Blog Home > Plan > Intentional Giving: Why Strategic Philanthropy Makes a Difference
December 27, 2017
Heather Tuininga

As a former program officer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Heather Tuininga knows the importance of giving strategically.  In her work today as Principal at 10|10 Strategies, she helps givers get more joy and impact out of their giving.  Heather relishes helping people strategically align their giving to achieve outcomes that will make a difference for the Kingdom. In this post, she shares why being intentional about giving can make a bigger difference.

As I walk alongside families in their journeys of generosity, I find myself asking these questions: Why do I think being intentional about giving—“strategic philanthropy”—is so important? Is it because I like to be intentional about things in life and so I want to do my giving that way too? Is it because I think giving with a vision or passion is better than giving just because it’s good for the cause and for me? Is it because I believe we only make a difference if we give strategically?

All of these possibilities are partially true, but a deeper analysis of the costs and benefits of strategic philanthropy are in order. To better understand this, let’s pose strategic philanthropy against what I call “random charity” and see how things shake out:

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As you can see, while my bias is toward strategic philanthropy, both paths can produce beautiful generosity that changes the world.

One last note: there is the possibility of being too strategic, which can result in not being able to meet a more immediate need because it falls outside your strategic focus areas (i.e., a natural disaster in a part of the world you don’t focus on). However, that can be easily solved by using the 80/20 or 90/10 rule: allocate 80-90% of your giving funds in intentional ways on your strategic priorities, and leave 10-20% for the immediate needs or new causes that come up during the year. This will allow you to move the needle on the issues you care about without missing a nudge from the Holy Spirit to give somewhere else along the way.

I’d encourage you to think about your own giving and consider the following questions:

  • How intentional or strategic is your family about giving?
  • If you’re not intentional, what steps can you take to move in that direction?
  • What would it take to implement the 80/20 rule in your giving portfolio?

If Heather’s thoughts resonate with you and you’d like to get more strategic about your personal or corporate giving, she’d love to hear from you. Contact her at:



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