Giving Back: Part of Your Financial & Life Plan

144 million Americans donated money to charity in 2016, while 106 million volunteered their time, according to a study by the Charities Aid Foundation.

For many people living in the United States, supporting charities and local organizations is second nature. We support and attend fundraisers, we donate to schools and churches, we volunteer at the local hospital or nursing home, we give away our excess clothes and toys. Overall, Americans have created a culture that is passionate about charitable giving.


Perhaps we choose to be philanthropic because we have had a sense of duty instilled in us to give back to society, or because we are passionate about supporting causes close to our hearts, or even because our sense of faith motivates us to be charitable. Although the reasons vary, supporting charitable causes can be a rewarding and fulfilling part of your life. It is one way to maintain a money/life balance while allowing you to utilize your resources to help those less fortunate.

By establishing charitable giving as part of your financial plan, you are able to plan for when and how your money would be best allocated. Having clearly defined directives when implementing a plan of action allows you to keep track of your donations to causes that are meaningful to you and gives you confidence to invest your assets where you can have the greatest impact.

Planning Your Philanthropy Helps Charities Too 

Nonprofit organizations and charities rely on donations to operate. To maintain their budget, many organizations have to expend considerable time and resources on marketing and fundraising efforts. However, the bulk of donations actually come from regular contributors who support a charity’s cause and share its vision.

If organizations were able to rely more on regular contributions, it might lessen the need for significant marketing expenditures. Loyal commitments from donors allow nonprofits and charities to align their budgets more closely with their mission statements.

But, how do you know if you’ve chosen a responsible charity that truly supports your cause? There are many options to research charities you’re interested in, the most well-known of which are Charity Navigator and CharityWatch.

Charity Navigator is an independent nonprofit that evaluates charity organizations and provides donors with the resources to choose responsible and accountable recipients. With this site, you’re able to investigate a charity’s financial transparency, accountability, and performance.

CharityWatch is an independent charity watchdog group that analyzes nonprofits’ financial reports to disclose the organizations’ spending trends and budget expenditures. An organization is rated highly efficient if their administrative, marketing, and all other overhead costs fall below 25% of their total budget.

donate-mason-jarThe Impact of Strategic Giving

By developing a strategic plan for giving, you’re not only helping yourself, but you’re also helping the charities you support. Nonprofit leaders who know their revenue streams are steady and strong can refocus their efforts to either expand their organizations (and thus help more people) or improve their level of service. Overall, identifying a stable donation plan allows nonprofits to focus more on the principles identified in their mission statements.

How many of us are guilty of responding to a charitable request only when a solicitation comes in front of us? Those solicitations and marketing campaigns require time and money. By responding only when a request is put in front of us, we reinforce the need for charities to continue spending money on fundraising in hopes of generating more money for the organization. Dedicated giving plans by a network of donors lessens that need.

Planning your giving also allows you to get the most impact out of your donations. You can choose to allocate percentages of your donation budget to causes you are passionate about, be it your church, a shelter, or educational organization.

If you want to test out a charity, it could be beneficial to make a small initial donation. Then, you can wait to see how the charity uses the donation and choose whether you want to make any additional donations in the future. If you want to contribute to a specific project, or donate to a charity you’re already involved with, you can choose whether a large, one-time donation or a series of gifts makes more sense for your purpose.

We’ve put together questions to help bring focus and clarity to your giving strategy:

  • What do you want to accomplish with your philanthropy?
  • What charitable causes are you passionate about or connected to?
  • What motivates your giving?
  • How do you decide which charities to support?
  • Have your previous charitable gifts been focused in a particular area?
  • How did you connect with your chosen charities?
  • Which past donations have given you the most satisfaction?

Developing a plan for your giving provides more assurance that your donations are going towards where you think they will make a significant impact. By getting us involved in your planning, we can help you become more strategic with your charitable giving.

shutterstock_67084261-414231-editedAlternative Ways to Give

When crafting your giving plan, your core values should play an important role. Determining how, what, and to whom you want to give involves some personal reflection so that you can get the most benefits from your giving.

Remember, helping people doesn’t necessarily have to mean giving money. Volunteering your time, offering your expertise, or sharing your wisdom are all ways that you can make a difference for organizations. And when we are volunteering, we tend to feel good about our efforts and feel more invested in our community.

When we share our time and talents with others, we enhance our problem-solving abilities, create stronger bonds with others, feel pride in our community, improve someone else’s circumstances, and tend to feel happier. Helping others in need has never been easier.

Timing Does Matter

Many of us end up waiting until the end of the year to make charitable donations so that we have a clear picture of our finances for the year. However, the timing of your gifts shouldn’t be merely a December 31st decision. Timing is just as important as how much and to whom you give.

Some questions to consider include: How often do you want to give? Do you want to include a gift as part of your estate? How do I want to give money: straight cash, a security, special asset, through a qualified charitable distribution? We know that individual circumstances vary, so we can help analyze your specific circumstances and review your goals with you.

How Can Brogan Financial Help You Achieve Your Goals?

As financial experts, we want to partner with you to turn your charitable notions into a practical, workable plan. We can help you:

  • Outline your family’s charitable goals
  • Explore how planned philanthropy can fit into your financial plan
  • Develop a system for giving that incorporates your goals
  • Plan for your personal and family legacy

By working with us, we will provide you with valuable insight into how to give responsibly and achieve your charitable goals. We are happy to help you identify reputable, deserving organizations that fit your goals by equipping you with information to analyze and research nonprofit causes.