Five Things to Consider Before You Give


We’re now more than halfway through January. Among the New Year’s resolutions to eat right and exercise more, many people resolved to do more to help others. However, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Where should we give? How much should we give?

As a Gift Planning Consultant, I love to help people take the first steps in their generosity journeys. As you make charitable giving a part of your new year, here are five questions to consider before you get started:

1. What causes are you passionate about?

Which charities catch your attention? What causes do you care about most? Perhaps you care deeply about art or education? Maybe your heart aches for people living without access to clean water. Is it important to you that a charity is working in your local community, or do you prefer to respond to the greatest need, even if it’s internationally? Pay attention to where your heart and spirit lead.

2. Where have you given before?

Look at your giving history. Do you want to increase your donation to those charities, or do you want to start giving to a new cause? Consider if there’s a special program or project at your usual charities that could use your support.

3. How often should I give?

Giving to a charity can be one-time or part of a regular schedule. For those who want to give to multiple causes on an ongoing basis, it is a good idea to include charitable giving in their financial planning. Speak with specialist advisors, such as an accountant, financial advisor, lawyer or gift planning consultant, who can help you explore the benefits of long-term charitable giving based on your specific financial scenarios.

4. What will the charity do with the gift?

Before you give to a charity, take the time to do some research. Visit their website, read the latest annual report, or give them a call and ask questions so you feel comfortable about where your donation is going.

5. How much should I give?

Charities appreciate all gifts, large and small, and everyone needs to give according to their own values. However, in the case of a substantial gift, some research can ensure your donation does the good you intend. Check out the charity on the Government of Canada website to see what their annual donations are. If your gift represents a sizeable percentage of the charity’s annual receipts, consider splitting your donation out over several years or dividing your donation among several charities.

Taking the time to ask questions can help you make giving decisions that are the right fit for you and the charities you want to support. Consider your options, then begin your generosity journey today. It’s a resolution well worth keeping.

Contributed by David Barker
Gift Planning Consultant

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