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Building Your Charitable Giving Strategy: The Who, What, When, Where and Why

Whether you are a longtime Denver resident or just starting to learn about the community, you may find yourself looking for ways to give back.

The Moss family chose to work with Rose Community Foundation on their legacy planning

There are many issues facing our local community – from affordable housing and education to economic development – and many nonprofit organizations are working on these topics. It can be tough to know where to get started and how to make the greatest impact. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create an effective philanthropic giving strategy:

Define your purpose (the why):

Explore the meaning behind your giving: Begin by reflecting on your personal values and beliefs. What issues are most important to you? What experiences in your own life have influenced how you see the world and want to impact your community? Giving can be focused on advancing a specific cause, a connection to a specific organization, leaving a legacy, or supporting the place where you live. Understanding your core values will help you align your giving with your passions.

Set clear goals: Determine what you want to achieve through your philanthropy. Are you looking to make a significant impact on a single issue, or do you want to support a variety of causes? Setting clear goals will guide your giving decisions.

Learn about your community (the where):

Do your research: Some donors like to use data-driven tools like GuideStar. Another great resource for information on nonprofits is your local community foundation. Rose Community Foundation has deep, trusted relationships in the seven-county Greater Denver region and can help advise you on organizations doing work that may be of interest. Whether you prefer your giving to have an impact locally, statewide or nationally, the Rose Community Foundation staff can help you navigate the nonprofit landscape and choose organizations that are the best fit.

Develop a giving timeline (the when):

Plan ahead…: The end of the year is a popular time for charitable giving – it’s a great idea to support a local nonprofit on Colorado Gives Day – but nonprofit organizations also need your support year-round. Determine when you’ll make your donations throughout the year, maybe tied to an anniversary or other special date. Setting up a recurring pledge is an easy way to automate your giving. You can also give to a nonprofit’s endowment fund to help them build for the future.

…But also, be adaptable: Be open to adjusting your giving strategy over time based on changing circumstances, new opportunities or unexpected emergencies. Recent Colorado events – like the unanticipated arrival of hundreds of migrants to the Denver area – demanded an immediate community response where individual donations were critical.

Teacher and student volunteering with Mirror Image Arts, a participatory theatre program in the Denver area

Identify recipients and partners (the who):

Connect with nonprofits: Establish relationships with the organizations working on the issues you care about. Subscribe to their newsletter, attend their events, volunteer your time, and engage in open communication to better understand their work. Once you have a list of potential nonprofit recipients, narrow it down to a few organizations or causes that resonate with you the most.

Explore collaboration: Consider collaborating with other donors by hosting a giving circle, where individual donors pool their collective resources and then choose where to give their dollars, thereby having a greater impact. Rose Community Foundation has an easy-to-use guide for hosting your own giving circle.

Choose your giving methods (the what):

Give now or later. A donation in any amount is always of value to nonprofits, and the team at Rose Community Foundation can also help you give non-cash donations like stocks, real estate or other appreciated assets. You can also leave a legacy gift to a nonprofit in your will or estate plan, helping to ensure they can continue their important work for generations to come.

Members of Generation Now, a Rose Community Foundation giving circle

Consider a charitable giving account. A donor-advised fund at Rose Community Foundation gives you the flexibility to support nonprofits of your choosing at any time. Receive the maximum tax deduction when you contribute to your fund and then recommend grants throughout the year. The Foundation manages all tax and administrative functions, reporting and compliance.

Regardless of how you choose to approach your giving, it helps to have a trusted partner that can advise you on nonprofit organizations and work with you to build a philanthropic strategy. The staff at Rose Community Foundation are available to assist with your giving needs. And whether you give of your time, talent or treasure, know that local nonprofit organizations value and appreciate your care.