put toward local charities. I managed to raise about $250 or so after harassing everyone I knew. Truth be told I was a bit disappointed. I thought given my extensive professional and personal connections, on top of a pretty healthy readership, I could shake a bit more out of peoples' pockets. The exercise made me appreciate how difficult it is for charities to fundraise.
The outcome of my fundraising efforts was certainly no reflection of the largess of New Zealanders. According to a report published last year by Giving, New Zealanders donated more than NZ$2.67 billion in 2011, with the bulk of that (58%) coming from personal donations and bequests. That compares favourably to donation rates in Canada, Australia and the U.K. and works out to about 1.35% of GDP.
I was a bit surprised by the figure relative to donation rates in 2006 because I expected the philanthropic impulse would have weakened through the global financial crisis. According to one of the most comprehensive reports of its kind looking at charitable giving in New Zealand, New Zealanders in 2006, gave somewhere between NZ$1.24 billion and NZ$1.46 billion, which is roughly 0.81% of GDP. (See Giving.org.nz report here).
One reason cited for this exponential increase is the Canterbury earthquakes. New Zealanders opened their hearts and wallets in a big way. Another was the removal of the tax rebate cap which incentivised higher corporate contributions rates and those from trusts.
A third but less significant event was the introduction of payroll giving.
For those of you unfamiliar with payroll giving, it's a process whereby you donate a specified amount from your pay to a nominated charity. The advantage of giving this way is that the tax rebate of 33.33% is applied instantly to your paycheque. That's as opposed to making donations here and there during the year, losing your tax receipt or else forgetting to file for a rebate.
Since it was introduced, more than $7.3 million has been donated directly from peoples' pay.
If the tax rebate isn't incentive enough then you might be interested to know that giving really is good for you.
According to the New Economics Foundation, U.K.-based think tank, which runs the Centre for Well-Being, there are five metrics for well-being. The size of your bank account doesn't even rate. Donating does; be it volunteering, or giving money.
In my upcoming book Money Matters, due out in February, I dedicate a chapter to the importance of charitable giving as part of a well rounded personal finance plan. I also review some of the other metrics for well-being as identified by Nef's research. In the spirit of giving, they are as follows:
- Connecting: Social relationships make up the most important cornerstones of life.
- Being active: Regular physical activity is linked to better mental and physical health outcomes and also to happiness.
- Taking notice: Not so much of others but of yourself. Self-study is the path to enlightenment.
- Lifelong learning; On-going personal development and education is key contribution to well-being.
Something to contemplate at Christmas time or in the New Year when you resolve to improve your personal financial well-being.