Three Challenges That Can Disrupt Your Strategic Giving Plan (And How to Handle Them)

Cathy Schnaubelt
March 08, 2019

Like other parts of your financial plan, your strategic giving plan isn’t complete once it’s been implemented. To be effective, you’ll need to continually monitor progress and make adjustments when necessary.

Over the course of your lifetime and beyond, a number of challenges can arise that threaten to disrupt your strategy. Fortunately, a disciplined approach can help you overcome these obstacles to keep your giving plan on track.

1. Receiving Too Many Requests

It’s common to receive a multitude of requests from various charities over the course of the year—and to want to respond favorably to each of them. However, these additional requests can easily distract you from achieving your larger philanthropic goals.

One way to make sure you don’t become too distracted by one-off charitable requests is to create a budget for yearly discretionary donations. Once you’ve established an amount that you can reasonably allocate to additional charitable requests—without disrupting your strategic giving plan—it’s up to you to be honest with the requesting charitable organization when you no longer have enough funds to contribute. If you’re still not comfortable denying them completely, you can ask for them to contact you again next year when your budget resets.

2. Your Strategic Giving Plan Fails

Your philanthropic plan can fail for many reasons. Your funding may not be adequate to achieve the goals you set, the charitable organization you support may not be able to handle your gift or bequest, or the charity may not put the donations it receives to good work. It’s important to have a system to measure the success of your giving program so that you can change course if any of these challenges (or others) occurs.

Remember: failure is not necessarily bad. It can help you avoid the same mistakes when developing a new giving strategy so that you’re more like to achieve your desired results.

3. Your Family Doesn’t Wish to Continue Your Mission

Even if you’ve engaged your family members in the giving process, they may have different philanthropic goals that they wish to pursue with the family’s wealth. Not having buy-in from all family members does present certain difficulties, but it doesn’t mean that you must completely abandon your mission.

You can often manage differences of opinion by creating a discretionary pool of money. If your family has a private foundation, for example, you can create a donor-advised fund that either you or the foundation funds to support your mission. Alternatively, you might choose to allow each family member to manage a portion of the family’s charitable funds so that various values and goals can be represented.

Developing and implementing a strategic giving plan can be a fulfilling process, especially when you’re able to see successful results. While it’s natural for challenges to arise over the course of any long-term plan, these headwinds can be easily managed with discipline and adequate preparation. If you need help getting started, consider consulting a trusted wealth advisor, who can guide you through the process of allocating funds to your charitable program and strategically gifting them to the charities and causes you and your family support.

Cathy Schnaubelt is a senior wealth strategist for CIBC Private Wealth Management's Houston office, with more than 35 years of industry experience. In this role, Cathy is responsible for the development of integrated wealth management solutions and provides comprehensive estate and financial planning services to high net worth clients.


This article originally appeared on on Jan. 23, 2019.