1. Get focused
Charitable giving is one area where you don’t always want to stretch your dollars—you want to concentrate them. Often, you can make a more significant impact when you limit the organizations or cause areas you support to a few you really care about, and then make a larger gift to each. Try creating a charitable mission statement to help you focus your efforts.
2. Choose a great nonprofit
It goes without saying that donating to a well-run nonprofit—small or large—will have greater impact on the cause you care about. But how to find one? Begin by doing some basic research using sites like Candid or Charity Navigator, as well as reading materials on the nonprofits’ websites. And go a step further by making sure you know the answers to a few basic questions you should ask every nonprofit.
3. Make unrestricted gifts
Instead of designating your charitable gifts for a special purpose, consider providing general support to an organization you care about. This gives the charity the flexibility to use the funds on their most mission-critical priorities—which will help them do the most good and deliver stronger results.
4. Make a multi-year gift
Found a charity you really love? If you’d like to commit to long-term support, connect with the organization’s leadership. Let them know that you plan to make a multi-year commitment—and how much you plan to give over time. The more that a charity knows about how much support they can expect, the better they can plan how to put your dollars to work.
5. Give together
There are many ways to come together with others to maximize your giving impact. Participating in a giving circle—where multiple people pool their resources to provide nonprofits with support—is a great way to make a larger impact than you could individually. Similarly, bring your family together by starting a giving tradition—like having all family members commit to supporting a common charity through donations or volunteering.
6. Maximize your giving dollars
You can make your money work harder for good with smart and simple financial strategies. In fact, you may find that you can increase your giving by 20 percent or more—without feeling it in your bank account. Try setting funds aside for giving so it’s a part of your budget, or make use of smart giving strategies such as:
- Donating stock or other appreciated assets
- "Bunching" your charitable donations
- Going beyond traditional charitable giving and trying out impact investing
- Using a charitable giving vehicle like a donor-advised fund
Take some time to research the options and speak to your tax advisor to see if you can make your giving dollars stretch further.
7. Spread the word
Your voice can be just as important as your wallet in helping to support the causes you care about. Follow great organizations on social media and share posts that showcase their work or educate about the issues. If you can commit the time, agree to help with fundraising or volunteering. Or, you can give specifically to organizations or projects that help to shine light on an important issue, which can lead to greater awareness and additional support.
8. Just get started
It’s easy to feel like giving is something you’ll get to later—or to feel as though you don’t know enough about an issue or have enough money or time to make a difference. That’s why the best thing you can do is to take the first step—right now. Choose an organization and send that donation. Sign up for that charitable walk or race. Share a post on social media about a cause you care about. Don’t delay—take action.