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Pool your resources

By Dan Kadlec, contributing editor


BILLIONAIRES: Take their wealthy pals on a weekend retreat and hit them up for pledges.

YOU: Round up your like-minded friends and pool your charitable resources.

Teaming up with a dozen or so friends to make a large gift to a single charity has become far easier, thanks to social networks. On Facebook you can use the Causes application to create a page for a charity you want to support. Then invite friends to join the cause and give money through the site.

You can use Twitter to broadcast news about a charitable goal you'd like to accomplish, what your deadline is, and updates on how you're doing.

"It helps if there's a sense of urgency," says Beth Kanter, author of The Networked Nonprofit.

Offline, once you've found a willing group of people interested in the same good works, formalize the connection with what's known as a giving circle. In a giving circle, a small group of friends pay annual dues and meet a few times a year to discuss causes they'd like to fund.

Check whether you or your friends might be eligible for a program to match charitable gifts at your company; 34% of large firms offer matches, according to human resources consultancy Aon Hewitt, on amounts from a few hundred to a few thousands dollars a year.

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