The Top 5 Giving Tuesday Decision-Making Struggles…And what to do

The Top 5 Giving Tuesday Decision-Making Struggles…And what to do

By: Emily Kane Miller

Over many years helping clients determine where and how they’d like to make impact, several common “giving conundrum” themes have emerged. Just in time for Giving Tuesday, we’re sharing how we think through these “on the one hand … on the other hand” moments. 

There’s no “right” answer, but we hope this thought exercise will help you make the very best choices for you and yours this Giving Tuesday.

  1. Double down vs. spread the wealth: For most of us, a donation on Giving Tuesday is not our  very first gift to a nonprofit. This first conundrum calls into question – do I make an even bigger gift to an organization I’ve already supported, or do I find a new group to support? Reflecting on your personal impact history, here are the questions we’d recommend considering: How deeply engaged are you with your “double down” organization(s)? If you’re on the board, or otherwise deeply committed, this could be a very helpful time to support unlocking a matching gift or meeting a key benchmark. On the other hand, if you are simply making a donation to a group you’ve already supported, it might be worth taking a minute to consider if there are any other groups who may benefit from your funds this year.  
  2. Tried and true vs. new territory: This one is as much a personality question as it is a philanthropic one. Do you prefer to stick with what you personally know well, or are you excited to take Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to learn about new people, organizations and causes? Are you already involved in an issue area near and dear to you, and would it fill your cup to go deeper with these preexisting partners? Alternatively, are you itching to venture outside of your current giving list, learn new things and meet new people?   
  3. Sure thing vs. moonshot: Some philanthropic work is a guaranteed “sure thing” – the task has been done before, the system is set, and your dollars are essentially guaranteed to accomplish a given goal. Other work falls into the “moonshot” category – new, innovative approaches, which if successful could disrupt the status-quo, and prove to be game changing. These efforts also have a much higher likelihood of “failure”. The question here – are you comfortable with risk? If so, explore the moonshot. But if you’d be very disappointed to see your dollars not materialize into a specific outcome, it’s probably better to stick with the tried and true.  
  4. Join the pool vs. needed bucks: In this juxtaposition, consider whether you’d rather contribute to a fund that’s already in a healthy position – or if you’re inclined to fund a smaller organization with a more limited budget, knowing that your donation will go further. Both options have merit. Think about how you like to invest financially. Do you normally pick a blue-chip stock or are you more drawn to a scrappy startup? Here, if you have a bit of funding to work with, we usually recommend diversifying between both types of organizations to make sure you’re covering your bases.
  5. In the news vs. not: Think about all the work and causes that you care about. If something is in the news often this year, it is likely that funds are already coming in. Is there something that you care about quite a bit, that may not be getting a lot of buzz? If so, this might be the time to double up on that organization.

Keep in mind that regardless of which direction you choose, it’s impressive that you’re thinking strategically about your giving. And as we always say – cutting the check is only the first step. If you’re thinking about making a deeper impact, check out some of our other blogs for more great tips and thought starters. 

Happy Giving Tuesday!


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