My Philosophy of Giving

I received an email from a reader at Actually Giving few weeks ago and she mentioned how rarely, as fundraisers, we talk about our own personal giving. Today I want to talk a little about my theories as to why I give, and first thing next week I’ll post where and why I give money.

I prefer to give deeply instead of giving broadly. When I first started in fundraising, I was shocked at how little money people actually gave. I realized that, through my giving to church, I could actually be considered a major donor at most organizations. Giving is about choosing a couple of organizations and making a significant gift. I’m a big advocate for monthly giving as it allows someone to give small gifts throughout the year that add up to one big gift.

In the back of my head, I’ve convinced myself that I’m a great fundraiser. In order for an organization to get money from me, they have to do as good of a job in cultivating me as I think I’m doing with other people. For example I expect to get a thank you letter within a week, if it’s someone I know I appreciate a thank you call or email. I love when I get a thank you letter and it has a little note on it even when the note just says thank you. So I’ve created a bit of a high standard. Because of this I find that it can be difficult for a new organization to acquire me as a new donor.

On Wednesday I’ll give some more specifics about where I give to and why. What is your philosophy of giving? Do you believe that fundraisers should be philanthropists too?


6 Responses to My Philosophy of Giving

  1. Joe Garecht says:


    I’m glad you’re tackling this topic, and in an open way. As a fundraiser, I have often gotten the question, “Well, if you were in my position, how would YOU structure your gift?” It’s important for people to hear that fundraisers and development professionals live this out on a day to day basis as well, and make decisions consistent with their suggestions to prospective donors.


  2. Donna Cook says:

    I work with a small non-profit, we’re all volunteers. I’m also a retired middle school teacher, and in education it is key to “model the appropriate behavior” for your learners., So, yes, I think it is important for fundraisers to model the appropriate behavior and be philanthropists, as well.. How else will people know what to do?

  3. I think it is important for fundraisers to give to organizations other than where they work. It keeps them in touch with the donor experience (the good, bad & ugly), which can inform their own work. Also it just feels good. My major issue is that I don’t have the money to be the philanthropist I would like to be!

  4. Jason says:

    Jeremy- I know exactly what you mean. That is the hardest thing for me too. i can’t event give a token gift of $20 to $50 to every nonprofit that I think is worth it.

  5. Dan says:


    As a fellow fundraiser, I think that I also have high expectations for cultivation and stewardship. Though at times this has been on my mind after making a gift or considering one, I try not to be too hard on the organizations. I tend to take your focused approach with the orgs that are most important to me, though I still leave a bit of my philanthropy budget for causes my friends ask me to support or things that come up.

    Looking forward to more on this topic!

  6. Roger Carr says:

    Hi Jason,
    I believe when you get deliberate and focused with your giving, you go from being giver to being a philanthropist. That includes all ways of giving, not just financial donations. I don’t care much about how much the organization caters to me. I care about whether they share my values and are effective at making an impact on the cause I am passionate about.

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