Get a jump on your charitable giving budget

Whether it's January, May, or September, it's always a good time to check in on your budget.

So how do you factor in your charitable giving? To get started, consider planning your social impact budget around three points—amount, timing, and category.

1. How much? That’s the $64 question. Or more, depending on your budget. The first thing to keep in mind when setting a budget for supporting your favorite causes is that giving money isn’t the only way to do good. If your wallet is tight, if your corporate budget is lean, or if your interests are varied, consider other social impact activities such as volunteering, serving on a board, donating gently-used clothing, purchasing products that support a cause, marketing your favorite charities through social media, and more. It all counts. Set your social impact budget based on what makes sense for you and your family or your company. 

2. How often? Charities are looking for support all year round. The vast majority of charitable contributions are made during the holiday season, but you don’t have to do it that way. Consider spreading your giving throughout the year. Your tax deduction is unaffected, and you’ll be giving the organizations you support a much-appreciated boost to cash flow.

3. Who gets it? Most people support a wide variety of charities. To see where your dollars, time, and energy are going, try sorting the organizations you support into the major categories of social impact:

  • Community Development

  • Arts & Culture

  • Children & Families

  • Health & Life Sciences

  • Education

Keep in mind that religious giving frequently falls into one of these five categories, depending on your gift’s purpose.

Budgeting for social impact can be as easy as 1, 2, 3. You’ll love watching the numbers come alive as you celebrate the causes you love the most.


1. Item 1 in this article is designed to deliver the message that "your community foundation Is for you." A common concern of donors is that they are either too big or too small to set up a donor-advised fund with you. "Too big" and "too small" are relative terms, as we know! Some donors think $1 million is too small; others think $20,000 is too big. Your development team needs the opportunity to qualify the prospects. So, by signaling that every gift matters, you are casting a wide net around prospective donors. What's the action step here? Share this article with your donor relations and development teams so that all of you are coordinating a messaging strategy to cast that wide net.   

2. Item 2 in this article is designed to encourage donors to establish donor-advised funds throughout the year, not just in December. Use language like "it's always a good time to give" when you post this article on social media, and then repeat the message when you amplify the article through shares and likes. 

3. Item 3 in this article is a platform for you to share your community investment initiatives in the context of your donor-focused outreach. Post this article and then follow up with "ideas for smart investments" in each of the categories listed. Or, even better, substitute the cut and paste categories with your community foundation's own leadership initiatives and post follow-up articles about each one. Always link back to the original article to connect the dots to your donor engagement strategies.