What’s Your Charitable Giving Strategy?


So what’s your charitable giving strategy? After all, we all have the opportunity to create impact in life. And giving back is a big part of how we show kindness and create community.

And since kindness and community are two of my core values, I’ve built giving back into what I do at Lighthouse. Because, together we can create change and make an impact.

But, there are so many worthwhile causes that pull on both our wallets and our heartstrings. Whether from friends fundraising for meaningful charities, organizations requesting donations or the most recent trend of rallying through go fund me accounts for those in need – it can be overwhelming.

So let’s get started on deciding what your charitable giving strategy looks like.

The Charitable Bandwagon

And that doesn’t even take into consideration the holiday season campaigns that hit us hard emotionally.  CanadaHelps, a national online fundraising platform receives 36% of annual charitable donations in December, and over 5% on December 31st alone. 

Obviously, the lure to jump on the charitable bandwagon is powerful but a year-round plan provides an opportunity to reflect on what means most to you. Whether from a personal perspective or as a business strategy, here are some ideas to make ‘giving back’ a manageable philanthropic strategy annually.  Whether as a way to unite a team, offer community support or showcase company values, here are ways to extend your altruism.

Craft a Charitable Plan

First step is to select causes that resonate.  For a business, it could be directly tied to your industry.  For example, a veterinarian may choose to donate to the local animal shelter.  However, it is perfectly acceptable to choose the Canadian Cancer Society if you have lost a loved one to this disease.

Secondly, set an annual budget for charitable donations and stick to it.  Add an amount for ‘miscellaneous’ causes to support friends and family that might be raising money for a good cause that comes your way unexpectedly.

Lastly, set a donation schedule that corresponds with your profits. If the first quarter of every year is a more profitable time, donate more at that time. 

Get Those Charitable Tax Benefits

People apparently leave a lot of charitable tax credits sitting on the table.  In fact, Canadians taking advantage of charitable tax credits plummeted from 29.5 to 21.95 per cent from 1990 to 2013, and less than six million people claim the federal Charitable Donation Tax Credit each year despite the fact that about 24 million of us (about 85% of Canadians) make an annual financial donation to charity.

When you make a charitable donation in Canada you get both federal and provincial tax credits, with combined incentives of up to 53 per cent available.  On the federal level, you’ll receive a 15 per cent non-refundable tax credit for the first $200 you donate then 29 per cent for all donations beyond the $200 threshold.  On top of that, each province offers its own tax incentives that vary depending on where you live. To calculate your own charitable tax credit, use this CanadaHelps tax calculator.

Charity Isn’t Always About Money

Of course, volunteerism is a way to shine kindness too. 

Sharing your expertise through mentorship is a powerful way to lend a hand…. and a brain.  According to a Government of Canada survey, “almost 12.5 million Canadians, the equivalent of 46% of the population aged 15 and over, volunteered for charitable and nonprofit organizations in 2007.” That is an amazing contribution of over 2.1 billion volunteer hours collectively.

The benefits of volunteering are undeniable.  Everything from increased understanding of community needs to developing skills and knowledge to elevated self-worth are deemed as reasons to be involved.  But with huge demands on personal and professional lives, people increasingly report an inability to make commitments of time away from their family and friends.  Adding volunteer work on top of those time constraints is sometimes not a possibility.

Share Your Knowledge

As Winston Churchill said,

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  

The opportunity is to support those around you by sharing your knowledge and there is no better way to do that than through mentorship.  Working one-on-one with an emerging entrepreneur has proven to move them more quickly to successful results.  And while a Women in Leadership Foundation study recently claimed that 87% of Canadians believe mentoring is important, only 19% have a mentor. 

Offering pro bono services to a charitable organization is another way to share your knowledge.  A mere 2.7% of total charitable revenue goes to not-for-profits that are considered small organizations.  That means budgets are stretched thin to acquire professional services vital to their success.  Whether bookkeeping services or human resources knowledge, providing expertise is a substantial way to support them in reaching their mandate.

Strength in Numbers

If you have staff, why not join forces for community causes? Present some not-for-profits with unique causes to your team and build consensus on where they’d like to donate their efforts.  There are endless ways to offer energy to local charities: event support, sorting food for the food bank or helping a housebound individual. And of course, you can choose a charity of choice to be the recipient of team fundraising efforts.

And one more quote before I sign off.

Helen Keller once said,

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness.  It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

TELL ME:  How do you ‘give back’ and is it all a part of your charitable giving strategy?.

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