Sometimes people need tangible, convincing reasons before they take action toward planning for something that might seem obvious. For example, you may know that it's important to take some time to plan for your retirement. But maybe you haven't done so -- because you haven't considered some important reasons to do so. Let me help you out:

  • Fail to prepare for retirement, and you may one day have to sell your home when you don't want to just to generate money to live on. You'll then end up renting an apartment or maybe moving into a smaller home in a less comfortable neighborhood.

  • Fail to plan for retirement, and you may discover (when it's sort of too late) that the $500,000 you've socked away when you retire won't provide the kind of yearly income you thought it would.

  • Fail to save effectively for retirement, and instead of leaving a little something to your kids, your last years may be spent taking money from them just to get by.

Got it? Sometimes these troubling reasons can help us to take important actions. (Let us help you get your retirement blueprint drawn up via a free trial of our Rule Your Retirement service. Check it out.)

So let's change directions a little now. It's Foolanthropy season at the moment, a time when we invite you to support some special charitable organizations. I asked some Fool Community members to share their reasons for participating in our drive and got some good responses.

Reasons to participate in Foolanthropy
Fool Community member yeilBagheera noted: "At the end of the drive, the organization that raises the most financial support from members will receive an additional $10,000 from the Fool." Then he added: "I like the idea of pooling my money with others. [The Motley Fool's] emphasis on education appeals to me."

BigSkyGal added: "I like the open discussion, for I haven't seen any other charity drives be participatory in that light. We not only get to put forward our pet charities (no pun intended, since I'm so obviously rooting for pro-animal charities this year), but we get to root around and find out if anyone else shares similar values. I also like the Foolanthropic view on solving long-term problems. Finally, instead of just me sending my middling contribution to a charity or two, it's nice to think of inspiring others to take action."

Kasuma724 explained: "I give because it changes me psychologically. It keeps me from suffering fear and being totally self-absorbed . It reminds me how much I have to be grateful for in my life. It reminds me that by virtue of being born American, I am automatically wealthier than the majority of people in the world. ... And I give, in part, because I believe it is what God commands me to do -- so I give as an act of faith." She added: "I chose to participate in Foolanthropy in addition to my 'standard' plan because: 1. I have looked into the organizations and can heartily support each in their mission. 2. While I believe most giving should be done secretly and without fanfare, I like being part of a community that gives. I am not looking for personal recognition, but for the momentum such a community drive can develop -- adding my gift to others may help inspire even more people to give. 3. Giving as part of the Fool community helps remind me that while there is no shame in building wealth, it can never be my only focus."

Ivangrowth offered a terrific main reason for participating: "I am part of this community. Granted, it is a very different community than my parish, or my neighborhood, etc., but it is a community and I am part of it. If my community is doing something, I am part of it."

Odee chimed in, saying: ".to see the power of Fool donations via Foolanthropy makes one realize that others are willing to give to good causes. Watching the donations rise, no matter how small one's donation was -- gives you a good feeling about the community."

If you tell two people and they tell two people.
Finally, LudditeAndroid answered the question of "Why do you support Foolanthropy?" by saying, "Because it's the right thing to do," pointing out "what a large impact our pooled donations can have on a charity, especially on a small, efficient charity. To give an example, look at the revenue/expenses trend for Ashoka, a previous Foolanthropy pick: Look what's happened to that charity's revenue since it was highlighted by Foolanthropy. The revenue in 2004 was more than 2001, 2002, and 2003 combined. That's a massive impact."

I agree. I'm not sure how much credit Foolanthropy deserves for the organization's recent success, but I'm sure we did make some difference. I remember that a few years back, we supported the Grameen Foundation USA, with many Fools chipping in several hundred thousand dollars. But our impact went far beyond that. Here's what Grameen director Alex Counts reported back in 2000:

One of The Motley Fool donors contacted us in early 2000 and offered to match up to $500,000 raised for micro-credit programs in India. We ended up raising $700,000, so we received the full match from the donor. We will be providing these funds as loan capital to the three Indian programs mentioned above. With an average loan size of about $75, this $1.2 million will fund more than 150,000 loans in the first year alone! There is no way we would have come in contact with this donor if not for The Motley Fool connection.

Very recently, a Mexican businessman who was inspired by the story above has notified us that he, too, is willing to match up to $500,000 for micro-credit programs in Mexico, so we are expecting to raise that money in the months ahead! So, you can see, our organization has benefited tremendously from our partnership with The Motley Fool.

It's pretty amazing what a humble little charity drive can accomplish, isn't it?

Giving as investing
In another post, Kasuma724 explained that, ".my giving is an investment. It's just investing in people rather than wealth." To that, I say, "Amen."

I'll also point out that there are some other parallels between giving and investing. Gifts to many organizations last a long time. If you lift one family out of poverty, those folks may turn around and help lift another family out. (This happens all the time, such as through the work of this year's Foolanthropy campaign's recipient organization Heifer International.)

In a similar vein, think of dividends. If you invest in VerizonCommunications (NYSE:VZ), which is paying a 5% dividend, you can expect to receive significant cash payments every quarter for as long as you hold the stock (assuming it remains healthy). Better still, they'll tend to increase over time (again, assuming the company doesn't fall on hard times). Other firms with hefty current yields recently in the 5% neighborhood include Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), ConAgra (NYSE:CAG), Keyspan (NYSE:KSE), Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED), Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI), and Ford (NYSE:F). They're not slam-dunk investments, though -- many times a firm with a steep dividend is in some trouble.

[Our Income Investor newsletter (try if for free!) has recommended many solid, healthy companies that currently offer significant dividend yields. (At last count, about 25 recommendations sported yields above 4%.)]

Learn more
Join with us in our Foolanthropy campaign, as we invest in people -- lots and lots of people (and animals!) in need. Help us raise money for some very unique organizations. If you're not sure whether you want to participate, at least click in and read about some of the organizations. They'd love it if more people became familiar with them.

Selena Maranjian gives to Foolanthropy because she knows how rich she is compared to most people on Planet Earth. She holds stock in no companies mentioned in this article. For more about Selena, view her bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written: The Motley Fool Money Guide and The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens . The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.