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Your Financial Fitness: 6 Ideas to Make the Most of Charitable Giving

by   CBC


Dec 20, 2013 18:13

Involving the little (and not so little) people in our lives with charitable activities is a great way to help them learn important values and feel good about themselves and their world. Especially during this season of giving, many of us make giving back with our families part of our holiday routine, whether it's volunteering at a local soup kitchen, or contributing canned goods to a food bank. This is good not only for your moral karma, but for more pragmatic reasons. December 31st is the end of the tax year and you and your family can start preparing for a generous tax deduction come April 2014. To help make the most impact both in your community and your wallet, here are some ideas no matter what your budget, courtesy of some of my giving heroes: 

1. Do your giving while you're living, says Dress for Success Worldwide CEO, Joi Gordon. "I heard that at a conference and it really made an impact on me. Before then, I thought of 'philanthropy' as something the wealthy participate in and something that the rest of us might address in our wills, if we could afford it. This made me realize that my gift, no matter how small or how large, can go a long way to advance society." 

2. Make a place for giving in your household budget, says David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. "Budget your giving based on a percentage of your income and distribute it amongst causes and issues that are important to you because you are confident the nonprofit leaders and programs you believe in will deliver the intended outcomes you desire. Sometimes it makes sense just to give because you are moved to give, and we have to be proportional about strategic versus emotional philanthropy." 

3. Think local and support small is what Esther Stearns believes. "I prefer to give in areas where my contribution will make a visible impact. So I tend to give more locally and to smaller groups where my contribution makes a significant difference." 

4. Put your money where your heart is, advises Joi. "There are so many great causes, all throughout this world, that need our support, but I believe that giving should be personal. My goal is to make my giving portfolio a financial track record of the things that I care about, hope for and believe in." 

5. Giving isn't just about money, says Heather Spohr, award-winning writer of the blog The Spohrs Are Multiplying, as well as the president of Friends Of Maddie , a charitable organization that supports the families of critically ill babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. "Find an organization or cause that you're passionate about, and then figure out how you can best help. For some, this may be donating money, for others it might be by volunteering their time. Is there a unique skill you have that you can use to the benefit of your cause? Do it! I love using my social media skills to help the causes I'm most passionate about." 

6. Think innovation, impact and outcomes, says Wendi Sturgis, EVP of Sales and Service at Yext. "As someone who works at a start up, I approach my philanthropy investing in a similar fashion. I want to work with innovative, high-impact, outcome-oriented organizations. I always encourage people to understand what they are passionate about, since investing and giving has to feel personal. I also look for great leaders whom I believe in. Finally, I think it is important to support the organizations that have had an impact on your life, ala your alma mater, etc." 

7. Don't just give, but invest, suggests Angela Haines, Forbes blogger and founder of "I decided to set aside a portion of my assets for risk, and that is the portion I use to invest in very early start ups in companies headed by women. It's my small contribution to helping women advance in business, something I've been passionate about since my early days as a Fortune reporter. To me it's about helping these amazing women realize their dreams--and often impact society at the same time."

What are some of the ways you give back during the holidays? Share your ideas in the comments!