Hope for your financial life and beyond

How to Develop a Purposeful Plan for Giving Away Money

If you have found your way to this article, you most likely have a generous heart and enjoy giving away money to a favorite cause. But have you ever thought about how you give away money? Do you give purposefully or haphazardly as opportunities pass in front of you?

giving away moneyDeveloping a purposeful plan for giving away money might seem silly. You may want to give wherever and to whomever you like without feeling held back by a plan. There is great freedom in that philosophy. However, as I’ve found out over the years, there are also great dangers.

Putting together a purposeful plan for giving away money is a fundamental exercise you should go through. In short, it will help you have success with your finances.

Everyone who gets serious about their finances tries hard to make a monthly budget work. We make a plan to pay for the kid’s college. And we work tirelessly in order to support ourselves in retirement.

So why do we ignore this area of our finances where a lot of money could also pass through our fingers?

The fact is we shouldn’t ignore it. Here’s how to get purposeful with your giving.

Know Your Why

You have a great responsibility to manage your giving wisely. So, it’s important to get purposeful with your giving and know your “Why?” Here were several of our reasons:

1. To be intentional with our money. We decided to make deliberate and calculated decisions about where our money goes. It’s not wise to give away money haphazardly without any specific structure or purpose to the process.

2. Guilt and other emotions got the best of us. Guilt giving and emotional giving are two of the deadliest forms of giving. It’s hard to think rationally when overcome with emotion. It’s too easy to get swept up in the moment and give beyond your means or to things you aren’t really prepared for.

Related Content: Giving for the Wrong Reasons

3. Lastly, our desire to develop a purposeful giving plan stems from our faith. That reason may not resonate with you. But I believe that God clearly teaches giving in the Bible. It’s my desire to follow through in that regard with a cheerful heart.

In fact, in the New Testament book of II Corinthians, the missionary Paul discussed some pretty specific teaching about purposeful giving. His teachings include how the church was to prepare monetary gifts in advance of his coming to them. Paul clearly advocated planned and purposeful giving (See II Cor. 8:10; II Cor. 9:5).

So, those things served as our “Why?” to develop a purposeful plan for giving away money. Now, let’s look at the process.

How to Develop a Plan for Giving Away Money

So how do you put a purposeful giving plan together? Here are the steps we took, plus some additional giving suggestions I’ve learned along the way.

Step 1: Do an attitude check

Firstly, giving always begins with your attitude. Why are you giving away money in the first place? Giving should not be done for selfish reasons. It’s not about getting noticed or receiving kickbacks. Giving is not about our needs, it’s about meeting the needs of others.

I know that’s simplistic. However, if you are not giving for the right reasons, it will upset the entire plan. Frustration will set in as you try to implement the plan. Giving will become a chore and an obligation if you don’t keep the right perspective.

This is all about developing the proper motivation behind giving away money. It should revolve around being a blessing to, caring for and helping others.

Step 2: Decide What You Value

Ask yourself, “What are you passionate about?”

Answering this question is what step two is all about. If you are single, this is something you can decide on your own or with the help of a friend. For couples, it will take a great deal of communication before moving forward. The last thing you want to do is end up in a relationship money fight over giving.

Related Content: How Couples Can End the Money Fights

Don’t neglect this step. Take some time here. The values you identify will play a big roll when you determine where the money goes.

Step 3: Start With A Baseline Amount

“How much to give?” That is the big question.

Obviously this varies on the individual. It’s based on your circumstances and comfort level. There is no recommended set percentage or amount that you should give. It’s a decision you have to make.

We give money regularly. It works best for us to incorporate giving into our monthly budget. It helps us avoid certain pitfalls that come from not giving at all or giving too much.

A baseline amount for us centered around the Biblical teaching of the tithe. So we set aside 10% of our monthly income to give to our local church. If that doesn’t work for you, decide what percentage does.

We set that payment up as an automatic payment from our bank. This step created consistency and discipline and kept us from accidentally forgetting.

Additionally, our regular giving is on the top line of our monthly budget form. We subtract it from our income before any other expenses. This is an important step for those who want to give monthly.

Related Content: The Ultimate Guide on How to Create the Best Monthly Budget

Once you have your baseline amount set, look for other giving opportunities. As your income increases, there will be ways you can give above and beyond your baseline amount.

Step 4: Determine Where the Money Goes

Now it’s time to tackle the toughest step of all. How do you figure out where the money goes?

