Let’s Explore and Discover Your Personal Giving Recipe

by | Aug 30, 2016

It’s just me and the pinto beans. Whether dry or fresh, one spice or five, quart pan or crock pot – all have been a part of my quest for a recipe with just the right flavor. Even after many years of cooking, tasting and testing I haven’t’ nailed it.  I’ve studied countless recipes in search of that one ingredient that would transform my pot of pintos into the rich, spicy beans of one of my favorite hamburger joints. I even read the reviews and suggestions.

As my family can attest, I change my recipe to test this ingredient or that in my search for the perfect pot of pinto beans. I keep notes as I go just in case this pot is the one.

I record the ingredients and amounts, make notes on who liked or didn’t like the flavor, and then start all over next time to tweak the recipe. All this time in the kitchen leads to at least two questions. Am I learning anything? Am I having any fun?

Finding the best recipe for donating and grant-making can be equally challenging. Learning while we give and having fun doing it are important. There are countless ingredient combinations.

One person likes to write checks, wants no recognition and wishes the organization wouldn’t even spend money producing a newsletter. The next person loves to attend special event fundraisers, skims the newsletter articles, but studies the pictures. Still another person is only interested in giving where the impact can be measured and is most interested in the numbers.

Like my pinto bean recipe, you must create your giving recipe. If you’re like me, it won’t be right the first time and might take years.

Recently while working with a donor, we explored three questions to figure out her giving recipe. We plan to test the answers in the coming year.

• What organizations do you give to over and over? Identify what you like about the ones you give to repeatedly.

• What do you like supporting? Identify what you like to give to; for instance, general operations, specific programs that sound like good ideas, underwriting special events to help them raise more money or programs that demonstrate success.

• How do you like to give? Perhaps you only write general support checks once a year, or you like to donate items for the silent auction at their special event, or maybe you give where you volunteer so you can see your gift in action.

I know this sounds too simple, but the answers aren’t simple. They are the key to your personal giving recipe.

Tom Douglas, one of Seattle’s best-known chefs, knows a thing or two about feeding people and partnering with other great chefs to create destination eateries. With pizza joints, bakeries and fine dining he has tested ingredients from cooking to business. Here’s what Tom says about mastering the recipe.

“Mastering one recipe is better than mastering too many. Learn something and own it, and you’ll feel so much better about it. You’ll have more confidence if you’ve made it five times, and that confidence adds so much fun to cooking.” 

So, identify the ingredients in your current giving recipe. Do you enjoy the results? If you have questions, start testing your how and who ingredients. Like my pot of pinto beans, I’m not always the best judge of the recipe. It’s always worth a conversation with an advisor or a friend as you test and learn. By the way, it’s the kind of conversation I enjoy so don’t hesitate to connect. Meanwhile, I’ll be in the kitchen.  


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