If you have a desire to be more strategic with your charity, there are six steps you can take. Being strategic about our giving helps us to ensure that we are being prudent with the resources and blessings that God has provided us.
1) Reflect on your own individual experiences and values
God has a wonderfully and uniquely defined plan for each of us. As a result, we have different influences and influencers that define our values and the desires in our hearts. What are the causes you have supported in your life today and are there any causes you care about which you want to support? By reviewing where you have shared your treasures you will see a pattern of the causes which God has placed on your heart.
2) Consider the geography of your impact
Are you interested in helping your neighbor or a stranger in a foreign land? You might want to invest in your local community, but you might also feel called to serve a distant community which may not have the resources your own community has.
3) Explore relationships
Collective charity can be rewarding and help you leverage resources. Engaging your family in giving helps you to pass on your values and helps family members bond. You may also have a circle of friends that you wish to engage with in supporting a cause or organization. Additionally, there are formal giving circles which bring together people with similarities – maybe gender such as a women’s giving circle, age, or ethnicity. Research the opportunities for you to join one of these giving circles whose interests are like your own.
4) Determine your capacity and your allocation
Gifts of any size can be impactful, and it is important for you to determine your capacity to give. Consider what resources you need to take care of yourself, and your family and the remaining resources can be for your charity. Once you have determined what you can give you want to consider how you will allocate your gifts. Are you giving to more than one cause, locally, nationally, or globally or to different organizations? Determine your priorities and allocate your giving accordingly. Reassess where you are each year. Collaborating with professional advisors such as a financial planner or tax accountant can help you maximize your giving as well as grow your giving over time.
5) Research giving vehicles
There are many ways to give and when we can give non-cash assets, we have the opportunity for more tax advantages and less impact on our household cash flow. Engage with an advisor to learn more about charitable giving vehicles and which one may help you maximize your giving. Philanthropic, wealth, financial or legal advisors can provide you with information. The Catholic Foundation of Central Florida has Chartered Advisors in Philanthropy as well as a Planned Giving Advisory Council whose members can provide information on charitable giving vehicles.
6) Be prudent
Vet the organizations you are supporting to ensure the impact of your giving. Research their website or other nonprofit watchdog websites such as Guidestar.org. Review their leadership, program effectiveness and financials. You may also want to engage with leadership of the organizations you are supporting to learn more about their current and future needs.