I don’t give to charity.

Well, I suppose I do in the technical sense. I give gifts to nonprofit organizations and receive a tax-deduction for it. But that’s not why I give. I give for really specific reasons, to really specific causes.

I like to think of my personal giving not so much as charity but as social change philanthropy. I think more young people; especially those of us that work in nonprofits should begin to frame our personal giving as social change philanthropy.

We all have causes we care about. We all have things we want to see changed in the world – so why aren’t we giving our money to those causes? There are a few specific social justice causes near and dear to my heart – LGBT justice, reproductive rights, racial justice and HIV/AIDS. It is important to me to give to social justice and social change efforts because these groups are often the most underfunded and under-resourced.

I am very careful about where I give my money though. I want to make gifts that are both significant to me as well as have an impact. However tempting it may be to throw $20 at every sob story I hear or every flashy brochure that comes to me in the mail, I don’t – I have a plan.

When I was serving on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Foundation, I prioritized my giving to them. I set aside a portion of my monthly income and had that deducted from my paycheck once a month. If you’re serving on a board, they should be your giving priority. I gave to them because they are organizing local communities every day to protect a woman’s right to choose, they are educating folks about reproductive justice issues and they are changing hearts and minds each and every day.

I give to the foundation I work for because I believe in their mission. I am fully invested in the work we do and I feel strongly that nonprofit staff should make gifts to the groups they work for as often as they can.

I am hesitant to give to national groups, but I do give to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, because they are working to build an LGBT movement that’s inclusive of racial and economic justice and they work in local communities to build our power to win.

And lastly, I ride in and give gifts to the Red Ribbon Ride because this ride supports both direct-service and education/advocacy organizations in the state of Minnesota that work to end social stigma around HIV and ultimately end HIV/AIDS in our state.

I have a giving plan. I know how much of my annual income I can give to nonprofits and I have a list of the nonprofits/causes I want to give to. I also have a “reserve” so I can attend events that friends are hosting for their favorite nonprofits as well as give to the occasional well-played pitch story that comes my way.

Do you have a giving plan? Do you have clear reasons why you give to the groups you give to? If not, why?

It only takes a few minutes to plan your giving. Think about your income for the year and how much of it you can donate. Make a list of causes dear to your heart or nonprofits whose work is making the changes you want to see in the world. Decide how you’ll split the amount you can afford among these groups and stick to it. Nonprofits will appreciate your consistent giving and at the end of each year you’ll have a better sense of what your gifts are accomplishing. Start your personal social change philanthropy plan today.

If you’re looking for more resources on making a giving plan, check out Tracy Gary, her work is terrific! www.inspiredphilanthropy.org

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