Give joyfully and say no peacefully: Your charitable giving strategy

July 11, 2018
6 min read

Charitable Impact

Give Joyfully

Our Director of Philanthropic Advisory, Lauri Thompson, discusses the value of setting up a personalized giving strategy.

The number of Canadians who give and volunteer is continuing to decline. According to StatsCan, over the last 15 years, not only have less people been giving, but they have also been giving less.

With 71% of Canadians feeling a personal responsibility to make the world a better place, why is it that so many of us are shying away from charitable giving?  

In my considered view, a large majority of donor apprehension can be attributed to the  fragmentation and exhaustion of the fundraising system. For donors without a plan to guide their decision making, the seemingly straightforward and gratifying act of philanthropy can present itself as complex and daunting.

At present, there are more than 85,000 charities in Canada. This in itself presents a myriad of challenges for the affluent and/or generous donor. Visualize, for a moment, being asked for financial support by just 1% of these charities. Constant requests – via email, phone, mail or otherwise – has the potential to evoke a range of adverse reactions, from apprehension to frustration. It is not difficult to comprehend how an overwhelming process could result in a loss of charitable alignment, and indeed, giving in general.

With the absence of a philanthropic plan, donors risk wasting both time and money on multiple instances of reactionary giving, as opposed to creating genuine, long-term change through considered and purposeful donations.

I encourage our clients to find joy in charitable giving; removing the non-critical, barrier-like elements of wealth planning, and adding those that encourage philanthropy. A personalized strategy allows donors to say yes joyfully, and no peacefully as the pressures of fundraising asks are alleviated.  

The basic elements of a sustainable giving strategy reflect your values, giving priorities and your personality.  

The following offers an example of the types of questions I discuss alongside our clients with a focus on their wishes.  I strongly believe that a donor-centered strategy benefits entire communities, including high quality charities and their beneficiaries.

Generous people are often slow to articulate their personal  giving priorities because they have never been asked about them in this competitive fundraising world.  Here is a starting point for thinking through some of your priorities.

Your Giving Values and Priorities

Satisfaction and contentment is a result of charitable giving aligning with personal values.

  1. Is how you will be remembered—your legacy—important to you?
  2. Has a happy or tough memory in your life informed your giving priorities?
  3. When you hear of local or world events, or witness an injustice, what moves you most?
  4. Is there anything that you would like to preserve or change during your lifetime?
  5. Think about the best charitable giving experience you’ve ever had. What made it so meaningful?

The discussion of both positive and negative charitable experiences help to guide a successful, long-term giving strategy. While the positive insights allow me to help donors make the right choices when it comes to choosing where to commit their wealth, understanding their regretful donations is a valuable confidence building exercise. Potential regrets include a lost opportunity cost from a lack of information, and a lost impact cost due to money not being spent in the way it was intended. The discussion of these experiences allows me to filter and suggest charities, whilst building individual giving plans, so that our clients feel encouraged to keep giving.

Discussing donor aspirations forms strong connections and allows my team and I to offer informed and practical giving advice.

Your Giving Personality

The creation of a custom charitable plan that accounts for your personality is the most sustainable way to give well over the long term.

  1. Do you want to build relationships with the charities you give to?
  2. Do you have a particular time of year in which you prefer to give?
  3. How do you like to be contacted and how often?
  4. What do you find difficult about giving?
  5. Do you enjoy events or prefer to give from a distance?

Your defined set of Charities

Fulfilling values and creating measurable impact are equally important. The causes we support and the ways we want to change the world are tied to our core beliefs as individuals.

  1. Do you like “blue chip” charities or more grassroots work?
  2. Do you prefer local or international work?
  3. Do you want the charities you support to report back on their results are you happy to leave them to do their work without much interaction?
  4. How do you define impact?

While a successful plan is completely flexible, defining its beginnings plays an important role in setting a precedent for impactful and enjoyable giving.

Once you have defined your priorities, you can search on our platform. This allows you to see where charities get their money, and how it is spent. Alternatively, if you have expressed a broad interest in outdoor activities, for instance, you might enjoy supporting a range of charities in support of preserving natural landscapes. 

In most cases, generous people are concerned with fulfilling their values and also with making a measurable impact. Understanding the interplay between these two motivations allows me to guide donors into making continued, rewarding and effectual donations.

Get your giving strategy on paper. Defining a budget, refining a simple plan and experimenting with charitable giving allows you to enjoy and refine your philanthropy as a legitimate element of good wealth planning. A proactive and considered strategy will allow for your giving to thrive today, and in the future.

Lauri Thompson, Director of Philanthropic Advisory

Charitable Impact Strategies is a premier, full-service offering provided by Charitable Impact, a donor-advised fund. With a focus on the donor, we make it simple and meaningful for our clients to act on their generosity and give to the causes they care about.  Contact us at [email protected].