The focus of this article is on the methodology of giving . Much of what has been written on this topic is from the perspective of the non-profit organization or as a psychological analysis of why people give. What I am interested in sharing is the HOW behind effective philanthropy.
What are your reasons for making a charitable donation?
Is it your affinity towards the organization?
Perhaps it is the person who is asking you for the donation?
Did you volunteer your time with them at some point?
Did you seek their services and this is a way of "paying back"?
In thinking about why you give to the agencies that you give to, have you considered the ripple effect of that donation? How many people were helped? How many mouths were fed? But beyond that, as a result of feeding those people how many were then able to pay attention in school and get a scholarship to university thereby breaking the cycle of poverty?
Did you even know that you could measure this type of impact?
The first step in philanthropic giving is to think about the impact you would like to have. The impact can be in your household (engaging your family in philanthropy), in your community or even globally. That may seem daunting at first, so let's break it down.
Who lives in your home?
What are your family connections? How have you defined family?
Think about everyone in your home (including your pet!) - Does your current giving reflect them?
Is your family in the same city as you? Is where you reside, the same place as where you call home? Does your current giving reflect this geographical distinction?
There are probably many other questions around family and how you give. By using the above questions as a stepping stone, you will begin to see how your family impacts the way you conduct your philanthropy.
What does your community look like?
Is it religiously or ethnically based?
How do political parties play into your charitable giving? Yes, even a donation to your local MLA is part of your philanthropic investment. If you think about it, the ripple effect of that donation could have a major impact on others in your community.
Have you considered how some of your donations might be in conflict with each other?
In ranking your priorities, does community play a larger role in your philanthropic activities than your family philanthropy? Is this intentional?
Has direct interaction with a community agency influenced your philanthropic priorities? For example, your child received care from the children's hospital so you make an annual donation to the foundation.
These questions are designed to get you thinking about how you are connected to community.
Now let's look at how your philanthropic investments are situated globally.
In what way do you actively participate with the global community?
What are your consumer choices? Do you buy items manufactured overseas? Do you make conscious choices to buy locally sourced items?
Do you travel? How do you travel?
Do you engage in cultural exchanges (from eating out to attending special events)?
Are you conscious about the impact that your decisions are having on communities beyond your immediate circle?
How you engage the world in another value-set that should be considered as part of your philanthropic plan.
Yes, philanthropic plan. Just as you create a plan for your finances, you should plan for your charitable giving. By doing so you will ensure that you are achieving the impact that you want to have. More importantly, a philanthropic plan provides you with the tools so that you are able to hold your recipient agencies accountable for the investment.