Our Giving Model & Philosophy

We encourage donors to engage in "purposeful giving" to give more, and give more effectively.

Giving is hard. We seek to simplify high-impact, generous philanthropy and make it accessible to everyone.

Our Purposeful Giving Model is a series of actionable, repeatable steps to help donors grow in their generosity and achieve greater impact in their giving.

The lynchpin is a personal, purposeful commitment of resources to a donor-advised fund, along with a commitment to deploy those resources to charities most effectively aligned to personal values of good.

We believe being purposeful about giving can unlock generosity, impact, and a richer life story for any donor.

Charityvest's donor-advised funds make it easy to fulfill your commitment to giving via recurring gifts from income, or donating cash or stock from your personal holdings.

We think purposeful giving looks like this:

  1. 📋 Pledge boldly. Make a personal pledge of income or assets to charity. It doesn't matter if it's big or small. It's important to simply set a target goal or budget for your giving.

  2. 💸 Commit $ to a DAF wisely. Fulfill your pledge via a donor-advised fund when it makes the most tax / financial sense. Irrevocably commit assets or cash to charity by donating into the DAF.

  3. 📝 Define the good you want to create. Discover and define the impact you want to achieve in the world with your giving. It's most effective to write it down.

  4. 💰 Support charities effectively. Look for charities, leaders, and projects you believe are most aligned with your conviction of good.

  5. 🤝 Find community. Find other donors and leaders you believe in and want to work alongside. Partner with them deeply.

  6. 🔄 Iterate. Keep going through this process over time, updating your commitments and relationships.

This enables both (1) giving more through purposeful commitments, and (2) giving better through more purposeful decisions.

We've seen this model yield impact for donors of all sizes, and it creates excitement around giving and its potential role in the life story of donors.

Below we unpack some of the philosophical positions that have led us to this model and our focus on donor-advised funds as a tool.

The Philosophical Underpinnings of our Giving Model

We believe giving is good

We believing giving is good for you and good for the world. Giving enables you:

  • To have a healthier relationship with money. It helps you practice gratitude and perspective, seeing money as a tool, not an end unto itself.

  • To have an impact on the world. It helps you write a deeper story about your life and participate in the grand project of human flourishing. We can have more impact than we think.

  • To enhance your relationships. There's nothing like a cause to bring people together. Whether it's family, friends, or the leaders within the nonprofits you support, giving can connect people on a deep level.

Do you want your life story to be about your wealth, or about what impact you had with your talents and resources? The data says the latter is a much better path to sustained happiness.

We believe giving is harder than it should be

Questions of how much to give, tax implications, which organizations to give to, or whether giving will have any impact make us reluctant to engage in giving.

This makes giving hard to cultivate in our lives. Most giving tools and models exist to make individual giving transactions easy. None address making giving a regular part of your life.

We believe purposeful philanthropy helps you give more

Purposeful philanthropy is the process of giving to charity based on commitments like pledges and budgets.

Behavioral economists call these types of behaviors pre-commitments and commitments. They are useful when there's something you want to achieve, but that outcome faces opposition from your natural behavioral patterns. They are especially useful in life flourishing categories like fitness and money. Examples:

  • Telling all your friends you're going achieve a specific health goal (e.g., lose weight)

  • Paying for a year-long gym class or membership upfront

  • Regulating your phone screen time with an app and having a friend own the password override

These types of patterns make our bad habits more costly, and good habits cheaper. They can help us achieve a better life. Here are more examples.

Giving can leverage this behavioral insight. A giving commitment that leads to a giving habit, we believe, can help you give significantly more over your lifetime. And that trajectory shift can change your life story.

When Charityvest did its own nationwide primary research, it found donors who had a budget or total lifetime giving goal gave 5-10x more than those who didn't, even controlling for wealth indicators.

Furthermore, separating the tax-deductible donation (a contribution) from the gift to charity (a grant) allows you to think more purposefully about your giving:

  • How much can I afford to give in total, as part of my financial plan and budget?

  • How can I optimize the tax implications of my charitable giving?

  • How can I time my charitable giving so that it fits with my life?

  • How can I use assets, instead of cash, to make the most of my giving?

We believe purposeful philanthropy helps you give better

The biggest way to increase the impact of the charitable sector is to direct more resources toward the more effective charities/projects. In other words, improve the decisions of donors in which charities and projects they support.

Having a mechanism to act on giving commitments (continue your giving pattern) without having to make urgent commitments to specific charities to receive tax-advantaged status enables time to be your ally on effective giving. A donor-advised fund yields the tax advantages of putting money to charity while empowering donors to be more deliberate about which charities/projects to support as they get exposed to opportunities, gain experience as givers, and talk to other donors who are further on their giving journey.

But doesn't this slow down support for charities who need it? No, not for effective charities and projects. As donors get excited about effective charitable opportunities, they should give more boldly, establishing a healthy velocity of money through their giving fund.

We hear our donors say DAFs enable them to freely support great charitable opportunities without any friction because they have already navigated the personal finance and tax decisions upfront.

Seeing progress feeds the cycle of generosity in your life

Whenever a donor is able to experience how their commitment to giving is enabling them to partner with meaningful impact work, it activates oxytocin in the brain and enables donors to feel the delight of living a life oriented on others. This is the virtuous cycle of generosity.

The more and better a person gives, the more likely they are to experience the benefits of giving, and thus increasing the likelihood they will want to be more generous in the future.

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