Use a Giving Strategy to Help Causes You Care About

So, you want to give money, but not sure where to start?

Well, I don’t blame you.

Giving is hard because, according to some of the data out there, there are well over one million registered non-profits globally.

Even so, if you’re like me, the holidays serve as a reminder about how crucial it is to focus on giving rather than receiving.

So then, with all the choices available to you, who exactly are you supposed to give your money to in the first place?

Like, which one is the best pick, right? It’s enough to put you into a state of analysis paralysis.

Now, make no mistake, this lack of action isn’t because of a shortage of red cans, street performers, or local charity adverts asking for money this time of the year.

Yet still, for many of us, the big question is, “where do I start with so many options out there?”

Now, if you have a genuine desire to give wisely this holiday season, but don’t know where to start, then the good news is that you can achieve this end by approaching charitable giving with a clear understanding of your motivations, commitment level, and a well-defined strategy.

To be sure, by approaching this giving season with a predefined game plan, you can not only ensure that your contributions make a meaningful and lasting difference, it will also help you achieve peace of mind knowing that your time, talent, and treasures are being used effectively to bring about positive change in the world around you.

Section 1: Start with your Why

Alright, so when it comes to crafting a winning giving strategy, one of the first things you’ll want to do is to start with your “why.”

And why is this seemingly subjective approach the first thing to do?

Shouldn’t you instead work through sorting a list of non-profits or charities to give your money to?

Well, the fact is that starting with your “why” helps you focus your charitable giving energy and intentions.

Indeed, when you take a step back and look at the world around you, you might notice pressing challenges in your community that tug at your heartstrings.

And so, starting with your “why” allows you to focus your giving on supporting those crucial causes.

How so?

Well, the process itself forces you to ask: What issues or challenges deeply resonate with me? What do I envision for a better world or society? Or perhaps, what are my long-term altruistic goals?

So then, these introspective questions effectively act as the cornerstone of your philanthropic journey.

Indeed, identifying your “why” for giving can set a solid foundation for all your future altruistic endeavors. You can think of it like building a house by ensuring that the foundation is rock solid before building from the ground up.

And so, what does this look like in practice?

The Practice of Why

Well, imagine for a moment that your “why” is centered around your passion for children’s education. With this clarity, then, you could channel your resources towards programs that bolster education, provide scholarships, or even set up reading centers in your local community.

In a similar way, if environmental conservation speaks to your “why”, then you could use your funds to support reforestation projects, wildlife preservation, or sustainable community initiatives.

In essence, by understanding your passion and where you want to give, you pave the way for a purposeful and impactful contribution.

So, now that you understand why knowing your “why” is so essential for your giving efforts, what should you do next?

Well, here again, before signing that check or making your next donation, take a moment to reflect on what you genuinely want your giving efforts to accomplish. This moment of introspection should be more than just a fleeting feeling, and rather a thoughtful decision that guides your wealth toward making a meaningful difference in your community and in your world.

Section 2: Identify Your Level of Commitment

Alright, so now that you’ve identified your primary motivation for giving, and have focused the direction of your giving efforts, let’s spend some time talking about commitment.

Now, while some of you might believe that charitable giving primarily involves writing checks or donating money, the truth is that making a dent in the world extends much further than just giving away your financial resources.

How so?

Well, when it comes down to it, there are a multitude of ways you can impact the world around you that involve varying degrees of your resources.

You see, the real beauty of creating a giving strategy lies in the variety of ways you can contribute to making a difference in the community around you.

And so, what are we talking about here?

Well, here again, it’s not just about using your financial treasures to support things you care about. It’s also about dedicating your time and sharing your unique talents.

So then, when it comes to creating your giving strategy, once you’ve identified your “why”, take a few moments to dive deeper and ask yourself, “how much of my time, talent, or treasures do I want to be involved in with my altruistic efforts?”


For example, you might just want to make a one-off gift to a cause close to your heart, and that’s perfectly fine. This form of giving, typically known as gifting, can still be a beacon of hope and positivity for someone in need.

And so, what are the benefits of gifting? Well, to start, gifting offers you the immediacy of making an impact. That’s because, when you feel moved by a cause or an issue, gifting allows you to act on that impulse without any delays.

And so, the direct nature of this approach means that your chosen charity can receive and deploy your donation faster, possibly leading to quicker positive change.

And, from a practical standpoint, the benefit of simple gifting is that it’s often less cumbersome. That’s because there’s no need for extensive paperwork, tax structuring, or legal consultations. And this approach can be especially appealing if you’re not looking to commit a significant portion of your time or if you’re new to the world of charitable giving.

Finally, simple gifting affords you flexibility because you’re not tied to long-term commitments or obligations. This means you can respond to evolving needs, shift your focus as you learn more about yourself and your giving effort, or adjust your giving based on your personal circumstances.


But what if you’re thinking bigger?

Well, that’s where philanthropy comes into play.

But, hold on, aren’t gifting and philanthropy the same thing?

Well, the truth is that philanthropy often goes beyond sporadic acts of charity. That’s because it demands a more intentional, strategic approach.

Here, you’re not just donating your money, you’re often actively partnering with causes, leading both with your resources and your voice, and aiming for a long-term change.

Now, this philanthropic approach might involve creating scholarships, funding specific research projects, or even setting up institutions to ensure that the causes close to your heart are being supported the way you want them to be.

Philanthropy also provides you the opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded individuals or institutions. This isn’t just about pooling financial resources but also about sharing knowledge, expertise, and vision.

And so, through these collaborations, your efforts can be amplified, leading to results that you might not achieve alone.

Another aspect to consider is the legacy you leave behind. With philanthropy, you have the chance to create enduring institutions or initiatives.

How so?

