The first stage of giving is to think about what you want to achieve—giving becomes rewarding when it reflects your beliefs and when you can see what you are accomplishing. Setting clear objectives will help you to work out what is important to you, and provide you with something to assess the success of your giving against.
Through setting objectives, you will become clear about what you would like to achieve with your giving. This provides the starting point for working out how to make that vision come to fruition. Your objectives should reflect what is important to you and what is motivating you to give, and can be broader than simply choosing a cause to support. For some, their main objective is to improve their local community, whilst for others it’s about bringing together their wider family.
Clear objectives provide you with a set of priorities to help inform your decision-making, and enable you to look back and assess the impact and success of your giving.
Mission & vision
A donor’s vision is an inspirational, long-term view of the kind of world they would like to see, while the mission defines how they are going to try to achieve that vision. Some donors like to set out in writing their vision and mission, either to guide their own internal strategy, or for external purposes—for example for potential grantees or other funders.
A mission statement is not a replacement for setting objectives or defining funding criteria, which go into much more detail about your wishes and plans. Instead, the vision and mission statements should be short (one or two sentences), inspiring, durable (designed to last five or more years) and distinctive.
Lifetime or legacy giving
There is a balance to strike between committing resources to charitable causes during your lifetime and leaving money to charity in your will. ‘Giving whilst living’ allows you to see the difference your contribution is making and get actively involved in supporting the cause. However, many people may like to be generous to charities but concerned about their own savings in which case legacy giving maybe more appropriate.
If you decide to give through a charitable foundation one key decision is whether the foundation will exist in perpetuity, distributing the investment income and preserving capital, or whether you want it to ‘spend out’ over a fixed period.
Giving time alongside money can be a powerful way to make your giving more rewarding. It fosters a deeper connection with the cause, detailed understanding of the challenges the organisation faces, and an opportunity to share in its achievements. For many charitable organisations, particularly smaller and underfunded organisations, the contribution of skilled volunteers is hugely valuable, and can sometimes have a greater impact than donations of money.
Giving time needn’t mean participating in an organisation’s regular volunteering programme. It could involve contributing professional legal or financial expertise; mentoring the charity’s senior staff; fundraising through your networks of contacts; or becoming a trustee.
Giving should be an enjoyable and rewarding activity, and family philanthropy is a great opportunity for family members to work together on inspiring projects. It can provide a focus which unifies the family across generations and geographical locations.
Many parents are concerned that their children should understand the value of money and develop an active social conscience. Philanthropy provides a forum to learn as a family about pressing social needs, whilst a family foundation can be a valuable tool for teaching children the responsibilities of wealth and articulating the family’s values and beliefs. Research1 indicates that 85% of wealthy families with children under 21 involve them in their giving.
Corporate philanthropy takes a range of different forms, depending on the type of business. It may involve financial support—for example a company may commit to donating a proportion of its profits to charitable causes. Financial contributions may be supplemented by fundraising or payroll giving by staff members. In addition, staff time, skills and in-kind contributions can be also donated to support these projects.
Corporate funding has the opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives through the substantial financial and non-financial resources at their disposal. It is crucial therefore for companies to think about how to best use their resources to address the needs of the individuals and charities they want to help.