Question of the Week
How to Make the Most Out of Charitable Giving
During the holidays, we bring charitable giving to the forefront. In 2020 especially, the right type of giving can have a large impact. Today, I’ll highlight three central questions that can help you make the most out of your charitable giving.
To me, this is the most important question. When I first started to give to charity on a regular basis, I really wanted to understand my rationale for giving. It sounds like a strange question, but I wanted to make sure I gave “for the right reasons.”
I ended up asking a lot of people in my life — family, friends, coworkers — why they gave to charity. And, of course, I got a variety of answers. Some people gave because their parents did, others believed their religion requires it, and still others just felt the need to help.
Through these discussions, I learned I mainly wanted to give so that I could provide opportunities for people around me. So many caring people have given me the tools and opportunities to improve my life. I want to pay that generosity forward to other people who need help. I give to empower others, whether I’m feeding the poor, funding AIDS research, or fighting for marriage equality. And to me, that’s money well spent.
Other financial planners also recommend starting with the “why.” Zach Teutsch, founder of Values Added Financial, a firm that focuses on helping people build financial lives they feel good about, says his giving comes from recognizing that he benefits from unearned privilege . “Some people have an easier time acquiring wealth for any number of reasons (race, gender, class, family, genetics, education privilege, etc),” he said. “Our culture trains us to think that if we have something it is because we deserve it and if we lack for something, it is because we don’t deserve it. This common way of thinking is terribly destructive and unjust.” In short, he also wants to pass on benefits he’s received with others.
Regardless of your reason, ample research shows that giving can actually lead to more happiness and fulfillment. The key is to understand why it brings fulfillment for you. And you shouldn’t just abstractly think about this question. Write down your answers, ask people around you and take the time to really understand why giving is important to you.
Quote of the Week
“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” – Roy T. Bennett
Task of the Week
Figuring out charitable gifts is a personal endeavor. This week, I urge you to really consider why, where, and how much to give rather than giving blindly. This type of focused giving will serve both you and your cause more effectively.