The following post was written by my fellow advisor Rick Waechter of Old Peak Finance in Chapel Hill, NC. Thank you to Rick for alerting me to some of these options!
If you spend less time thinking about how to give your money away than how to make it, you’re like a lot of us (Bill and Melinda Gates aside).
But if you have ever wondered whether your charitable giving is having the impact it should, I have a couple ideas.
Two successful, local entrepreneurs have focused my attention on this topic recently. They hold their giving to the same standards they use for investing in their for-profit businesses. They certainly challenged my way of thinking.
One entrepreneur, Dan Swimm, introduced me to Give Well. Give Well identifies non-profits which can have the largest impact with the fewest dollars. Many of its favored charities focus on problems like preventing malaria and promoting de-worming — two examples where a small amount of money can save a life.
Another entrepreneur, David Gardner, makes a different but equally interesting argument. He focuses on non-profits which help people gain employment or start businesses. The theory: teaching a woman to fish beats giving her a fish, but helping her start a fish market is better still, because it can lift up a village. One of his favorites is Opportunity International. They provide micro-loans in developing countries, primarily to women.
Giving is personal. You may be confident your money is well-spent. You may use a website like Charity Navigator or Charity Watch to confirm your favorite non-profits spend resources wisely. You may use a community foundation. You may give your time and skills, not just money. Or you may have a strong bond with your church, synagogue, college alma mater, etc.
But if you haven’t been as careful about your giving as you’d like, make a resolution to do that before the year-end giving season kicks off. Even small donations can have a real impact. You’ll feel great, too.