(by Nick Tedesco, as originally appeared at Comstock’s)

1. Discuss your values and motivations. Explore your family’s motivations behind your giving to better understand what you want to accomplish. By identifying core values, you’ll be able to direct your support to mirror the causes important to you.

2. Explore your past giving. Review projects you supported in the past to refine the values and motivations of your family: Do the issues you support reflect your mission? Quantify the impact of your giving: Are you confident in your partnerships? And inform future giving: What do you want to do differently?

3. Go beyond financial resources. Consider how your background and expertise could be beneficial to grantee partners as they consider strategic planning, marshaling resources and spreading their mission. Additionally, volunteerism goes a long way and often inspires others to get involved.

4. Understand the needs of your community. Meet with partners and experts in your community or area of interest to better understand the issues that need to be addressed, and identify where funding can be most impactful. Field scans can be done both formally (hiring a consultant) or informally (request a meeting with a local nonprofit or peer funder).

5. Actively engage with grantees. It’s not enough to write a check and hope for the best — work with grantee partners to identify successful outcomes in advance of a gift. Continue the dialogue throughout the life of your support and adjust support as needed.

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