Giving plan series: #4 Evaluate charities and start granting

Now that you know why, how much, and what to give, the next question is … where? With money in your Giving Fund, you’re ready to start granting to charities.

You probably have one or more causes that you’ve already decided to support – perhaps your local church or a missionary working at home or abroad. But you also probably have other needs that God is calling you to for the first time, such as ending modern-day slavery or helping young couples adopt. Whether you’re granting $100 or $100,000, you want your dollars to go as far as possible … to change more lives and make the biggest possible impact.

Of course, that typically doesn’t just happen on its own. Giving effectively involves thoughtful planning and organization. It involves making careful decisions about where your grants will do the most good.

In your giving mission statement from Step 1, you discovered the categories you’re most passionate about supporting. Now it’s time to evaluate the charities doing the best work within those categories. Instead of just picking a non-profit whose name you’ve heard several times before, relying solely on a friend to share his/her “favorites,” or responding spontaneously to a direct-mail flier … a more thoughtful, strategic approach can yield far better results.

Here are some helpful points to consider from professional advisor and author Alan Gotthardt, from his book The Eternity Portfolio.

  1. Purpose – What is the organization’s reason for existence? Is the mission compelling, clear, and well-defined? What makes it unique?
  2. People – Are the leaders passionate or half-hearted? Are the board members invested financially? Are the staff members high-energy? Do they have a sense of purpose?
  3. Philosophy – Are they innovative, or are they always in crisis mode? How do they approach decision-making? Is there a sense of accountability?
  4. Performance – What measurable objectives do they use to gauge their effectiveness? What goals have been reached lately? Do they have a history of success? If it’s a new ministry, does the founder exhibit these qualities?
  5. Process – Is there a well-designed ministry plan? Is the organization tracking progress and working towards clearly defined goals? Does any research exist to support that their work is achieving the desired results?

As Step 5 will tell you, there are times when God calls you to fund a ministry, regardless of your answers to the questions above. And the advice and preferences of friends and family are good perspectives to take into account as well. But as a general rule, when evaluating where to grant, it’s wise to combine the critical thinking that comes from answering the questions above with the purpose and passions you discovered about yourself in Step 1.

And just like in financial investing, the larger the amounts, the larger the stakes. If you’re granting $10,000, $100,000, or even more from your Giving Fund to a charity, you should spend even more time and effort to ensure that you’re on the right course. Yet professional advisor and nonprofit expert Calvin Edwards says most people don’t do this. “Major gifts are the least researched major purchases that most families make every year,” Edwards says.

With this in mind, be diligent to combine prayer, reflection, and good due diligence when it comes to your grants, and you’ll experience greater peace of mind knowing that you’ve done all you can to steward God’s resources in the wisest possible way.

Then, you’re ready to request grants from your Fund to charities. Here are a few reminders:

  • To create a new grant, log in to your Giving Fund and click the “Grant” button at the top.
  • You can also search for a charity using a key word or the pull-down menu of causes and then tap or click the green GRANT buttons in your search results.
  • On the Grant to a charity page itself, you can request a one-time grant or set up a recurring schedule so grant checks will be sent to your favorite charities automatically.

 


 

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