Simple, yet empowering charitable investment ideas

Millions of investments are made on a regular basis, mostly for personal or corporate gain. What if a million investments were made each day for the benefit of the community, country, and world? Just because there’s uncertainty with our economy doesn’t mean it needs to be that way with benevolence. Here are a few charitable investment ideas for you to consider.

  • Invest your time to advance an organization’s mission;
  • Invest in a future leader by mentoring;
  • Invest some money to meet a community need;
  • Invest a smile to brighten another’s day;
  • Invest your professional skills to complete a critical task;
  • Invest your voice to cheer and celebrate;
  • Invest a meal to help feed another;
  • Invest a little sweat to set up an event;
  • Invest an idea to create innovative change;
  • Invest compassion to help others;
  • Invest an invitation to encourage others to join you;
  • Invest your attention toward creative ways of giving;
  • Invest a jacket to warm another;
  • Invest hands to change the world;
  • Just Invest…the list can go on and on

Some of these investments can be measured, others provide intangible results. In all cases, the ROI generated is life changing…for the “investor” and each beneficiary.

If you’re interested or ready to make a charitable investment of any kind, give us a call at 775-333-9444 or email us. Our team at NPcatalyst can help you or your company create an empowering charitable investment strategy, find the ideal charitable organization(s), and embrace your own way of giving.

The role of community foundations

Community foundations are tax-exempt charitable organizations created by and for community members seeking philanthropic leadership and guidance.  These organizations provide a simple, powerful, and highly personal approach to giving. They offer a variety of giving tools to help people achieve their charitable goals.

 

Compared to private foundations

Community foundations resemble private foundations, as both are grantmakers. They are unlike private foundations in that they enlist multiple donors, a constant influx of funds from new donors, and boards that, by law, must represent the community rather than the foundation ‘s primary donors.

Establishing a private foundation or trust takes time—something often in short supply for investors, especially when facing a December 31 deadline. Quite frankly, it only takes one day, sometimes less, to set up a fund at a community foundation.

  

Offer a variety of funds

Community foundations offer a number of funds which provide charitable giving solutions, including, but not limited to:

  • Donor Advised Funds: One of the most popular paths, these funds enable donors to take their time recommending charities to support.
  • Field of Interest Funds: These funds distribute money to charities focused on one specific area.
  • Designated Funds: Designed to distribute funds to one specific charity over time. This ensures that a small charity won’t be overwhelmed by a large donation it can’t handle.

 

Help create charitable giving strategies

Creating a charitable giving strategy involves experience, insight and an understanding of community needs. It also requires the ability to research and evaluate whether non-profit organizations can fulfill their missions effectively and efficiently. Community foundations assist donors with their financial contributions by:

  • Helping donors become more effective donors by providing education and networking with donor-peers.
  • Reducing administrative workloads by offering donor advised funds as an alternative to private foundations.
  • Providing insight about local issues and nonprofits to help maximize the impact of the donation.

 

Similar, but different than non-profit organizations

Community foundations are similar to non-profit organizations, as they seek funds from community members; but unlike non-profit organizations, as they deliver few direct services to the community. Instead, they grant support to non-profits to appropriately deliver community-beneficial services.

Non-profit organizations primarily have one field of interest, as compared to community foundations, which address the well-being of the total community. Non-profit organizations asks donor to support their missions; community foundations serve the interests of the donor, and also accepts unrestricted funds for the general good of the community.

  

Benefits of community foundations

  • Community foundations provide personalized service, helping individuals, families, businesses, and non-profit organizations achieve their charitable and financial goals by offering tools and resources that make giving easy, flexible, and effective.
  • Community foundations are local organizations staffed by people from local communities and led by local boards of trustees. These people have an in-depth knowledge of the issues, opportunities, and resources that shape your community, enabling them to play a key role in solving community problems, while helping donors learn more about local needs in order to make their giving as effective as possible.

 

Helping donors meet their philanthropic goals

Community foundations provide personalize attention to its donors. Some employ staff and most all access philanthropic leaders to help donors learn about community needs, assess giving opportunities, refine charitable goals, and/or create personal giving plans. These leaders can be placed in two primary categories.

  • Professional Advisors – represented by accountants, attorneys, estate planners, financial advisors, and insurance agents, they:
    • Address tax planning needs
    • help with personal investments, charitable goals and needs.
    • Facilitate complex forms of giving and execute technical giving instruments
  • Philanthropic Advisors – represented by leaders and consultants like NPcatalyst, they:
    • Address giving interests and motivations
    • help create charitable giving plans which are integrated into business and personal giving decisions
    • find nonprofits that meet your interests and charitable goals
    • provide in-depth information about non-profits

 

Donors seeking greater philanthropic impact should consider the role of community foundations. A “new” concept when the first was created in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio, it’s now an opportunity found in hundreds of communities. In fact, there are more than 650 community foundations serving urban and rural communities throughout the United States. Collectively, they hold approximately $31 billion in combined assets and make local grants of approximately $2.6 billion annually.

Donors will be hard pressed to find more valuable community stewards, so focused on the improvement of quality of life in local communities.

  

The relationship of community leadership

I’m continually reminded that each person’s interest in volunteering is different. It’s different based on a number of factors, including such things as family upbringing personal surroundings, education, social status, employment, career path, age and personal/professional goals. Each one of us is different, yet we all share something in common…a better world.

Midway through a presentation I was giving on community leadership this evening, I caught myself wondering how each person was interpreting my comments. “What’s their voluntary interest” and “what role does volunteering play in their future” bounced in my head. Most of the audience of aspiring community leaders had very little experience as volunteers, which made my analysis intriguing. Here I was, a person so passionate about community leadership, trying to preach the good word, while conducting an analysis of his audience. It was both exciting and eye-opening.

What I concluded was this: each of us develops personal relationships with his/her own benevolence.

For the person interested in becoming active with the community, the process can be similar to dating. There are many organizations affecting different causes…most all of which are led by caring and dedicated leaders. Based on personal interests, passions, and connections, some organizations will fit more than others. Providing leadership in different ways, from general operations assistance to program/event leadership to skills-based support to board governance, it’s a process of discovery, peaks-valleys, and excitement. And as I shared this evening, it’s similar to romance.

As with dating, some of us will travel the path on our own, without assistance, until we find “the one”…the organization which presents the ideal fit. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that journey.

For others, getting set up (like a blind date) or using a little guidance (like matchmaking) there may be strategy involved. Recognizing the causes which link the greatest interest and passion, and identifying which organizations affect those particular causes, will provide the volunteer-seeker with the right foundation.

There are many organizations in our communities looking for great leaders, who represent diverse backgrounds and bring different skill sets. That’s the excitement that volunteerism brings – you never know how the relationship will look. More than not, it’s all positive, as we’re all seeking greater things for our communities. From where I stand, it’s incredibly rewarding to watch (or help create) successful matches come together – everyone wins – especially those who are ultimately affected by the organization’s missions, programs, and…volunteer leadership.