Are you making the impact you desire with your charitable giving?
Charitable gifts come in all shapes and sizes, but regardless of size you want to be able to make an impact with your charitable giving. Knowing that your gift has made a difference brings added joy to your giving experience. There are ways to determine how our gifts make an impact. Nonprofits tell the stories of how they serve and the difference they make in people’s lives in our communities. Through our giving we help tell these stories, the qualitative impact we make, and the quantitative ways to measure our giving as it benefits the community.
One of the simplest forms of measurement is a nonprofit’s ‘output,’ how many they serve. Digging deeper we discover sustainability and outcome. Sustainability matters: if we believe there is good being accomplished by a nonprofit, we want to ensure that good can continue. Sustainability measures the prudent management of a nonprofit, ensuring its longevity.
Still, there are life cycles for nonprofits. Newer nonprofits are higher risk, often requiring investment in administration and capital to fund their programs. Most nonprofits provide information on their website, but Guidestar.org is also a great place to learn about nonprofits. Learn when an organization was incorporated and review financials to determine where your giving can make the most impact. In more mature nonprofits, look for their growth pattern. Are they achieving sustainability through diverse revenue sources, reserves, and assets? As an organization becomes more sustainable you want to see innovation and their program reach expanding. Supporting administration and capital along with programs can be rewarding too, as you help the organization ensure their future and sustain the good that they provide.
Assessing our own giving patterns and values can help us determine where we want to invest more. The Catholic Foundation of Central Florida offers Catholic-compliant areas of giving including healthcare, affordable housing, social justice, education, environment, faith formation, vocations and more. Once you determine where you want to invest, research the organizations leading in these areas to better understand their business models. Then you can learn if the organizations you currently support use these same models and you may find other local organizations to support along the way.
As your giving increases, it’s typical for donors to want to learn more. Nonprofits should welcome your questions, invite you on a tour, give you opportunities to observe programs and engage with the staff and board. You might consider spending time with the beneficiaries of these programs as they can tell the real story of the impact they make. As Catholics, we are called to be good stewards of our resources. In our charitable giving, we must ensure that we are being prudent and making impactful gifts. We are also called to pray that we are doing His will and that all we do will be multiplied for His glory.
At The Catholic Foundation of Central Florida, we have several team members certified as Chartered Advisors in Philanthropy. Our team is committed to helping donors engage with nonprofits, ensure their gift intentions are followed and maximize the impact of their giving. Our philanthropic advisory services are free to Catholic donors. We are knowledgeable about Catholic and Catholic-compliant nonprofits throughout Central Florida and can support your desire to be more engaged with the organizations of your choice. Our services focus on supporting the donor with their charitable giving decisions. For more information on philanthropic advisory services contact Madelyn Weed, CFRE, CAP at email@example.com or 407-246-7188.
Decision Factors for Your Charitable Giving
Being strategic about our giving helps us to ensure that we are being prudent with the blessings that God has provided us. If you want to be more strategic with your charitable giving here are six steps you can take:
Reflect on Your Own Personal Experiences and Values
God has a plan for each of us that is wonderfully and uniquely defined. We have different influences and influencers that shape our values and the desire in our hearts. What causes have you supported in your life? Are there other causes you care about which you want to support? By reviewing where you have shared your treasures, you likely will see a pattern of the causes which God has placed on your heart.
Consider the Geography of Your Impact
Are you interested in helping your neighbor or a stranger in a foreign land? While you might want to support your local community, you may also feel that you are called to serve a distant community where the resources are few and the need may be even greater.
Collective charity is a rewarding way to leverage resources and create greater impact. Engaging your family helps you pass on your values and helps family members bond. You may have a circle of friends that you wish to engage in supporting a cause or organization. There are also formal giving circles which bring together similar people, like a women’s giving circle, men’s club or those of a particular age or ethnic group. Research the opportunities to join one of these giving circles whose interests are similar to yours.
Determine Your Capacity and Your Allocation
While gifts of any size can be impactful, it is important for you to determine your capacity to give. Consider what resources you need to care for yourself and your family, and the remaining resources can be for your charity. Once you have determined what you can give, consider how to allocate those 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, then reassess where you are each year. Working with advisors such as financial planner or tax accountant can help you maximize and grow your giving over time.
Research Giving Vehicles
There are many ways to give. When we give non-cash assets, we can realize more tax advantages with less impact to your household cash flow. Engage with an advisor to learn about charitable giving vehicles and which one will help you maximize your giving. Philanthropic, wealth, financial or legal advisors can provide you 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.
Vet the organizations you support to ensure the impact of your giving. Research their website or other nonprofit watchdog websites such as Guidestar.org. Review their financials, leadership, and program effectiveness. You can also engage with leadership of the organizations you support to learn more about their current and future needs.
Improve Your Giving
Humanity has natural flaws especially when it comes to charitable giving. While we have the desire to give, elements of our humanity create obstacles for us. We worry if we’ll have enough and may limit our giving to ensure we provide for ourselves. Humans are innately self-focused, so we may miss out on opportunities to help others. We are often not the best stewards of our time and create schedules to keep ourselves in control instead of God. Here are three things we can focus on to help us improve our giving.
Trust in God
When we fully trust in God, we are less concerned about providing for ourselves. Scripture tells us that God will provide for us and He will prosper us – Jeremiah 29: 11. We could never provide for ourselves better than God; focusing on this eases our worry, allowing our generosity to flourish.
The commandments tell us God’s highest priorities for our lives – to love God and to love our neighbors. When we focus on loving God and loving others, we become selfless. When we are selfless, we are more generous.
Honor God’s Timing
In our fast-paced lives, we often don’t slow down to prayerfully consider how we can strategically give. When we don’t make time for God’s will, we miss opportunities to hear Him direct us, care for our neighbors, or listen to our loved ones. When something expected doesn’t occur on our schedule, we may pull back, conserve, even delay moving forward with our stewardship. Accepting God’s timing and slowing down from the past-faced secular world can help us continue to share the blessings we receive from God.