Well, you can think of scholarships, research centers, or community programs that can benefit for generations to come. And, while simple gifting might address present needs, philanthropy allows you to plant seeds for a future you might not even witness.

Overall, the key difference between gifting and philanthropy is a higher level of commitment.

Effective Altruism

Now, when it comes to varying levels of giving commitment, effective altruism takes philanthropy a step further.

How so?

Well, with effective altruism, every penny, every moment, every ounce of your talent is directed towards making the most quantifiable difference in causes that matter most to you.

Here, it’s not just about doing good, but about doing the most good you possibly can. So then, for those of you who want to deeply engage and ensure that your contributions lead to measurable impacts, this is the route to consider.

And what exactly is effective altruism?

Well, at its core, effective altruism challenges you to think not just about how to do good, but how to do the most good with the resources you have available.

It adds a layer of analytical rigor to philanthropic giving, and encourages you to evaluate and prioritize causes based on their potential for a quantifiable impact.

And so, how is effective altruism different from the other approaches? Well, while simple gifting might be driven by a desire to make an immediate impact or a desire to address a present need, and philanthropy might look at broader systemic change and legacy, effective altruism encourages you to merge your heart’s desires with your head’s reason.

How so?

Well, imagine that you’re faced with various causes and organizations that you can support. What effective altruism does is that it helps guide your decision-making by emphasizing evidence and effectiveness of your chosen cause.

Now, this is important because instead of spreading your resources thinly or being influenced by the most compelling narrative, you’re encouraged to concentrate your efforts where they can make the most significant difference. It’s a philosophy that melds the passion of giving with the discipline of data and research.

Moreover, effective altruism pushes you to constantly reassess and refine your giving strategy. Now, this is crucial because the world of charitable giving is vast and varied, and new information and research constantly emerge.

And so, by adhering to the principles of effective altruism, in effect what you’re doing is committing to a path of continuous learning, adapting, and evolving your approach based on the latest evidence and understanding.

Choosing Your Level of Commitment

So then, how can you determine your level of commitment?

Well, when it comes to your giving strategy, think about whether you merely want to make a simple gift, whether you’re looking to take an active, strategic role in philanthropy, or whether you’re leaning towards the all-encompassing path of effective altruism.

Then, once you’ve identified your desired level of commitment, align it with the right approach. Whether it’s a simple donation, a strategic philanthropic partnership, or an analytical altruistic commitment, make sure your intentions and actions are ultimately in alignment.

Remember, the key is to find a method that resonates with you and feels right for you, given your time, talent, and treasures.

Section 3: Build Your Giving Strategy

Alright, so now that you’ve honed in on your “why” and have identified how you want to give of your treasures, now, the pressing question is: where exactly do you find the right causes that align with your goals and intentions?

Well, there are often a number of ways to identify where to give your money. You can ask friends, passively look for causes in your community or respond to adverts that come in the mail.

With that said, however, you’re likely to make a more effective dent in the universe if you narrow your giving shortlist by using objective data.

Indeed, as you get going, it’s essential to approach your giving process with the mindset of an investigator. Here again, you’re not just looking for a place to donate, you’re searching for a partner in your altruistic journey.

Now, there are a number of tools and resources out there that offer transparency and insights into various charities and non-profits.

But for the purpose of today’s discussion, we’ll focus by narrowing down your search on relevant websites that rate and review these organizations.

And, so, what are these resources?

Well, websites like Charity Navigator or GiveWell provide extensive data on the effectiveness, transparency, and impact of various charitable and non-profit institutions out there.

Indeed, when you turn to websites like Charity Navigator and GiveWell to inform your charitable giving, you’re tapping into a rich reservoir of research and expertise. These platforms can play a crucial role in enhancing your giving experience, no matter if you’re leaning towards simple gifting, broader philanthropy, or the results-focused approach of effective altruism.

For example, while Charity Navigator focuses on aspects like financial health and accountability of charities, GiveWell hones in on cost-effectiveness and evidence of impact. This kind of insight ensures that you’re directing your resources to organizations that are not only responsible with the resources you give, but are also effective at using it to help those in need.

Imagine the time you’d spend sifting through countless charities, trying to determine their legitimacy or impact. These platforms handle that daunting task for you. Their evaluations and analyses help streamline your decision-making, giving you more time to focus on the causes you’re passionate about.

Another thing to consider is that charities and non-profit entities evolve over time, which can have an impact on their effectiveness, management, and overall impact.

So then, it’s heartening to know that platforms like Charity Navigator and GiveWell don’t remain static because they continually update their evaluations, providing you with the freshest data to make a more informed decision with your giving.

Finally, beyond the rankings and numerical evaluations, you’ll find a treasure trove of articles, insights, and resources on these websites. This knowledge base can further inform and refine your approach to giving, helping you become not just a donor but a well-educated giver.

How to Give Your Money Away with Peace of Mind

You know, when it comes down to it, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer number of charitable options before us, especially when giving takes center stage during the holidays.

Nevertheless, remember that it’s not about the quantity, but the quality of your contributions that counts.

Indeed, it’s about ensuring that your generosity truly counts and creates an impact on the world around you. So then, rather than getting lost in the maze of options, take a step back and reflect on what resonates most with you, your values, and your capacity to give, whether it’s your time, talents or treasures.

And so, by being intentional and strategic with your contributions, you not only amplify the effects of your generosity but also nurture a deeper sense of fulfillment towards the causes that matter most to you.

After all, giving isn’t just a seasonal act, it’s a lifelong process.

So then, as the holiday lights twinkle and the festive spirit fills the air, take a moment to strategize, align with your purpose, and give in a way that leaves a lasting legacy, but most importantly, one that takes you one step closer to becoming the master of your financial independence journey.