Think. Plan. Do in 2016.

by | Dec 3, 2015

Add one thing…..write donation checks. Think. Plan. Do in 2016.  

Do you find yourself writing most of your donation checks in December? Do you know why?  Here are answers most of us would have to that question:

  • I like to wait until all the requests come in so I can divide my giving budget appropriately.
  • I like to do it all at one time and be done with it.
  • I wait to see how much money will be available for giving after my living expenses for the year.
  • My family likes to make the decisions together and that’s when we find time for the discussion.
  • I believe charities need donations more at the end of the year.
  • Etc., etc., etc.

You get the idea, there is no end to the list of reasons we have for waiting till year-end to write donation checks. Don’t misunderstand me here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these reasons.

In fact, charities everywhere have become accustomed to our last minute giving behavior. But this post isn’t about them, it’s about us and how we can increase our giving impact by changing this one habit.

Habits Can Change 

Since you’ve already left your check writing to December, use this time to examine WHY you are writing each check. Is it because you care deeply about the cause, a friend is on the board, or there is business value in having your company name on the list of donors? Or some other reason that is important to you.

  • Do a quick assessment of the “WHY for each check.
  • Pick a few to go deeper with in 2016.

Plan a larger gift, whatever larger means for your budget, for next year. Make one gift each quarter to an organization you identified to go deeper with rather than waiting to the end of the year. Or pick one organization and make the gift quarterly. That spreads out the impact of your giving both for the charities and your budget.

Early in 2016 begin to research the organization or few you’ve picked.

  • Watch for articles in the newspaper.
  • Read their newsletter each time it arrives in your mailbox.
  • Ask friends and family what they know or think about the organizations.
  • Call and ask questions about a particular program you find interesting.

If you do these few things and make a larger gift to the organizations you identified by the end of 2016 you will have begun the work of making an impact and becoming an effective donor. You will be more informed about a cause you care about and a smarter giver.

If you are thinking about a donation that would be considered significant by your and their standards you may want to seek the advice of a philanthropy consultant or other adviser. Add that to the research you will do so that your gift will have the impact you intend and the results you expect.

Remember the process begins right now in 2015 as you write your donation checks. This year every organization will be thankful for your gifts, whatever the size. Next year the few you pick to go deeper with will be thankful and the cause better served. The only way to increase impact and become a more effective donor is to begin. You don’t become a marathon runner unless you first just run, and for some walking is best advised as the starting point.  So, start this year to prepare for the donor you aim to be in 2016.

Write donation checks. Think. Plan. Do in 2016.




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