As 2016 came to a close there was an avalanche of well crafted requests to give to nonprofits. These came in the US mail and via email. They were on TV, radio, Facebook, Twitter… everywhere! So many were compelling. They combined emotion with facts. They communicated impact. They spoke to us personally. They let us know that our gift – no matter what size – would make a difference.
As fundraising consultants we were impressed. As human beings we knew that our family had only so much we could give. And, we suspect that you – our readers – are not that different. We all want to make a difference, especially in those areas that are important to us on a personal level. And we want to connect to our community, to pool our resources and help transform our neighborhoods and the future for our youth and elders. But there is only so much each can give.
It can be easy to get caught up in giving because of a pull on your heart-strings, or because your friends or coworkers are giving to a specific nonprofit. Here’s our recommendation: define your giving priorities.
Here are three ways to define your giving and three benefits to doing so.
Three ways to define your giving.
Examine your values as an individual and as a family. Take time to reflect on your values, write them down, and discuss as a family. Your values should drive your giving. For example, if education is a value you can further refine this to early education, high school mentoring, scholarships, college support, or another aspect of education that is important to you.
The next step is to learn which nonprofits fit with your values, and to research them. Look online using GuideStar.org or your state attorney general’s webpage. These provide information about nonprofit programs, finances, board leadership, mission and more. You can also phone a nonprofit and talk with someone about their work. Make a visit and observe the nonprofit in action, or attend a public event. Check out their website and social media, and talk with people you know and trust to see if they know of the nonprofit and its work.
After you decide which nonprofits you want to give to, determine how much you are able to give. Once you know the amount decide if you will give monthly, every paycheck, or perhaps once a year. Put in place a system for actual giving that works for you. It could be an automatic withdrawal from a bank account, an online gift, or a check you write.
Benefits of defining your giving priorities.
When you define your giving priorities you can make an impact that is in line with your values. You can give on your terms without having a “giving hangover.” And you can be comfortable when saying “yes” and when saying “no.”
Your giving makes an impact: you get to define the impact that your giving makes both on nonprofits and your budget.
Copyright 2017 – Mel and Pearl Shaw
Mel and Pearl Shaw are authors of four books on fundraising available on Amazon.com. For help growing your fundraising visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.