I say it every year: I need a charitable giving plan. Instead of having a well thought out plan for donating money throughout the year, I find that after receiving a critical mass of charitable solicitations in the mail or in my email, I plunk down in front of the computer and dole out $50 here and $100 there. Most of these solicitations are from charities that I've supported for some time. But this means I rarely branch out from my 10 or so groups and have no idea if there is another charity more deserving or in need of my funds.

This also wreaks havoc on my finances. Instead of giving all year, I strain our bank account in November, withdrawing major sums holiday gifts, birthday gifts (we have three December birthdays in my immediate family) and donations. Then I resort to dipping into savings or using any gift money received during the holidays to settle up.

So readers, how do you plan for charitable donations? What method works for you? Or are you like me and find yourself donating en masse at year-end?