I am really good at procrastinating.  Thank goodness the act of “Giving” isn’t time-specific and is not tied to year-end planning.  The way I approach philanthropy and volunteering is to focus on projects that have a clear start and end date and where I know I can be contributing to moving a project or initiative forward.  That said, we all are solicited at some point near the end of the year and the push to give financially and of our time has as much to do with the holiday season as it does with the financial calendar and year-end tax planning.  So hear are some ideas to help you in the last 72 hours of this year consider where to give, how much to give and how to do so.

  • Where to give?

Creating community is an output of effective philanthropy. Whether you do so anonymously or in full public view have a clear picture of what you define as your community and where this is located will help you narrow down your area of focus.

  • How much to give?

I am asked this question often. My response is that the amount you give should be based on three things: 1) What is the size and cost of the project/organization you want to support? 2) How much can you afford to give? 3) Will your contribution affect the outcome of the project or the mandate of the organization that you want to support?

If the size of the project is monumental, I suggest tying your donation to a line item or specific cost of a project (i.e. buying supplies or paying for a person’s salary) so that the bottom line of the initiative is affected.  If this doesn’t resonate with you, or if the organization isn’t keen to accept this type of donation, consider making your contribution to an Area of Greatest Need that this organization has identified where you contribution will really help their efforts.

Warren Buffet has been quoted as saying, “Leave enough for your kids that they will do something, but not so much that they won’t do anything.” Applying this to your personal philanthropy, give enough so that the organization can do something and not so little that they can’t activate your gift. By the same token, what you can afford to give is based as much on your own personal assessment of your wealth as it is about your long-term wealth management planning strategy.  Alison Maher, Family Wealth Coach says you should “Know your Number.” This is the amount you need to have to live comfortably and anything over and above this can be used for your social capital (philanthropy and legacy planning) and what you will pass down to your heirs or leave in your estate.

Social impact is “A significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge.” Social changes manifest themselves in a number of ways – reduction in overall need surrounding an issue; improved quality of life as measured by agreed upon metrics; changes in how community organizes itself; shifts in socio-economic demographics.  Your contribution can generate social impact in a number of ways from direct service provision, to awareness raising on an issue, to engaging others and leveraging to a greater value.

Even last-minute donations can be impactful – we have made this easy for you through the Place2Give Foundation.  You can find specific projects that other donors are supporting on myPlace2Give or by vising the Place2Give Area of Greatest Need donation page. The Place2Give Foundation Board of Directors considers projects for undesignated funds in both Canada and the US depending on the source of the donations.

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