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It’s sad that many of us only think about charitable giving towards the end of the year. We scramble to throw our money into whatever organizations we can find right before the end of the year in order to solidify those financial contributions as tax write-offs when we are forced to fill out the dreaded tax forms come April.

This chaotic approach to charitable giving could hinder the impact your donations have to truly make a difference. For the thoughtful givers who procrastinate yet don’t simply give of their money solely for the tax breaks, reflecting on how and why you can give throughout the year will be more meaningful for both you and the money you are giving away.

In order to discourage this mentality, it would prove advantageous for individuals to approach their charitable giving like they would their investments.

Charitable Giving Vs. Strategic Giving

When we really delve into what charitable giving looks like, it is often quite hands-off and short-term. An individual researches a charity that seems to represent a good cause, writes a check, and their money is then used to further the mission of said charity. More often than not, after that money is taken from their bank account, there is no tracking being done to see where that money went or how it was used.

Strategic giving requires more planning and, therefore, is more intentional. Individuals who dedicate time to thinking through their contributions are the ones who learn more about the charities they are giving to. They are mindful about the way in which they give, whether that is through cash or their other assets. They are often the ones that do more than just give financially, taking time out of their schedules to volunteer their time as well.

To make your financial contributions the most impactful, ask yourself these 3 questions before you give:

What am I passionate about?

This is your money, use it to benefit a cause you are passionate about. This requires a more in-depth analysis into the charities you are considering donating your money to, rather than just going with the first one you can find due to time restrictions.

How can this turn into a long-term relationship?

Once you determine the organization(s) you wish to support, build a relationship with them. Pledge that you will support them for years to come. While this doesn’t lock you into giving a certain amount per say, it will help you plan out your future giving, which will ensure you aren’t continuing your streak of last-minute donations.

How can I diversify for the greatest impact?

During your research, you are going to find a variety of similar charities that may stand out to you. Depending on the amount you have to give, it may be better to diversify your donations by distributing them across various organizations. Of course, be careful not to spread your donations too thin – this will be dependent upon your specific situation.