Slogging through mud and plunging into ice cold water. Those are things I’ve done for charity. I support others who also love a challenge. I’m the person my family and friends know to hit up when they are climbing dozens of stairs for the Leukemia Foundation or walking 60 miles for breast cancer. I give because I want to make a difference in people’s lives and frankly, I like the warm feeling it gives me. I recently completed the designation as Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® because I want to help others make an impact and feel the joy of giving as well.
What I discovered is that I’m a checkbook giver - I pull out my check book when asked. Many of us are checkbook givers and also give out of tradition or a sense of duty. I learned that giving can be so much more. Our giving can have a greater impact on what we care about most.
How can you become more strategic and impactful in your giving? Below are some questions you might consider as you work towards more meaningful contributions.
- Is there an element of luck, grace or blessing in your success?
- What would you like to change or preserve in the world?
- If you were reading the newspaper, what issues really get you going?
- What has influenced your thinking over the years?
- What kind of person do you want to be?
- What is your vision of a better world?
Next, narrow your idea down and get specific. Do you want to give nationally or locally? To a general issue or for something specific? Can you dovetail your volunteer work for the same cause? Are you planning to give at death or enjoy the fruits of your giving during life?
Here is an example of how this might play out: Mary’s parents paid for a large portion of her college education. She attributes her success in part to her education and being able to pursue her line of work. It dismays Mary to see smart kids not go on to school because they can’t afford it. Mary decides she would like to direct her charitable giving to scholarships. She considers giving to her alma mater but decides instead to support students graduating from her local community high school. She also joins the board of the local foundation in order to help facilitate distributing 100 scholarships per year to the local students and also sponsors a scholarship of her own to kids studying in her field. Mary has been able to increase the impact of her giving in an area that means a lot to her and she also is able to see the impact while she is alive.
What matters most to you? What are your fondest memories or most frustrating issues? How would you like to have an impact? You might find that a little thought can steer your dollars and efforts to greater impact and more joy.
In future publications we’ll talk about how your Financial Advisor can help you pick the right tools so your giving is not only impactful but financially smart as well.