Philanthropy can have many forms—giving of time, talent or treasure (or a combination of all three)—however at its core, the definition of philanthropy is making life better for others. In The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist writes, “No matter how much or how little money you have flowing through your life, when you direct that flow with a soulful purpose, you feel wealthy.” Many people have charitable intentions, but are not sure where to start, or if they even have enough to give. Understanding your own personal mission can help formulate a giving plan that will leave a legacy, possibly even more than you imagine.

Mission-based philanthropy helps you define what you are passionate about, taking your goals and values into consideration and integrating those into your comprehensive wealth management plan. Take the time to consider your motivation for giving, and what inspires you to be charitable. For example, have you been a recipient of charitable giving in the past, or is there a current event or situation that inspires you to give? Write down what motivates you and what you value.

Once you have determined your reasons for giving, developing a purpose statement will give you a roadmap to keep you on track to reach your ultimate philanthropic goals.

Write down your motivation and values

Draft a purpose statement

Determine what you have to give

Identify ways to maximize your giving

Include your family in discussions about your mission and giving

An example might be, “I believe in the power of higher education to make the world a better place. I want to help educators have resources to teach future generations, and/or I want to help students achieve their educational dreams.”

Having a defined purpose statement allows you to assess what you have to offer toward that goal, whether it be volunteering your time or skills, or sharing your financial assets. Consider what you have to give and make ambitious yet realistic commitments to do so.

When making financial contributions, being informed about potential tax advantages will benefit you and the organizations that align with your purpose. Consider gift planning strategies that maximize your assets, such as donor-advised funds or making qualified charitable distributions from your IRA.

Mission-based planning can encourage philanthropy in the next generation as well. Engaging your loved ones in the decision-making process of your giving plan will assist in avoiding potential surprises while helping lay a foundation and build traditions around the mission, vision, and values of your family. Sharing the joy of giving with those closest to you allows everyone to celebrate the gifts you make and may also encourage them to find their own passions, leading to long-term impact.