5 Steps to Make Year-End Giving More Joyful - Vario Philanthropy
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5 Steps to Make Year-End Giving More Joyful

The holidays are upon us. Our mailboxes are full of updates from friends and loved ones… as well as year-end requests from charities. If you’re like many, you probably put the appeal letters to the side, intending to give thoughtful consideration to each request. But December takes over, the tyranny of the urgent rules again, and you end up making a slew of reactive gifts, writing a big check to your church, or parking it all in a donor advised fund. (Did you know that 30% of charitable giving happens in December? And 10% comes through in the last 48 hours of the year?!) Though happy to give to good causes, you leave the experience a little unfulfilled.

Sound familiar? Is this bad? Simply, no. But what if it could be better?

What if it could be different this year? What if you could experience more joy from your giving because you have greater intention, clarity, and focus? What if this could serve as a springboard for more fulfilling giving throughout the following year?

Here are 5 simple questions that can lead to giving that’s more impactful and fulfilling – both during the holidays and beyond.

1. How much can you give?

Think about how much you want to give this holiday season (and your giving goal for next year, too!). Talk with your spouse/partner, and then your tax or wealth advisor. You may want to include donating stocks/bonds, property, or other appreciated assets to a charity. And don’t forget to see if your employer offers a match!

If you have kids or grandkids and you want to encourage their own generosity, consider setting aside funds to match what they give to charity.

Beyond the dollars, how can you also give the gift of your time? Set aside time to volunteer – alone, or with family and friends. Read up on simple ideas for giving back around the holidays.

Once you have your number, pause and think for just a moment – what if you knew those dollars could make a difference? What if, like a charitable ROI, you could invest in the change that mattered most to you? It’s possible – it just takes some thought and commitment. Read on.

2. What do you most profoundly care about changing?

Stop right now and think about what you’re most passionate about. Answer these questions…

  • What breaks your heart?
  • What do you wish were different in your community/world?
  • What injustices most anger you or causes fill you with hope?
  • What opportunities or experiences have shaped you, that you’d like to make accessible to others?
  • What root causes or societal issues do you find yourself constantly wishing you could address?
  • What values and traditions do you hope to pass on to future generations?

Using your answers to these questions, write down 2–3 issues you want to impact with your time, talent, and wealth. Consider devoting a date night with your spouse or a family dinner to answering these questions together and identifying the common ground.

Having an idea of what you most want to change can shift your giving approach to a greater degree of proactivity and help you overcome the reactive hustle. Having a more meaningful “yes” makes the “nos” more meaningful too.

3. What best aligns with your vision for change?

When the holiday request letters come in, prioritize those organizations that best align with your passions, interests and desired legacy.

Next, reflect back on the organizations you’ve been exposed to over the last year. Consider adding a few organizations to the mix who didn’t manage to send you a mailing. Ask a few people you think are “in the charitable know” to recommend some of their favorites. (Or – feel free to call us! We try to keep a pulse on some of the neatest work happening across different areas and are always happy to share ideas).

4. What do you need to know to give confidently?

Do some research on the groups that interest you, especially if they’re unfamiliar to you. Visit their website. Look for how they define success and how they share about the impact of their work. Listen for leadership, vision, and change (not just good ideas). If you have time, consider going on a site visit to learn more or call to ask what upcoming projects they’re looking to fund. Sometimes focusing your giving to fewer organizations, or investing in a larger specific project can make a more tangible impact.

If you’re a numbers person or looking for an outside view, visit GuideStar.org or CharityNavigator.org to get a sense of their financial health.

5. What should you celebrate?

Once your gifts have been made, celebrate! Know that your gifts will make a difference to the people, communities, and causes you care most deeply about. Over dinner with your spouse/partner, family, or friends, reflect on your favorite gift and why. What about that charity stands out to you? Why did you want to support them? What is your hope/prayer for that charity and those they serve?

Explore how you could engage more deeply with that organization by volunteering or giving more in the year ahead. Remember – the need doesn’t stop when the holidays are over. Continue to give throughout the year. Learn as you go and adjust your giving strategy as you learn.

When we give well, it changes us as it changes the causes that matter to us. We find that we’ve become better people as we’ve made the world a better place.