Exactly one year ago, I wrote a post, Hardwired to Help, which told about our front-row seat in the world of pediatric cancer. My goal was two-fold: to raise awareness about pediatric cancers (September gold), but also to encourage others to find their cause, whatever that might be. A happiness study I referenced in the post showed that helping others can have a positive effect on the body by lowering blood pressure. So what holds people back from giving?
According to a 2016 report by Fidelity Charitable, “Overcoming Barriers to Giving,” 65% of the 3,200 American donors surveyed said they would give more if they understood the impact of their donations. 81% expressed concerns over the transparency and knowing the impact of the donation.
I’ve worked with clients who have struggled with these same issues. It has kept them caught in limbo – wanting to help and knowing that they are failing to act.
For our family, deciding where to give was easy because we had been deeply moved by the work of several organizations that restored our son back to health. It was the fortunate result of an unfortunate situation. Not everyone gets this bird’s eye view.
Finding a mission that you identify with takes time, but it is time well spent. The gratification that comes from knowing your funds have made a difference is priceless.
Volunteering your time to an organization is one of the best ways to see the needs and the impact of the work. It also can give you an idea of a specific project you want to contribute to.
Not everyone has the extra time to volunteer, but simply paying attention to the dedication and work of an organization can open your eyes to giving possibilities. For example, clients of ours had watched their granddaughter thrive in a new school and were so grateful that they donated funds to renovate the playground.
Research tools, such as Charity Navigator offer tips for donors on how to avoid scams and how to give during times of crisis. It also assesses the transparency and impact of different charities. The Center of High Impact Philanthropy offers donors guidance and highlights non-profits that are innovative. They segment charities into very specific areas, such as education, health, democracy, women/girls issues, mental health, poverty and disaster relief, to name a few.
Once you have decided to make giving a priority, reach out to your financial advisor, who can build your contributions into your financial plan and set up a donor-advised fund, which allows for contributions of cash and assets (such as collectibles and investments).
You can overcome the barriers that prevent you from giving. Once you experience the true joy of charitable giving, you will wonder why you waited so long.