As you’ve read in the last three “Impact Others” blog, connecting our families and communities through charitable giving is how we start to change our world. There are seven simple rules to live by when you want to have a maximized effect with your giving, whether it’s time or money.
1. Write a mission statement: This statement should be very personal; it’s an extension of your life philosophy and your vision for how you want to make a difference and how you want to impact others. When you know these things, you can establish meaningful goals that will drive and inspire you to give and do great things for others. When looking back on yearly giving, you’d be surprised at how many of my clients show patterns of impulse giving. Writing a mission statement can help you be more impactful in the areas you choose.
2. Always get advice: By asking for advice from your financial advisor, CPA, and attorney, you’ll have more clarity about your individual giving strategy and be in a better position to determine if donor advised funds, private foundations, charitable gift annuities or trusts are appropriate. Smart planning incorporates the impact your giving will have on your financial situation.
3. Get specific about your available resources: Financial assets aren’t the only way to be charitable. Using your skills and giving your time can be just as valuable. SevenWealth always suggests making three categories to better identify each of these available assets. (Time, Skills, Money) As I can help you identify, it is generally more tax-effective to donate appreciated investments or assets you’ve had for more than a year than it is to donate cash.
4. Get to know: Always get to know the charity and organizations you want to give financially to, and ask if they have options for you to volunteer your time. Being a financial giver is always reinforced when you want to volunteer your time and be part of making an impact with your time and skills. Questions to ask in looking into an organization would be:
Of the donations received, what percentage is allocated to the targeted beneficiary and what percentage is allocated to the charitable organization’s operating expenses?
When does the fiscal year end? Important for understanding fluctuations in revenue and budgeting issues.
What information do you provide in your financial documents and how often are they updated?
Are there current programs facing immediate shortfalls or long term shortfalls?
Are there any grants coming up for renewal, and if not renewed, are they at risk of losing most of their financial backing?
Questions like these can help you determine where your money can be most impactful.
5. Does the organization have an overall mission statement that aligns with your mission statement for giving? When you give, you should feel really good about it. We are more apt to give when a charitable organization’s mission statement is aligned with a cause that we are passionate about and it aligns with our values.
6. Measure and evaluate the impact of your giving. How will your giving make a difference and how will you measure success? What is the bottom line impact of your donation? Who or what is receiving the benefit and are there success stories to prove that the charitable organization is actually delivering on its intended mission statement? Is this the most effective organization for delivering the kind of impact you want to have?
7. Can you give more? Are you one of the majority of Americans who give an average of 1% of their income to charitable organizations? Staying connected to your favorite charities can encourage you to give more, but thoughtfully strategizing with your financial planner can help move your giving to new heights.
Plan, Invest, Live™