Ask NPC: How do I get started with my giving?

By Rachel Findlay 28 March 2012

Many people come to NPC having decided they that want to start giving to charity, or because they want to scale up their giving. They face the same challenge: where to start?

They know they want to give something back to society, and have often given money to charity in the past. But often they aren’t sure how to start giving in a way that is satisfying and rewarding.

It’s not surprising that getting started with your giving can be daunting—with over 160,000 charities in the UK alone, making decisions about which ones to give your money to is not easy!

The first step to more rewarding and impactful giving is to find specific issues that you care about and are interested in funding. You don’t have to pick just one area, but focusing down on two or three issues can make giving much easier and more satisfying. Having a focus enables you to get to know which charities operate in that area, and to understand what approaches really make a difference to the lives of the people the charity seeks to support. This then makes it much easier to choose effective charities to donate to, and to understand the difference your funding is making.

In order to narrow your focus areas, we recommend that you think about what really matters to you and choose charitable sectors accordingly. This might be related to a personal passion or interest, like the environment, sport or the arts. It might be driven by a personal experience, for example if you have a family member suffering from a particular illness. It could also be inspired by a specific event that has moved you, like a major earthquake or local floods. Or maybe you are really frustrated by a particular social issue that you want to help tackle, like knife crime in your local area, a lack of clean water in ruralAfrica, or rising youth unemployment. If you are worried about limiting your focus, you can always keep a pot of your charitable money to one side to answer urgent requests or donate in light of unforeseen events.

Rather than being reactive in your funding, and responding to requests from friends and colleagues to support random charities, choosing a few themes to your giving can help you achieve more with the money you have available. If you have a clear focus, you’re more likely to engage with the issues you’re funding and choose better charities as a result. Having specific focus areas will also enable you to more easily reject funding requests that come your way—its often hard to say no!

Once you’ve identified a focus, you’re ready to move onto the next stage in your funding journey. Ultimately, finding something you care about to focus your giving on can make the whole giving process easier. But more importantly, you will get more out of your giving if you’re passionate and excited about what you’re doing, which is a great inspiration to others to start giving too.

Over the next few months we’ll be publishing a series of blogs dealing with common questions NPC consultants get asked in their day-to-day work. This is the first in a series of Q and As for donors written by NPC’s Funder Effectiveness team, based on their experiences of working with funders of all kinds. You can read more about their work with individuals and families here.