Giving Day, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is fast approaching and with it the year-end charitable-giving season kicks off in earnest. In light of that, here is the response to one of the most common refrains we hear as we work with clients to structure their giving programs: “How can I ensure that my gifts truly make an impact?”
FIRST, SELECT RECIPIENTS CAREFULLY.
Choose charitable organizations and causes with proven, effective programs and that carefully monitor overhead costs. Several organizations can help on this front, including GuideStar, which posts information on millions of public charities online.
SECOND, GIFT IN WAYS THAT MAGNIFY THE IMPACT.
A commitment to sustained, annual giving may be more effective than a smattering of discrete, one-time gifts. That’s because it gives nonprofits a break from having to fundraise each year. Ongoing commitments also instill organizations with the confidence to staff up and design multiyear programs.
Likewise, a matching grant that inspires other donors to contribute to a particular charity or cause may be more impactful than a direct gift of a comparable amount or more. If you don’t have the wherewithal to underwrite a matching-fund campaign, back a matching-fund appeal that helps an organization you cherish. Remember to apply for a matching contribution from your employer, if available.
THIRD, CONSIDER SETTING UP A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE FOUNDATION, TRUST, OR DONOR-ADVISED FUND (DAF).
A giving horizon that spans decades or more can be transformational because it dedicates resources for the long haul, while offering donors a platform for taking a stand on their issues.
However, for some causes, a foundation, trust, or DAF that spends down its wealth over 10 or 20 years is better positioned than a longer-term vehicle, because every dollar donated today can yield social and economic benefits that compound over time.