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Many of us spend countless hours analyzing every facet of our investment portfolios—including looking at past performance and future projections of what we hope to accomplish through our decisions to buy and sell assets. Forward-thinking parents even make the time to sit down with their children and explain the rationale behind their investment decisions.
But how many of us actually sit down to do the same kind of analysis when it comes to our charitable giving? By doing so, we become more mindful about what we have given and to whom—while also plotting out a plan for what we want to give into the future.
This was something that Floyd Marinescu discussed when I met him this past Spring at MasterMindTalks in Carmel, CA. Unlike me, who came home and forgot about it, this entrepreneur went home to Toronto and outlined his whole process; something he calls a “Giving Portfolio.”
Why take the time? “The Giving Portfolio helped me exit a multi-year period of self-worth issues around wealth following the successful growth of my business,” says Marinescu. “The answer lay in finding my own sustainable balance with giving back, and the Giving Portfolio helped me plan, visualize, and align with this giving/living balance.”
Floyd created a spreadsheet where he could track his charitable giving budget on an annual basis so he could keep tabs on what he donated every year—money, in-kind donations, or even forgiven debts—while also putting a plan together for how he might give in the future.
The idea of building a Giving Portfolio like this is powerful because while many people give money throughout the year, it often lacks purpose. And you don’t have to be a billionaire to benefit from creating one. By thinking about your charitable giving similar to the way you treat your investments, you can develop a much more conscious and planned approach to where you want to make an impact.
If you take Floyd’s approach, you also can assess how much your giving—in whatever form it takes—represents as a percentage of your earnings or as a percentage of your net worth. Looking at your philanthropic gifts through that lens, you can better understand how much you can afford to give without exposing yourself to any unnecessary long-term risk.
By adopting the discipline of building and updating your Giving Portfolio, you will also gain the ability to look back at your past contributions and analyze why you made them and if they made the kind of impact you were hoping for.
A great time to start building your Giving Portfolio may be the time you begin pulling together all of the contribution receipts you’ll need to prepare for tax time. Take the same list you’ll be sending to your accountant, plug it into a spreadsheet, and see what kind of picture it paints.
You can then begin to think about how you might want to reallocate where your dollars go in 2018—and beyond.