The wellness movement tells us that everything is about ‘intention.’ There’s intentional communication. Intentional parenting. Intentional eating, which apparently makes food taste better.
How about intentional giving? Most Canadians will only give to charity when asked. But what if instead of giving reactively—for example, when we’re asked to by the cashier at the supermarket or when approached by charity canvassers on the street—we gave intentionally to the things that matter most to us as individuals? Wouldn’t that make giving feel even better?
I think so. In fact, I know so. In my work, I see it every day.
Increasingly, giving is happening through what are called donor-advised funds, which opens the door to more intentional giving. To explain why this donor tool is a great option for many, I give you a scenario. And because I’m a child that grew up in the 1980s, I’m going to present it in the style of Choose Your Own Adventure.
It’s December 28th. You’ve had a pretty good year, financially speaking, and you know the clock is ticking if you want to make any charitable donations to offset your tax owing. You think you should increase your charitable giving, but you haven’t managed to make it happen.
You do care about things. You know, the issues. You just haven’t aligned those issues with organizations you trust. Yet. But the intention is there.
So as the year winds down, what do you do?
Option 1: You forget the whole charity thing and throw the money at your holiday bills instead. The planet is apparently set to implode by 2030, anyway, and you don’t think your actions will make a difference.
Most Canadians, at this point, will still want to make a change, to do good. It’s human nature. In fact, 71 per cent of Canadians say they feel a personal responsibility to make the world a better place. So if you’re in this group, there are two more options for this adventure.
Option 2: You do some Googling around the issues you care about (“Canadian charity environmental sustainability tax receipt”), feel overwhelmed by your search results, find a decent-looking option, and make one sizeable donation. Done and dusted. Now you can get back to your holiday guests.
You shut your laptop feeling really good about yourself. Or pretty good? The charity looked reputable. At least you hope they are. But as doubt creeps in, the adventure ends with you wishing you had more time to decide where to send your money.
Or Option 3: You make a donation now based on the amount you’re comfortable giving away before year-end. Which charities will benefit from your donated dollars? That decision can wait. You get back to your guests in the other room—it’s almost dinnertime, after all.
Later, when time allows, you can think about the causes you care about and where to send your gift. That’s where a donor-advised fund comes in: donate now and get your tax receipt, and then send gifts to charities when you’re ready. What previously felt like a rushed or complicated decision has been split into two smaller, more manageable chunks. Now you have the time and space to make sure you’re giving to an organization that aligns with your personal values and deserves it.
Your own giving adventure continues, or perhaps it has just begun. When we give thoughtfully the confidence we have in our decisions increases and the experience feels a lot more meaningful.
Like many Canadians are increasingly choosing, I choose option three. I like how donor-advised funds encourage donors to take more accountability for their giving and how they enable us to become more effective donors with time and practice. And, with newer funds, like CHIMP, you can deposit as little as $5, and start working on your intentional giving strategy.
The act of giving changes from a holiday nightmare to an empowering experience—now, you want to give more. A single adventure becomes a lifelong journey to make a difference in the world. What could possibly be wrong about that? Especially if the alternative is not giving at all.
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