Developing Your Charitable Goals

  • Define your goals for giving. What are you passionate about?
  • What kind of impact do you want to make? Local? Global?
  • How do your giving goals fit into your investment, retirement, and estate planning goals?

Money to give

Today, millions of Baby Boomers and others now find themselves in a position to share some of the fruits of their life’s work with others.

And sharing they are. According to a 2013 study from Blackbaud,* Boomers account for $61.9 billion per year in donations, or 43% of all dollars donated.

Before you begin your own process of giving to a charity, it’s wise to start at the beginning. Think hard about broad causes you’re passionate about and then use that process of discernment to begin narrowing your search. Then find particular organizations that best serve that cause.

An infographic that says Boomers account for $61.9 billion per year in donations, or 43% of all dollars donated.* *Blackbaud study, 2013

Find your interests, then gauge your impact

Many prospective donors have spent their lives with a narrow focus — working, saving, and caring for their families. They may not be well–versed on the universe of possible beneficiaries of their philanthropy.

Individuals need to look at what charitable causes interest them. Are they interested in supporting music, education, scientific causes, the arts, or health care-oriented organizations? Is there any organization their children or grandchildren are involved in that they might want to give to or volunteer at, in order to spend more time with family members?

From there, it’s important for budding philanthropists to identify the type of impact they want to make locally, nationally, or even globally. Some will want to set aside charitable bequests, benefiting causes upon their death, while others are eager to begin right away, to see the impact of their philanthropy during their lifetime.

This should be done in close coordination with a person’s Financial Advisor and other professional advisors to determine how the gift or gifts may impact their investment plan, along with their income and estate tax planning needs.

Do some amateur sleuthing

After you've narrowed down the field and thought about where and when to make your impact, begin zeroing in on potential recipients. The search should always begin by checking a charity’s website. A review of online tools such as Charity Navigator and Guidestar, which independently appraise charities, also makes sense.

You should always check the IRS website for the Exempt Organization Select Check. That site lets you know whether a particular charity is an approved organization, and confirm if your contribution is tax-deductible.

Before you begin your own process of giving to a charity, it’s wise to start at the beginning — by thinking hard about broad causes you're passionate about.

Potential donors might also search the internet for articles on the charity and their leaders, to see if they’ve been interviewed or have written any articles. Take a look at what the group has been doing in the community to promote their organization.

Finally, when you’ve narrowed your search down to one or just a handful of possible organizations, you might consider volunteering for the group for a while. That would allow you to judge the organization from the inside. As a volunteer, you can quiz the staff on their impressions, and really see by firsthand experience what level of service they’re offering to the community.

*Blackbaud, August 2013

Next steps

  • Define the causes and efforts you’re passionate about.
  • Do research and personally get to know the organizations you’re considering supporting financially.
  • Work with your Financial Advisor to determine how much you can comfortably and responsibly give.

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