8 Questions to Answer for Year End Charitable Giving

As 2013 draws to a close, you might consider charitable giving. Here are 8 questions to answer, suggested by Lisa Endlich Heffernan, co-founder of Grown and Flown and author of Be the Change.

Lisa, of Grown and Flown, writes: Giving, it turns out, really is better than getting. In recent a New York Times article, researchers Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton explained that more money does not really make us happier and that it is what we do with our money that has the greatest impact on our happiness. Whether you are considering charitable giving of $25, $2,500 or $25,000, the questions you need to ask yourself are the same.  As we near year-end, the time to do so is now.

Good philanthropy involves a little bit of research and a lot of compassion.  Great philanthropy involves asking ourselves some very hard questions.


1. Do you know why you want to give to this cause?  Why are you doing this?

This starting point is the place to ask the hard questions: what do you really care about and why? This is the moment to let go of so many of the “shoulds” that can dominate our lives.  It is the time to confront any childhood baggage head on and be true to yourself.  Your family may have always given to the local church but art may be what calls to you. This is the moment to be honest with yourself and to answer that call.

2. To be successful do you need stories or statistics, or perhaps both?

Many givers like to know the beneficiaries of their largesse.  They want a narrative that focuses on real lives and real stories to know that their giving has achieved its goal.  They do not want their charitable giving to be faceless.  Others want to know that their actions have had a measurable impact.  They want to see the before and after, not as a look on someone’s face but rather numbers on a spreadsheet.  There is nothing wrong with either approach, just make sure you know which one is yours.

3. Do you need to be expert, or at least highly knowledgeable in the area of your philanthropy?

For some, philanthropy is a way to delve into a world they have never known, be it healthcare, Africa or a local museum, and to learn right alongside their money. Others like to stay closer to home.

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Van Kozelka December 19, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Please consider giving locally to your public library. Katonah Village Library serves all ages of the community with materials, programs, internet, free Wi-Fi and many more services. Our Children's room is so busy we had to add another Mother Goose program this year! Remember Sandy - many, many people came to the library to get warm, use WiFi, charge their cell phones and comisserate with their neighbors. The library was a wonderful gathering place! We have to raise $200,000 for our operating budget 2012. Our board of trustees uses all of our funding very efficiently. We could really use your donation NOW! Thank you, Van Kozelka, Director of Katonah Village Library
donny baseball December 19, 2012 at 05:47 PM
It is a sad state of affairs, libraries in this country are tantamount to blacksmith shops. The end is near.
10506er December 20, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Important tip when giving to small organizations: when I send a check, especially if it's sizable, I also include a self-addressed stamped envelope and a pre-written letter back to me stating the amount of the donation and that it is tax-deductible. I've run into this problem many a time when giving to places in Appalachia - they aren't savvy or aware that a letter needs to go back to the person giving. It's better to include than to sit and wait or panic before tax time that you never got a letter of receipt of said money.


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