3 Steps to Begin (or Continue) Philanthropy

Judy Saxe, AEP®, CAP®
February 04, 2020

Are you considering incorporating philanthropy into your wealth?

This is the first blog in a three-part series that focuses on effective philanthropy.
Part 2: 4 Steps to Create a Plan for your Philanthropy
Part 3: 
4 Gifting Strategies That May Work for You and Your Family

Philanthropic giving can be an expression of your beliefs and values, a way to connect with others in the community or with family, and an opportunity to create a legacy that can be passed to future generations. For these reasons (and others), philanthropy may be an important component of your wealth planning.  However, an effective philanthropic giving plan can only be implemented once you have decided what you want to achieve. Then, you can develop your personal philanthropic approach and get started.

1. Discover your philanthropic goals

People choose to give for many reasons, including personal fulfillment, legacy planning and tax management. In addition, philanthropic giving is often motivated by passion for a specific purpose and/or the desire to make an impact. Determining your motivations and goals for giving is the first step in developing an effective strategy. To do so, the following exercises may help:

  • Experienced donors may find a review of their past donations helpful to identify the types of causes they tend to support and the experiences they have found rewarding
  • For those with less philanthropic experience, you can ask yourself the following questions, among others, to help you determine your goals: 
    • What values guide you? 
    • What causes are important to you?
    • What issues in your community concern you? 
    • What do you worry about for future generations? 

2. Develop your philanthropic approach

A careful and disciplined approach to philanthropic giving combines purpose, practicality and passion.  It also effectively connects the wealth management process to what individuals and families really value. While there are several approaches philanthropists can take, committing to a single style is not necessary to be successful. A variety of strategies can be effective, including:

  • Checkbook philanthropy – where donors provide general support to a variety of charitable organizations
  • Strategic philanthropy – where donors are in a financial position or state of mind to leave a legacy of charitable giving and also wish to measure the impact of their gifts
  • Impact investing – where investors intentionally seek to create both financial return and positive social and/or environment changes that can be actively measured and tracked

3. Initiate the process

To find your path and initiate the philanthropic process, begin by talking with your CIBC Private Wealth Management advisor or wealth strategist about incorporating a charitable giving strategy into your overall wealth management plan. And, if you plan to make philanthropy a multigenerational effort, you may wish to include your family in your discussions.

For more information on incorporating philanthropy into your wealth plan, visit our Effective Philanthropy resource page.


Judith Saxe is the director of research and education for wealth strategies and a senior wealth strategist at CIBC Private Wealth Management.