Making smart choices in your charitable giving

In the U.S., the majority of all giving happens in the fourth quarter. In the fall, requests from hundreds of nonprofit organizations doing great work start to pour into mailboxes and inboxes.

This year, the needs are particularly great. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted many people in our community and the nonprofits who serve them.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the need. Nonprofit organizations serve vital roles in our community, adding to our education system, protecting victims of domestic violence, caring for animals, advancing the arts, supporting hospitals and veterans groups, and more. It’s daunting to even think about prioritizing one critical service over another.

At the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, we believe there should be a personal plan for strategic philanthropy, no matter if you have $500 to donate or $500,000 to give.

We focus on two basic questions: What matters most to you, and how can you make the biggest impact?

As you think about your giving priorities, there are five steps to follow to create a personal plan for strategic philanthropy:

  1. Talk to your financial and philanthropic advisors. Discuss what assets to give and the different giving vehicles that are available, particularly if you plan to give a substantial amount. Your advisors can guide you on tax-reduction strategies, along with guiding on the opportunities to make the maximum impact.
  2. Think about what matters most to you. Try asking yourself this question: If I could spend two weeks volunteering for any cause or nonprofit, what would it be?
    If you have multiple issue areas that you want to support, consider focusing your research and giving in one or two areas, and then moving on to different areas of focus next year.
  3. Do some research. What organizations in your community are working on the issues that matter most to you? Do you have a clear sense of what your donations to these organizations will support?
    The Nonprofit Needs List can help. Started during the pandemic, the Nonprofits Needs List is a centralized list of local nonprofits’ greatest needs and the specific dollar amounts needed to fund each project.
  4. Get the family involved. Giving together is a great way for families to share interests and values. When children are involved in giving (and volunteering) — even at very modest levels — they learn the joy and importance of becoming contributing and involved members of their communities.
  5. Look for ways to multiply the impact. Donors can give directly to nonprofits, or work through the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay to multiply the impact of a gift. At times, the Foundation can offer matching incentives when fundholders contribute or use the power of collective giving through avenues like donor-advised funds.

With a personal plan for strategic philanthropy, it’s easy to give for maximum effect. Your gifts make a real difference in the areas that you feel are critically important to our community.

Sheila Kinman, CAP® is the Senior Vice President of Philanthropy at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay where she helps donors design and fulfill their charitable giving goals. She is also a Charted Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®), a designation that provides knowledge for guiding charitable individuals, businesses and foundations. Contact the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay for help with your charitable giving.

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