|Coach Andrea's Coaching Tip of the Week|
Andrea Novakowski, Master Certified
Coaching for Corporations, Businesses and Individuals
-- David Bach
It's the end of 2004, and your desk is overflowing with solicitations from many worthy charities. How do you decide which to support, and at what level? How do you say "no" to personal requests for those you won't support? What will influence your giving decisions?
The answer is planning: determine your goals, use those goals to make a plan -- and then stick to it! Planning is the most efficient and effective way to manage all aspects of your life, including charitable giving.
Charitable giving shows your support for those people and causes you value and consider worthy. Your gifts are your personal response to human needs, improving the quality of your life and others'. Charitable giving is a profoundly creative act, nurturing YOU as well as the recipients of your gifts.
As you create your plan, think of yourself as a philanthropist ("lover of people"). You don't have to be wealthy to be a philanthropist, you just need to share a desire to make a difference. In fact, of the 89% of American households which donate to charitable causes annually, those earning the least give the most, proportional to their income. And 44% of adults volunteer an average of 3.6 hours a week. As a philanthropist, you become a very powerful agent of change -- at any level of giving.
Here are the Six Steps to Build Your Own Charitable Giving Plan:
1. Decide who will participate in the discussion.
Will it be you alone, or your spouse, children, friends, financial advisors, employees or co-workers?
2. Define your interests.
What do you care about fervently? Why are you giving? To support an institution? Respond to a crisis or help find a cure for a disease? Honor a friend or remember a loved one? Save money on taxes? Fulfill a religious obligation? Gain recognition for your business?
3. Determine your giving level.
How will you establish a charitable giving budget? Will it be a pre-determined percentage of your income (net or gross), a fixed amount, or whatever is left over after your other obligations are met?
4. Choose the recipient(s) for your gift(s).
Will you support a cause or philosophy, a political candidate or party, or a friend going through a tough time? Are you passionate about animal rights, the environment, the arts -- or a particular population, such as immigrants, children, or the disabled? Do you want to benefit a particular geographic area, such as your hometown? Where do you want to make a difference?
5. Decide on the best vehicle, and your timetable for giving together, as these are closely linked.
You can make a gift of cash, time or property directly to an organization. Or make a planned gift, such as a bequest. You can set up a donor-advised fund through a community foundation or a brokerage firm. Or give to a national fund like the United Way, to a women's fund, or religious federation.
6. Put your plan into practice and review it regularly.
Be creative. Find a need and fill it. See what needs to be done -- and do it. Even very small gifts, carefully chosen and implemented, can have enormous impact. With your plan in place, you now can say, "Sorry, it's not in my Charitable Giving Plan this year" to requests you don't wish to support.
When you match your gifts with your goals -- when you give proactively, not reactively -- you not only are doing good, you get much more pleasure from your philanthropy. Happy Giving!
Gail R. Shapiro, Charitable Giving Consultant, can be reached at http://www.gailshapiro.com.