2021 Giving Challenge

Not sure if anyone here would be interested in this, but I’m doing a giving challenge with a couple work friends in 2021 and thought there might be some people here interested as well.

The idea is to track and match spending in a given category or categories (restaurant spending, hobby spending, etc.) with an equal amount of giving (donations, time, etc.), with each person doing the challenge defining for themselves what they want to match and how.

Timeline-wise we’re planning on doing the challenge for the full year with the option for category/donation adjustments each quarter, but that’s something that could be personally defined too if people didn’t want to do a full year or wanted to change categories more often or something like that.

Personally I’m starting this quarter (Jan-March) with matching monthly spending with the exception of home principal, yearly lump-sum things (ex. property taxes), and anything that comes out of my paycheck before I see it (so no matching on any taxes or 401k savings or anything like that) with donations or gifts, and I’ll figure out if I want time to factor into giving or if I just keep it completely separate next quarter since I didn’t get around to doing that before Jan. 1.

(@anomalily, if I was supposed to ping you first, apologies and I can delete this. I got the impression from the About Challenges thread that posting and then asking for approval was the correct order, but I may have misunderstood)


Nope, you did it right! I have to approve new challenges post them here and then I’ll approve, which I did!


I don’t actually have any category that’s equal to my giving goals (aiming for 10% of expenses, which will likely be about $2,000 annually…I don’t have anything else I spend that much on).

Actually, I spend about as much on groceries as I do on giving - $166/month. Interesting…


Toward the end of 2020 I had the idea to give as much to orgs that provide food assistance as I do on food for myself. I didn’t quite get there, and I’m unsure about what to do with orgs that provide more than just food assistance, but I want to make this a goal for 2021.

Also, I tend to do most of my giving at the end of the year but want to get away from that. If I’m committing to this challenge (and I am!), it will be incentive to give monthly when I do my end-of-month spending totals.


I like this idea, I need to work out what to match it with. I have been wanting to increase my donations but haven’t got around to it. So hopefully this inspires me


I’m interested but I need to match it with a low category as I’m low-ish on income and have aggressive debt payment goals.

I’m thinking I’m going to aim to match what I spend on my electric bill, which I haven’t averaged out but ranges from $35 to $70 ish a month. Last year my donations ranged from $20-50 so this would be a meaningful but not impossible jump.

I would just have to match totals for the year, not have an exact match every month. For me giving can include traditional nonprofit donations but will more likely be direct giving to people in need (gofundmes, direct Venmo or cash app, handing people money), donating to bail funds/legal defense funds, and purchasing food/items to distribute through the mutual aid group I participate in.


Interesting challenge! I will have to discuss with spouse on this one before I commit. Last March when we both started working from home I moved our (really high) gas budget over to donations since we weren’t driving our long commutes anymore. Now that we’ve gotten used to that amount, I think we could increase it a little further.

I like the idea of matching our groceries since they tend to be $0-200 higher than our current donation budget (we’re high income so $200 is not that big of a deal in this household and we could definitely match it). Not sure if that would just incentivize me to spend less on groceries though?

Maybe we should try to spend less on groceries so that anything left over in that category goes into the donation bucket? I’ll keep thinking…


Oh fun! I kind of do this with myself already, so this fits into my life quite neatly. :wink:

General goal this year is for my charity spending to minimally equal my groceries spending. Ideally, it would equal (or exceed) my total food spending. My charity spending was about same as my groceries spending in 2020, so hoping I can do the same in 2021.


Ok I’m going to commit before I get tempted again…

Commitment 1: I will match every dollar I spend on clothing for myself up to $150/item*, with donations, within a month. I currently owe $65 to a good cause (Soma sale :grimacing:). GoFundMe can count, personal gifts do not.
Commitment 2: By end of Jan, I will figure out my baseline donations, amounting to at least 10% of my average spending (working up to 10% take home). Matched donations will be one-time giving on top of this.

*I have only ever spent this on winter outerwear. I don’t expect to buy anything over $150/item or even close, but I want a loophole should anything expensive become Necessary come November or something.

Either I will sort out my relationship with my wardrobe/consumerism, or I will give much more to those who need it. Win-win?


this is an interesting idea, thank you for sharing it.

I’ll need to discuss with the shadowy one as to what thing we’d match and whether we’d do it as monthly or quarterly contributions.


Clothing spend: $65
Donations: $33 to gofundme for someone I don’t know in climbing gym community, $32 to fb acquaintance fundraiser for her chronic illness (dysautonomia).


End of January update. Made a couple gifts/donations through the month (local theatre, library, a friend’s birthday gift, patreons) so offsetting some spending with those, but that left $1302 unmatched. Most of that was because of prepaying utilities to take advantage of a CC promotion, but matching the spend with a donation to the local animal rescue.


Update for January (and part of February).

On track so far. The energy bill I’m matching was $49.70 for January, and I made two $25 donations (to a bail relief effort and to a local org) and purchased $9.99 in supplies for mutual aid group.

February bill is $50.58 and I’ve made a $25 donation to a local org and spent $30.73 on a big order of hand warmers for distribution through mutual aid group.

Totals so far:

Energy bill: $100.28
Donations: $115.72


End of February update…the majority of my spending this month was on groceries (Costco stockup), and a chunk of that was offset by parent/sibling/sibling’s kid birthdays at the beginning of March since I include gifts in gifts/donations. That left $194 to match, but work was doing a special match for a couple charities in Texas (both disaster recovery and homelessness initiatives) so I upped a little bit to hit their individual max and am calling February good.


As of 1 March, charity spending is $21.89 higher than groceries spending. :slight_smile:


A couple days late updating, but I ended up with $876 to go to gifts/charity in March (mostly because multi-day ski trips are way more expensive when I’m not comfortable staying at a friend’s place or sharing a room with a couple friends). Unfortunately one of my little cousins was in a very bad accident last weekend so that money is on hold because the US medical system being what it is one of my other relatives is trying to figure out the best way to organize donations.


Most spending this month was the one-off type stuff I wasn’t matching, ex. property taxes and federal/state taxes, but I did get way more food delivery than I realized and booked one trip (for anything reimbursed with airline/cc points I put the actual cost in my spreadsheet so I know how much I’d be spending without points)…between that and the usual bills there’s $1031 to go to as a gift.


Eesh. Between vet visits, a couple more flights (still reimbursed with points but counted for tracking purposes), pre-paying some regular bills for minimum spend on a new credit card, and home repair type stuff it was an expensive month. 2377 to go to charity, although 2000 is/was already sent as part of special matches at work for Indian covid response. Need to really watch the spending next month, though.


I didn’t really track spending diligently for the past couple months but donations spending has continued to solidly exceed my electric bill. This month it over doubled it. But I haven’t tracked well enough to have good numbers.


I haven’t been doing this monthly, but I did just add up my first-half food spending: $1001 ($930 groceries and $71 eating out) EDIT: Oops! that’s $872 ($819 groceries and $53 eating out). (I accidentally double-counted May.) I sent $500 each to two food assistance orgs (and designated my gift as food assistance to the one that does multiple things).

I’m going to set up a monthly recurring $75 to each org once the new month starts, which will about cover my average food expenses. Then I will top up any shortfall at the end of the year.