Your Donations Will Be More Impactful If You Have a Giving Strategy
Charitable gifts deserve the same thought and care as any other investment
What’s your process for deciding how to donate your money?
It’s okay if you don’t know how to answer. For plenty of people, charitable giving is mostly ad hoc or reactionary — something done after a natural disaster or around the holidays—and that’s certainly better than not giving at all. But every donation you make comes from your hard-earned money, which means that each one deserves the same level of planning and care that you’d give to your other investments.
And that’s exactly what a donation is: an investment in an issue that’s important to you. To maximize your return — that is, to make sure your money makes the greatest impact — you should have a plan in place for the causes you want to support and the individual organizations most deserving of your dollars, as well as how much and how often you’ll give. Follow these steps to build a philanthropic portfolio that you can feel great about.
Pick your issues
It’s easy to blindly gravitate toward issues everyone else is supporting, but to create a philanthropic portfolio that you find exciting and inspiring, it’s important to reflect on the causes that matter most to you. Try this exercise: Take a few minutes to write down all the causes that come to mind. Next, order them in some way — for example, assign a greater weight to issues that you find most currently pressing, or separate causes by reach (local, national, global). Revisit this list often to make sure each issue continues to resonate with you.
Find organizations that align with your interests
You might already have a few organizations in mind. To source more leads, use your network: Ask friends and family which organizations they donate to or if they have any recommendations. News articles related to the causes you’ve chosen will often highlight organizations doing good work. An old-fashioned Google search can also be helpful: When you search for an organization, the results will often highlight related groups on the right side of the results page.