by David Aft

In my last blog, I covered timing your charitable gifts to make the greatest impact for the beneficiary organizations you’ve chosen to help. Today, my focus is on how to give—the best way to optimize your charitable contributions and get the most bang for your bucks. Here are a few notes to consider.

– Give larger donations to fewer organizations. It’s great to give $100 to ten organizations, but it may be smarter from a “charitable value” perspective to give $500 to two worthy organizations or one significant $1,000 contribution. Larger, well-thought-out donations will probably do more good than several smaller gifts. This makes for harder decisions on your part, but it is a reality.

– Consider making periodic payments (monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly). Based on my experience managing and assisting nonprofit organizations, I know that a steady flow of donations during the year helps the monthly cash flow and adds to the long-term sustainability and success of organizations. And face it—it’s easier on your pocketbook to make twelve monthly $100 donations to a charity than it is to write one big $1,200 check at the end of the year. In today’s world of easy online banking, it only takes a minute to setup a regular payment schedule directed to your favorite charitable groups. Set up your automatic payments in January, and be done with it.

– Use your employer’s payroll deduction program. Payroll deduction is another easy way to give. Money is automatically deducted from your check by your employer, pooled together, and sent to the organization(s) you’ve selected. Again, recurring payroll deductions allow you to spread out your charitable gifts over the course of a year, which makes your donation more manageable and helps keep a steady stream of cash going to the nonprofit of your choice. And did you know that hundreds of companies across the country match their employees’ contributions to qualified charities? Some match donations dollar for dollar, so a $500 gift becomes a $1,000 gift. Ask your human resources representative if your company offers charitable gift matching, and if so, find out what rules apply.

I consider my willingness and ability to “give back” an honor, a privilege, and a blessing, but it doesn’t stop with the generosity in my heart. Just like others, I seek value in my charitable giving decisions. I encourage all prospective donors to consider not just who they give to, but when they give and how they give. In my next blog post, I’ll address how to avoid scams in your charitable endeavors. Stay tuned.

David Aft is the president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. He has worked in the nonprofit field for over twenty-five years and is a recognized resource and noted speaker on charitable enterprise, civics, fundraising strategy and community development.