Thanks also to Jennifer Corriggio, Bolder Giving's program fellow, for help in drafting this blog series.
When people ask me what Bolder Giving does, I explain that we work to inspire people to give big and take more risks with their giving. As I prepare to transition out of my role as Bolder Giving’s ED, I want to share a series of blog posts with some of the basic “giving resolutions” I’ve used over the years as possibilities for people to consider as they seek to shake up their philanthropy. The first one is a simple yet challenging resolution – Give More!
I often get asked, “what should I think about when I’m trying to figure out how much to give?” and hear how overwhelmed people are when they grapple with big questions like “how much.” Remember, the key to following through with resolutions is to make them specific, manageable, and to create a goal that is completely within your control!
What are some ways that you could give more? Well, to begin with, you might first need to get organized with your giving. Do you currently have a budget? Or are you giving based on whim, feeling, or habit? There’s no right or wrong answer, but before you determine how much more you could give, it’s worth taking a look at your current giving habits. You should first figure out how much you give – your giving budget if you will – whether that is an annual budget, or an average monthly level, etc. Once you’ve figured out your baseline, here are five possible approaches you could take to experiment with giving more:
- Once you have established your giving budget, ask yourself if you could give 10% more – simple and straightforward, this is possibly the easiest way to push yourself. And if 10% feels easy, I encourage you to think about what percent increase would make you pause and go “whoa, that’s too much!” Then move your giving to just before that edge…or even to that edge if you want to explore how that level of giving feels.
- If you want to be more generous with a specific gift, consider adding a “0” to your previous gift. If you are not comfortable with such a steep increase, consider making a pledge for the gift with the “0” on the end, but pledged over two or three years.
- Consider setting aside money for an Impulse Fund. The purpose of this fund is to set aside money for giving on a whim or impulse. These are gifts to organizations to support a friend who asks for your support, or perhaps for relief of an unanticipated disaster that touched you. With an Impulse Fund, you give yourself permission ahead of time to experience the thrill of “just saying yes” without too much analysis into the giving or organization.
- Another way you could give more is to make the gift now rather than later. If you were planning on making a bequest, could you at least share the intention of the gift now? For example, you could create a charitable trust and notify the beneficiary charity of the gift.
- Consider giving something up or changing a consumption habit, so that you could have more money to give. This could be something as simple the classic encouragement to make your coffee at home and saving $3/day ($15/week and $60/month) by not purchasing your latte from the coffee shop. Think about the impact you could make by giving an additional $60/month to a charity you respect by giving up something that likely would not change the quality of your life. It doesn’t have to be your designer coffee either. What’s something else you could easily give up? An impulse shopping purchase for shoes you would likely wear only a few times? A magazine subscription for a magazine you never get around to reading?
We hope that we’ve been able to inspire you with a few creative ways you could give more. What’s stopping you from coming up with your own ways to give more?