The Five "Ps" of Wise Giving

Wise giving is about more than just the amount you give. It’s more than just the check you write occasionally.

Wise giving is thinking about how philanthropy and giving can be a part of your life. Thinking ahead to what you want to achieve with your giving and what’s most important.

Moving from a reactive donor to a pro-active philanthropist.

Follow the five “Ps” of wise giving to get you started,

  1. Passionate. Before you even think about which charities to support, spend some time identifying what causes are most important to you. Nearly every fundraising solicitation you receive will be appealing, and there are thousands of worthy organizations out there that could use your support. But you can’t give to them all. So take some time to consider issues move you the most: The environment? Healthcare? Housing? Education? Children? A particular country? Try to get as specific as possible and identify two or three. The more passionate you are about the cause, the more likely you are to get involved beyond just giving money.
  2. Proactive. You’ve identified the causes about which you’re most passionate. But don’t wait to be asked by organizations that work on those causes. Go out and find appropriate charities that can connect you to those causes. There are some great resources online for such a search, starting with GuidestarCharity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau. Identify several groups you’d consider.
  3. Prepare. Once you have a list of organizations, it’s time to learn more about them. You probably have a good sense of them simply by being pro-active and identifying them. But you have to be sure you’re fully prepared and have the right information. Get an overview of the organization, its mission and its programs. Financial data is also helpful; donors should look at a charity’s cost of fundraising, its overall budget and whether or not it is running a deficit. Ideally, donors should look for signs of consistent management and costs over several years. Something to consider is spending a little time volunteering at an organization. This can give you insight about the charity and how it’s managed, and help to assure you that it’s the type of organization you want to support.
  4. Plan. Many donors take their time when making a purchase. Yet when it comes to giving their money away, they often do so quickly or on a whim. So once you have prepared a list of charities with which you are comfortable, spend a few minutes deciding HOW and HOW MUCH you want to give. It doesn’t have to be too detailed or have exact amount, just enough to give yourself a general idea. And don’t feel locked into it if you want to give more. Deciding on when to give is also important. Nearly half of all charitable giving occurs in the last three months of the year. But giving during the rest of the year is critical too, as some charities often struggle for funds in spring and summer.
  5. Powerful. Give for the maximum impact possible, which means knowing all of your giving options. Check out 25 Ways to Make Your Gift Go Further and learn about any number of ways to support your favorite charities.