Tithing, donating, charitable giving, it doesn't matter which name you use for it, giving back to the community is what helps to build a community. Tonight I was invited to a book signing that was a fundraiser for an organization that builds schools in Central Asian countries. An interesting point that the author made is that the amount the US spends to help build Iraq communities is quite a bit, yet its not as beneficial as it should be. Don't worry, this isn't a post where I get on my political soap box, rather an observation of our responsibility to ensure the money we give is being used effectively.
We are entering the season of giving when organizations mail out their annual request letters; school children are loaded down with brochures selling wrapping paper, cookie dough, and holiday greens; people are out ringing bells; and donation cans are passed around. Its also the season when questionable requests are made. Before you drop a few coins in the jar, see if its a reputable charity. Don't be afraid to ask organizations how much of each dollar goes to their programs and how much goes to administrative expenses. If your favorite kid is asking you to buy something, see if you can donate money or supplies to the organization rather than the marketing company that will give them $.05 for every dollar spent.
Make your donation work just as hard as if it were in your budget.