Charity: 3 tips for creating a giving plan you’re comfortable with

May 15, 2016/Confessions

Henry and I have always been drawn to charity helping children in need, whether they need education, housing, or healthcare. It’s a theme that’s run through our marriage from the time we walked down the aisle (and possibly before, I can’t remember!).

Is it no wonder that we ended up with a child who needs specialized healthcare? Perhaps God was softening our hearts even then.

Seven years ago when doctors told me Ryan would die, before he even breathed his first breath, I was utterly devastated. We were told there was no hope, until we met Ryan’s cardiologist at Children’s National.

evelyn quote

When I read Evelyn’s story above, I can’t imagine the grief of a mother who is watching her child die, helpless and hopeless without accessible healthcare. To have someone in her village come along and provide the necessary treatment to save her child – – that must be joy unspeakable.

The last few weeks I’ve asked you to help me with raising funds to recruit, train, and equip community healthcare promoters in Uganda. Thank you to those who so generously gave out of my friend network, my readership, and on social media. Through your generosity, we are giving over $1,000 to The Mother’s Day Campaign.

Giving Plan

Today, I’d like to share with you some tips for creating a giving plan. I chuckle because I probably should’ve started the Mother’s Day Campaign with this post to help increase donations, haha!, but I suppose it’s better late than never.

The first five years of my time in the workforce was spent as an executive assistant to the president of an engineering firm. I learned a lot about the business world and the inner workings of an executive. The following year or so, I was the assistant to the president of an asset firm that ran a hedge fund (a fancy smancy name for an investment vehicle for the wealthy). In this role, I was able to observe and learn about the inner workings of high society and how the wealthy handle their money. It was eye-opening and fascinating for a 25-year-old who grew up in a working class household.

I remember asking my boss, who received numerous requests for donations to various organizations and causes, how he and his wife decided what they gave money to. There are so many wonderful causes out there, how does one decide where their money is best given?

I’ll never forget his answer. It’s one that struck me as incredibly wise and one that influenced Henry’s and my charitable giving plan.

Fund your passions –

Decide on the issues you’re passionate about. These can be very personal – for instance raising money for health issues related to family history, for organizations that your family has benefited from, or benefits for a sector of the population your family feels called to serve. There are great examples from history and present day…. For example, Bill and Melinda Gates have focused their billions of charitable donations in eradicating malaria from planet earth – and they are making a huge difference. Andrew Carnegie was passionate that all people, regardless of income, have access to books and thus, the Carnegie Library System (Wikipedia reports Carnegie granted money for the building of 2,509 libraries between 1883 and 1929 in 12 different countries including 1,689 in the United States.) Mark Zuckerberg is backing a space exploration project to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Just like Henry and I are drawn to children’s causes, you might have a social justice topic that resonates deeply within you. That… that’s where you want to focus your dollars.

Support your friends’ and family’s passions –

Inevitably, everyone receives requests for donations from family and friends who are using their network to fundraise for their own passions. Anything from Girl Scout Cookies (who, me?), magazines for the local school, or even invitations to dinners, balls, and golf tournaments that benefit organizations like The American Heart Association, The Boys and Girls Club, St. Jude’s, and so on. For these, decide on a fixed amount you can give to show your support to the various requests you receive. For some this might mean $10, for others $250. And for others,$1000. No man is an island, so show a little love and support those people who are important to you.

Forget the rest –

The remainder of requests you receive (especially anonymous callers/mailers), you say “no” to, as simple as that. No guilt. No fuss. No regrets. Everyone is passionate about different things… That’s what makes the world go round. It’s okay to keep your cash for the organizations and issues you’ve determined are important to you. Does this mean you can’t give the dollar at check out for whatever great cause the store is fundraising for? Not necessarily. But it does mean you can leave guilt out of the equation because you’ve taken the time to think through a giving plan and have confidence in the legacy you’re leaving.

If this seems too restrictive to you and you fight the idea of planning out where you’ll send your charitable donations, make up your own guidelines! Having some sort of a process or plan leaves you feeling generous and grateful for your position of helping as opposed to resentful and guilt-ridden when you have to say no. The important thing is to be proactive in giving back to the world around you, whether in your local community or in the world at large.

I’ve never regretted a penny I gave to help those less fortunate than me, which is more than I can say for purchases I’ve made (sometimes of greater monetary cost) like clothing, shoes, or even food. By taking time to figure out your giving plan, you’re well on your way to saying the same.

p.s. The Adventure Project’s Mother’s Day Campaign was extended a few more days to raise the $25,000 we need to receive the matching grant from One Day’s Wages. Here’s your chance to put your giving plan in action! Go here to donate.

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(c) 2016 Leighann Marquiss