How Much to Give?

From Toolkit for Giving

Determining how much to give to charity is a personal choice. The only legal requirements for giving levels relate to private foundations, which are required by federal law to pay out annual grants totaling a minimum of 5 percent of their assets.

Individual Giving Levels

The appropriate charitable giving amount will be different for every person. Deciding how much to give to charity can be influenced by many factors beside your financial picture, including your family situation, retirement goals, and personal values and passions. A professional advisor can help you determine your appropriate charitable giving level. In addition, here are a few resources that may help you get started:

The Stages of Giving, by Kenneth N. Dayton
The Stages of Giving tells the story of a lifetime of giving in the words of the late Ken Dayton. In this publication, Dayton shared his nine-stage giving process to help others learn how to move from what he called a minimal response to a creative and thoughtful maximum giving strategy. Read a one-page summary of Dayton's nine stages of giving (PDF).

The One Percent Club
The One Percent Club is a voluntary association of people of means in Minnesota who are committed to annually giving back one percent or more of their net worth, or 5 percent of their income, whichever is greater, to the communities and organizations that they are passionate about.

Bolder Giving
Bolder Giving’s mission is to inspire and support people to give at their full lifetime potential. The website offers stories of extraordinary role models, gives donors practical advice on how to give at their full potential, and provides tools and inspiration to the donor education community.

Generous Giving
Encourages people to be challenged by the question of what could happen if Christians were truly generous with their resources, living out the joy of giving instead of the duty of tithing.

Giving Pledge
The Giving Pledge is a philanthropic campaign started in June 2010 by American billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. It is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to pledge to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy, either during the lifetime or after the death of the donor.

Give with Faith
A web portal sponsored by three faith-based foundations – Catholic Community Foundation, Jewish Community Foundation, and Lutheran Community Foundation – to assist people in finding ways their philanthropy can support their spiritual values and interests.

New Tithing
NewTithing Group educates the public and their advisors to make comfortably affordable charitable donations through sound budgeting. Through its philanthropic research and planning tools, the Group strives to help individuals lead more meaningful lives with the knowledge that they are improving the public good at their own comfortable capacity: The Group believes that a comfortable donation makes a happier donor and a more effective charitable investor. The organization was founded by Claude Rosenberg, author of "Wealthy and Wise, How You and America Can Get the Most Out of Your Giving."

Business Giving Levels

A company's decision about how much to give for charitable and community purposes can be influenced by its annual profit levels, long-term strategic giving goals, business priorities, and a host of other factors. Some companies target a specific percentage of their pre-tax earnings to donate each year; others do not. Some try to give the same percentage of their pre-tax earnings to charity each year, while others vary the percentage year by year.

One business giving guideline is offered by the Minnesota Keystone Program, sponsored by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. The program recognizes companies for giving 2 percent or more and 5 percent or more of their pre-tax earnings to charity.

Minnesota Business Gives, sponsored by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce in partnership with local chambers, also provides annual recognition for businesses giving 2 percent or more of pre-tax earnings.

Both programs include the value of in-kind products and services and the value of employee volunteer time as well as cash contributions in calculating the 2 percent.

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