Question of the Week
How to Make the Most Out of Charitable Giving
It’s that time of year to think about end-of-the-year charitable giving. During the holidays, we bring charitable giving to the forefront. Today, I’ll highlight three central questions to help you make the most of your charitable giving.
To me, this is the most critical question. When I started giving to charity regularly, I wanted to understand my rationale for giving. It sounds strange, but I wanted to ensure I gave “for the right reasons.”
I ended up asking many people in my life — family, friends, and 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 required it, and 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. So 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, the 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 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 the benefits he’s received to others.
Regardless of your reason, ample research shows that giving can 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. Instead, write down your answers, ask people around you and take the time to understand why giving is important.
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 consider why, where, and how much to give rather than giving blindly. This focused giving will serve you and your cause more effectively.