- Create a more purposeful philanthropic journey.
- Discover what motivates your giving.
- Make sure your personal and family values are reflected in your giving.
Understanding the purpose of your charitable giving will help guide your decisions throughout your philanthropic journey. Most people find having a “north star” makes giving easier, more joyful and more exciting. To reach this understanding and lay your foundation, it’s useful to articulate your motivations for giving, reflect on your values and identify your goals.
Concisely defined motivations, values and goals also help explain to the world why you give and help others understand whether your goals fit with their initiatives.
When it comes to giving, there are a world of opportunities you could pursue. Following this three-step process will help you weigh your priorities, ground your strategy and set you up for success.1
Step 1: Articulate your motivations for giving.
Your motivations for giving can stem from many places, including close relationships, your connections in your community, experiences that have impacted you, your perspectives and beliefs, and financial considerations.
Here are some examples of specific motivations to help start your reflection:
- Instill charitable ethics in your family.
- Honor a loved one.
- Deepen relationships through the giving process.
- Aid the next generation in developing core skills.
- Give back to someone who helped you or your family.
- Get involved with your community.
- Receive recognition
- Build a legacy.
- Address a social issue you encountered when traveling.
- Respond to a challenging life experience.
- Reciprocate a pivotal educational opportunity.
- Support another interest or passion project.
- Reflect on your spiritual path.
- Inspire others to give.
- Make a difference in the world.
- Maximize the impact of your wealth.
- Balance wealth with social responsibility.
- Make use of tax benefits.
Articulating and prioritizing your motivations can help you assess whether they align with your current giving. It can also be helpful to discover if your motivations have changed over time — and if there’s something on the horizon that may change them again. Finally, it’s useful to articulate what you’d like your family or the organizations you support to understand about your motivations so they can help sustain your vision for giving in the future.
Step 2: Reflect on your values.
Values reflect our approach to life and shape our connections to one another. You may have a wide range of values, and prioritizing them can be challenging. Meaningful examination — which often involves thoughtful conversation — can help you come up with a list that is individualized and genuine.
Here are a few examples of value statements to get you started:
• We value integrity and being open and honest in all dealings.
• We believe in the importance of lifelong learning.
• We have a strong commitment to fairness and equity.
• We value health and the ability to choose between quality care options.
• We believe in the importance of unity.
• We have a strong commitment to effectiveness.
• We value creativity and innovation.
• We believe in the importance of working together for a shared purpose.
• We have a strong commitment to security and peace.
• We value diversity, both in terms of demographics and in terms of worldviews.
Once you’ve identified your top values, consider whether they’re reflected in your current giving. You may also want to explore how they differ from those who are involved in giving with you, and how your values have shifted over time. Thoughtful examination can lead to a more authentic and meaningful connection with loved ones and the organizations that you choose to support.
Step 3: Identify your goals.
What would you like to accomplish with your philanthropy? Examples of goals for giving could include working to achieve a clean energy future over the next decade, becoming more knowledgeable about the field of philanthropy over the next six months or bonding over deep discussions with your children. As these examples suggest, goals can be vastly different in both scale and timeline.
Here are some ideas to help you identify your philanthropic goals:
What do you hope to accomplish in the world?
Consider previous highlights and challenges from your charitable history as you contemplate this.
What do you hope to accomplish personally?
Remember to factor in your risk tolerance and your preferred level of involvement.
What do you hope to accomplish through the participation of others?
Think about who else you want to engage in your giving, now and in the future.
For all your goals, it’s helpful to have a timeline in mind. What would you like to achieve within the next year, the next three years and in the long term? A timeline can help you prioritize and determine your course of action.
The work of examining your motivations, values and goals as they relate to your philanthropy is ongoing; you’ll want to revisit and revise throughout your journey. In the future, you and others participating in your philanthropy can look back, recognize how your giving has evolved and continue to refine it.
If you’d like to explore these topics in more depth, please reach out to your First Republic advisor for our complete Philanthropy Workbook. We’d be honored to be a part of your philanthropic journey.
1 The three steps were adapted from exercises in the First Republic Philanthropy Workbook and designed to deepen your understanding of the purpose of your philanthropy.