“It’s more difficult to give away money that it is to earn it in the first place.” ~Andrew Carnegie

While his premise is arguable, Andrew Carnegie’s point is indisputable. He understood the power of planned giving.
Tax exempt organizations are the fastest growing sector in the United States. Today there are almost 2 million nonprofit organizations, and 50,000 new ones are born each year. The competition for our donations is intense. Yet most of us give more thought to buying a pair of shoes than to our philanthropy.
Philanthropy is usually the least thought out, most disorganized part of our financial activities. We know charitable contributions save us taxes. Whatever we give away is that much less we give to the IRS. But the question we rarely ask is: How can I maximize not only my tax benefits but the power that philanthropy gives me?

Philanthropy is a very powerful tool. Through thoughtfully planned giving, you can:

• Change the world in areas you feel strongest about
• Pass on your wisdom and values to your children and those you love
• Leave your imprint on the world, a lasting legacy that will affect your community for generations to come

The more thought and planning you give to your charitable donations, the more…so to speak…bang you get from your buck—financially, socially, emotionally. This is especially important for women. Why? Call it the Bake Sale mentality.
Women give more often than men, but they give in much smaller amounts to twice as many organizations. Giving small amounts willy nilly significantly erodes the satisfaction we could derive from giving, while it dilutes the impact we could have on the world.
Studies reveal how men and women give differently.
The top three reasons men give:
1. have a building named after them
2. pressure from office or peers
3. get a seat on a board of directors

The top three reasons women give:
1. make a difference
2. pass on family tradition
3. give back to community

Philanthropy is a learned skill. None of us were born with the gene, though our family’s influence is very important.

Principles of Powerful Philanthropy

1. Educate yourself financially. The number one reason women don’t give more is lack of knowledge. No matter how much money a woman has, if she’s afraid, insecure, and/or ignorant around money, she’ll be restrained in her giving . A Prudential study shows that while 73% of women believe passing money to children and causes is important, only 14% of them have conducted detailed financial planning to ensure an effective wealth transfer.

2.Get your financial house in order. Review your finances regularly with your spouse. Smart money management follows four rules:

a. Spend less
b. Save more
c. Invest wisely
d. Give generously

These rules must be followed in this order. Most women have the giving generously down pat, but giving without following the first three rules is an act of self sabotage. Not only do you jeopardize your future security, but you diminish the impact you can make with your money.

3. See yourself as a philanthropist in your own right. This is important. Too many women think it’s their husband’s money, so giving it away is their husband’s responsibility. But women often outlive their spouses and may ultimately be in charge of the family estate. Another reason women don’t engage in planned giving is because, if they’re not a Carnegie or Rockefeller, they don’t think they have enough to worry about. But in my experience, the most powerful philanthropists are not the ones with the highest net worth. They’re the ones who are financially educated, secure and passionate about a cause.

4. Give serious thought to the legacy you want to leave. I once saw a poster that posed this question: Will it matter that I was? Ask yourself: How do I want people to remember me? What changes would I like to see in the world. What do I value most? Does my giving reflect my values?

5. Work with professionals. Figuring out how much is possible and advantageous to give is a complex issue. Don’t try to do this in a vacuum; it should be a team effort. Find a reputable estate planner, attorney, financial advisor or accountant. Studies show, however, nine out of ten people don’t mention charities in their will. So if a professional you consult doesn’t bring it up, be sure it’s on your agenda.

6. Make it a family affair. Use philanthropy as a way to teach kids about values, money management and life goals.

The power of philanthropy comes from thoughtful focused giving in areas you feel passionate about. When enough women come together, give strategically in areas we feel passionate about, we’ll have the means to literally change the world, heal this planet. And it all starts with each one of us.

Copyright 2007 Barbara Stanny. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority

Author's Bio: 

Barbara Stanny is the leading Expert on women and money. She is the author of 5 bestselling books, a highly entertaining financial speaker, and an experience financial coach and trainer. For more information visit BarbaraStanny.com.