What is Significant Giving?

 In grantmaking

Everyone wants their giving to be significant but how do you do it? Significant giving means having a positive impact for a better community.

First off, look for quality factors in programs you want to give to:

  • Does the program relate to an important issue – Does it do things to fight poverty, or helping kids go to college? Does it have cultural events in the community? Can you see what the money is going to, versus being simply a contribution to a giant budget? Is there evidence of stability, such as little staff turnover, long tenure of leader?
  • Good leaders run good programs – Look at the leadership of a program before you give; leadership is key.
  • Have you heard positive things about the program?

Significance also means good timing in your giving. Give when the money is needed. Don’t prolong the process.

Consider giving money without strings. This is called discretionary giving – letting the leadership of the program decide how to use the money.

Be willing to venture in your giving. This means there is an element of risk. If we want a better community this means we need changes, and change means doing something we haven’t done before: venturing.

Have expectations for your giving. Individuals typically give gifts. A gift is money given without expectations other than to “keep up the work.” Professionals give grants. A grant is money given with an understanding of what the money will do. There is no reason why individuals can’t give grants and we recommend they do.

It is sad that so much giving is done by default “well, nothing else to give to…”  The most exciting giving is when the giver comes across outstanding people doing good work.  If you don’t have time to invest in this discovery process, you can call on people who do this professionally. For 20 years Philanthropic Ventures Foundation (PVF) has searched for and found outstanding people doing good work in the community, and advised donors on their giving.

There are dozens of websites that will try to tell you which program to give to. We don’t use them because they don’t relate to the leadership of the program. Rather, they use metrics to measure success. What they are missing is the leadership factor which is so necessary in deciding whether to support a program.

Philanthropic Ventures Foundation stands ready to help donors customize their giving so that it will have the greatest impact.

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