board-776688_960_720Philanthropy is a hot topic these days. The subject of charity has even sparked think pieces and research projects from media and scholars to understand the science behind giving. Yet, the idea itself a rather broad concept, with an equally broad level of responsibility for participants. By that, I mean there are a number of issues throughout the world which call for attention and, many times, assistance from those who can help. However, deciding where to give, how much to give, and when, are relevant questions which have grown in popularity, as more people begin focusing on the impact of their donations and similar efforts. Of course there is no one answer to each of those questions, but there are a few things individuals can do to make their philanthropy more meaningful.

That’s dependent on a number of factors. The IRS deadline for honoring charitable donations is the last day of the year or December 31. As such, many have made it a point to give during that time, in tandem with the spirit of the holidays as well. However, it is possible to give anytime before then as well. In fact, some organizations make an event out of giving, with banquets or drives, etc. If that is the case for your chosen organization, it makes sense to give during the event. Furthermore, there are times in which nonprofits will have their own deadlines by which they want to reach a certain goal. Be cognizant of important dates, especially if your intent is to make an impact in the best way possible.

There are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the country, and that doesn’t include those which haven’t applied for status nor organizations around the world which support particular causes. Thus, choosing where to give money (or volunteer) requires a lot of thought. First, determine what you’re passionate about. Is there a particular cause that moves you or which you discuss with others as a form of advocacy? If so, people often choose their charitable focus from personal experience or direct exposure to a given problem. For example, growing up impoverished may inspire giving money to causes related to childhood hunger; or perhaps a family member has passed as a result of an illness, and your goal is to fund a cure for that disease. Regardless of your choice, following this process will help you narrow down the focus of your philanthropy. Afterwards, research can be done to compare organizations which meet that criteria.

There are a number of options for making a donation. You can give as a group to maximize the overall size of your contribution and to get others involved, or you can give alone. Even then, you can decide whether you want to make a one-time contribution or multiple donations throughout the year. That choice is dependent on your given charity or charities, and your personal finances. Be sure to give directly to the organization, and keep any receipts for your personal records.

These tips are simply examples of how to navigate the very large world of philanthropy. This list is by no means intended to be a comprehensive guide of any sort. However, I hope it helps and provides a better understanding of giving overall.