I love to share charitable giving tips at this time of year because so many of my clients are mission-driven women who make charitable giving an integral part of their financial planning. They help those in need, participate in something larger than themselves, and work to make the world a better place – one that’s more in line with their values and ideals. In fact, my clients inspire me every day with reminders that women are controlling resources that are changing the world!
If you’d like to maximize the potential of your charitable giving, both for yourself and for those you wish to serve, read the following guide. My hope is that it will help you build a charitable giving plan that is as strategic as it is generous.
#1. Incorporate Your Philanthropic Goals into Your Budget
When we’re in the philanthropic spirit and thinking of a cause that truly pulls at our heartstrings, it can be tempting to want to give away as much as possible. It’s like impulse buying in reverse! However, it’s important that our giving doesn’t jeopardize our financial security, regardless of how worthy the cause may be. Charitable contributions are irrevocable gifts; once you’ve given your money away, you’re not getting it back. That’s why one of my favorite charitable giving tips is to include philanthropy as a line in your budget. This allows you to prioritize your generosity, but also to put boundaries on it that will protect you from giving more than your finances truly allow.
#2. Determine Your Values and Intrinsic Motivations for Giving Back
There are so many good causes and valuable organizations seeking charitable funding, and it can be very difficult to say ‘no’ to any of them. However, to truly make the impact you desire, it’s important to choose just a few to prioritize. Taking the time to develop a list of values you want to support with your charitable giving, and an overall mission that you’re aiming to achieve with your efforts gives you the ability to better navigate the world of philanthropy. It also gives you permission to acknowledge that, while all charitable work is important, it’s okay to stay true to your own passions and values – and to say ‘no’ when needed. Many women feel guilty for not spreading their resources far and wide but remember that there is value – both literally and intrinsically – in offering deeper and more substantial assistance to the causes that align with your mission.
Now, narrowing your values and defining your mission may still leave you with an overwhelming number of options. That’s why another of my favorite charitable giving tips is to take the time to research organizations before you select where to offer support. Here are a few things to look for to help you narrow your options:
- How much money does this organization spend on programs versus administrative expenses?
- How long has the organization been in existence? Is it new or long-standing?
- What reputation does the organization have within its community?
- How much do you trust the leadership of the organization and its vision for the future? Is it in line with your personal goals and motivations?
To get started on conducting your research, you can use online resources like Candid, Charity Navigator, and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, as well as charitable organization websites and annual reports.
#3. Define Your ‘Giving Personality’
If you’re looking to develop a giving plan that’s more strategic and works with your overall financial planning, you’ll want to determine what I call your “giving personality”. Your giving personality is structured within six different criteria to provide a framework that will help guide your giving. The six criteria are as follows: geography, purpose, recognition, involvement, impact, and family engagement.
As you work through these criteria, think of them as being on a spectrum and ask yourself these questions:
- Geography. When you consider geography, think about a spectrum where one side is local organizations and the other is international, with national organizations somewhere in the middle. You’ll want to think about where most of your charitable gifts go; do you want them to stay local or is geography irrelevant to you so long as the organization is doing good work?
- Purpose. What is the purpose behind your giving? Think of this spectrum with annual operating support on one end and investment/long-term support on the other. Do you typically direct funds into specific programs or investments, or do you tend to give free of any larger purpose and trust the organization to fund its greatest needs?
- Recognition. How much recognition do you hope for when you make a donation? On a scale from anonymous to champion, where do you hope to fall?
- Involvement. Consider this scale with baseline support on one end and time-intensive support on the other. Ask yourself how important it is for you to be proactively involved in the organizations you’re giving to. Do you wish to attend events and see the first-hand impact? Or do you prefer to remain hands-off and simply continue sending donations?
- Impact. From baseline support to identifiable impact to transformational impact, ask yourself the size of the impact you’re hoping to make with your gifts. Perhaps you’re interested in giving to a less established organization that comes with a higher risk in the hopes of making a more significant impact as a champion there. Or you might prefer giving to a large and established organization with many donors funding existing programs.
- Family engagement. How important is it for you to engage other family members in your philanthropic work? Do you talk about charitable giving with your loved ones, or make donation decisions as a family? If not, would you like to start?
All types of giving personalities are worthy and there are no right or wrong answers to the above questions. They’re simply meant to help you clearly identify what charitable giving means to you so that your future gifts can help you achieve your personal philanthropic goals.
#4. Include Loved Ones in Your Process
Money impacts every other aspect of life, and I remain a staunch advocate for talking to your family and friends about your finances. Family philanthropy discussions can be a valuable tool to pass on the money values you hold dear. Though philanthropy, like any money topic, can feel very personal, taking the time to share your passions can create wonderful opportunities for connection and collective impact.
Concluding Thoughts on Women and Philanthropy
Women control more than $10 trillion in household financial assets – and that figure is steadily growing. What’s more, they are using their resources to support forces for good in the world. I am gratified every day to work with clients who use the above charitable giving tips, and other strategies, to make a difference while supporting their own financial wellness, too.
If you’d like to discuss how to give with more intention and in a way that dovetails with a savvy financial strategy, let’s talk! At my firm, Flourish Wealth Management, we proactively seek opportunities to fully align our client’s financial plans with their personal values. If you’d like to have a conversation about how to build a strategic giving plan that makes the most of your generosity and works with your larger financial and estate plans, please reach out today. I look forward to hearing from you!