Many times people ask me how to get on the same page with a family member or spouse when It comes to charitable giving. Or, you may struggle with having the freedom to give when the need arises. If this is the case, you should consider your guiding principles for giving.
After several decades of working with families and managing giving within my own family, I want to share a tool that will simplify your decision making about where and how to give. It’s called My Guiding Principles.
How it works
The tool first asks you to make a decision about how much you want to give during the year. You’ll then set this amount aside in a donor advised fund or separate account. Next, you agree on the amounts to give in three different categories: Spontaneous, Sustaining, and Impact Gifts.
- Spontaneous Gifts are those you give when you see a need. Either spouse (or family member or friend) can give without having to discuss it first because you’ve already agreed on an amount to give in these situations.
- Sustaining and Impact Gifts are a higher range of gift, with more due diligence required before giving. This protects family members so they know how to respond to someone like a major gifts officer when a request for a gift is made.
Let’s look at an example:
One couple’s threshold for a Spontaneous Gift is $1,000. In this scenario, either spouse can write a check to an organization or make a grant from their donor advised fund for $1,000 without having to discuss it first. The family often uses Helping Hands to make grants to individuals who are in need so that they can give in a tax-deductible manner to meet a direct need.
The family’s Sustaining Gift range is $1,000 – $10,000. Their agreed-upon due diligence is: 1) A growing relationship with the non-profit. 2) A commitment to review the organization’s website and/or material about their work.
The family’s Impact Gift range is anything over $10,000. The agreed-upon due diligence is: 1) Visit with the non-profit and gain firsthand experience of their work. 2) Review the financials of the organization. 3) Agreement that large gifts may be given in segments over time.
Talk about it
Regardless of the financial levels you choose, it’s helpful to have a clarifying conversation so expectations can be set in advance. This frees up each family member to respond to God’s leading to give spontaneously. It also allows everyone to talk knowledgeably with a non-profit about what is required before a gift is considered. Your conversation can be a great teaching tool so every family member is equipped to take responsibility for making grants great.
In my own family, we discuss and agree on giving levels before the year starts. This discussion brings clarity and gives freedom for each family member to follow to God’s prompting when a giving opportunity arises.
Use the My Guiding Principles tool to start your conversations and set your parameters today.