How to Maximize the Impact of Your Charitable Giving

Quick Look

  • Consider your values and the areas you want to focus your charitable contributions
  • Research the organizations you’re considering through reputable vetting sources (listed below)
  • Consider the best methods to donate including direct donations (i.e. cash), appreciated stock, real estate and more
  • If you’re focused on donating through your estate or another similar vehicle, it’s best to discuss this with a professional first


Giving with Intention

As previously discussed, a money mindset focused on gratitude will naturally lend itself to thinking about how you can give back. And when you’ve reached financial abundance, one of the most effective ways to give back, is to give to charity. (You can also consider impact investing if you’re looking to generate financial returns alongside achieving your philanthropic goals.)

Based on your values and interest areas, you likely have a sense of the things that matter to you and the areas you want to impact. Then, If you don’t already have particular organizations in mind – or even if you do – it’s worth conducting a little bit of research on the organizations you’re considering. You want to make sure your contributions are having the impact you’re looking for. 

Finally, you’ll want to consider the best way to make an impact. For example, apart from setting up recurring donations or making a significant one-time donation, you can also set up trusts and other vehicles that will pass on your contributions once you die.

Let’s explore all three topics a bit further.

Start with Values

If you want to make and impact and feel good about it, you need to start by answering this basic question.

Before you even start researching organizations, take a moment to consider your values. What truly matters to you? If you could wave a magic wand and solve a problem, what would it be? In the notes section above, or on a piece of paper, list the top five or ten areas you would consider focusing your contributions on. For example this might include the environment, education, health, poverty, opportunity etc.

Once you’ve listed your focus areas, think about how connected you want to be to your contributions and impact. Are you comfortable contributing to a broad-based cause with a long-term (or even never ending) vision, knowing that every little bit of contribution counts? Or would you prefer to see more direct impacts from your contributions, knowing precisely that you helped conserve a particular ecosystem, provided educational opportunities to a particular group or even individual, for example.

By starting with your areas of interest, how connected you want to be to your charitable contributions, and understanding how your level of wealth (and therefore ability to financially contribute) can make a difference, you will have a clearer sense of where to start your research.

What to Consider When Researching Charitable Organizations

If you want to ensure your money is really being put to good use, you’ll want to start by vetting the charities or nonprofits on your shortlist.

Researching the organizations on your list will help you feel confident you’re making good choices for your donations.

Well-known organizations that can help you verify charitable organizations include GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and Charity Watch. Each of these organizations has a slightly different take on their validation process, what they report, how they rank them etc. Generally, you’ll be able to find charity profiles, publicly available information about the organizations from the IRS, navigate charities by category, and more.

Additionally, through, the Better Business Bureau provides a concise and clear snapshot of registered charities and nonprofits. And, if you want to make 100% sure that your contributions will be tax-deductible, you can go straight to the source and use the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search tool.

Ways to Donate

The most common way to donate to charities is through direct donations. Typically, you can easily do this directly through a charity’s website. If you’re considering a very large donation, you may want to contact the charity directly and determine what makes the most sense.

If you happen to still be working or affiliated with a company, check to see if they offer a matching gift program. Many companies will match your charitable donations up to several thousands of dollars each year. 

Donating appreciated stock, real estate, or even land are also ways you can make contributions. In these cases you’ll want to work with the charity directly to see how they can accept these.

If you’re interested in making charitable contributions a part of your estate, or are particularly interested in how you can maximize the tax benefits of your charitable contributions, you’ll want to talk to a tax professional, Certified Financial Planner, or Estate Attorney. They may have you consider setting up vehicles like a Donor-Advised Fund, Charitable Remainder Trust, or simply updating your will.


If you’ve done a thorough job considering your values, the areas you want to impact, the organizations you want to support, and the ways to leverage your resources to execute your donations, you’re sure to feel good about your charitable contributions. 

Remember, money is never good or bad. Money is simply a resource or a tool that can be leveraged in a variety of ways. Now that you’re in a state of financial abundance, you have a great opportunity to leverage your money with purpose to create the change you want to see.

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