Certainly, this can be overwhelming. There are so many worthy causes and only so much money to go around. Conversely, there are also many shady causes trying to persuade you into giving to them. Be alert for these.

So how do you figure this out? Remember what you valued in Step 2? Time to focus on those things that you are passionate about. For example, out of our Step 2 discussions my wife and I learned we valued four things when giving money: our local church, organizations that support military families, crises pregnancy centers and overseas missions work.

Three Things to Keep in Mind Here:

1. First priority goes to that which is closest (ex. – family members, church, kid’s school, and organizations within your community and state). After that, broaden your horizon to national and world affairs and organizations.

2. Give to reputable organizations that don’t dig into your donation with excessive administration fees. For example, a high percentage of your donation needs to go directly to the cause, not someone’s salary or company overhead.

3. Give where it has the greatest potential impact. This will revolutionize your giving more than anything else. Does your donation have the chance to help 5 people or 50 people? Can one family be fed or perhaps 20?

Now, that’s not to say you never give to that one family in need. There is certainly a time and place for that. But the main focus should be on maximizing dollars and getting the largest possible return on your giving money.

That’s what we do with investing, right? So why not with giving? If I can support one missionary overseas for $20 a month and their personal ministry impacts thousands, then I’m taking that opportunity.

Step 5: Advanced Giving Steps

Finally, here are a few considerations as your net worth continues to grow about giving away money:

1. Set up an emergency-giving fund. Set aside a certain amount you’d like to use for spur of the moment giving. Keep it in your savings account until needed.

You will always come across opportunities that are not on your radar. Having some cash set aside to give in these occasions loosens some of the rigidity and hesitancy to give that comes with following a set plan.

2. Look at tax considerations for giving. Never give JUST for tax reasons. But if getting a tax break lines up with a passion of yours, then consider giving to it. In such instances, run that decision by an accountant first.

3. Set up a charitable giving account. Wealthier individuals should consider setting up a charitable giving account through an investment company. The big advantage of these accounts is that they allow investors to realize certain tax benefits. In other words, you avoid capital gains taxes because you sold an appreciated asset. Instead of selling the asset, it’s simple transferred into the charitable account, thus bypassing the tax consequences. The funds can then be used to support your favorite charities over time.

Giving Away Money Can Be Fun

In conclusion, the purposeful giving steps we’ve taken have greatly enhanced our ability and desire to give. It has reduced the stress we feel about giving and kept us from making unwise decisions with our money. Additionally, giving away money is more enjoyable now as we think about all the lives we are impacting.

Get started working on your giving plan today if don’t have one. It will change for the better the way you think about giving away money.

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: Do you have an purposeful plan for giving away money? If not, how do you determine where your money goes? How do you decide how much to give? Do you give regularly (monthly) or at designated times during the year?

Image Courtesy of 401kcalculator.org at Flickr Creative Commons

I hope you enjoyed that post. Want more?
Sign up to receive my blog posts via email and get your free gift...
99 Ways to Spend Less and Save More

Privacy Guarantee: I will not share your email with anyone.


  1. Super entry, very useful, it’s a pity that only now I found this blog.

  2. Nice giving plan. I think we have to assess where our money, which we will donate or give, can have a big impact.

  3. Giving should always be selfless and natural. It does feel good when I share my blessings with others and I kinda notice the return is greater.

  4. We really like helping out children, so we make sure most of our giving goes to charities that help out disadvantaged kids around the world. We do not give away as much as we would like, but I think it works just as with saving. Start with something and then gradually build on it from there.

  5. My wife and I pray the amount that we should give each year. Then we put together a plan of where that money should go and who the Lord is looking to bless. It’s a blast to give 🙂

  6. That’s a good idea, Brian. The more you give, the more blessed you will be. I think as a family man, a giving plan is one best example to my kids for them to grow with a selfless giving heart, and it doesn’t stop there because an opportunity to help happens any time so it’s good that it be a natural thing for everyone.

  7. Great article! You points are spot on. We love to give, it’s not a obligation it’s a passion. I would like to repost this article for others to see.

    • “…it’s a passion…” That’s when it gets really enjoyable Boris, when you can engage in the giving process with that level of enthusiasm. Thanks for the comment and please do share! 🙂

      • Doubline Carlson says

        Hello. We were envouraged to make personal covenants with God through sacrifice. I just want to know that if its a trick to make people give money. He said that we should give above the 10%. Making a covenant with God will make him visit each part of our lives

  8. Thanks for the tips!

  9. I’m really not that good with this – when I give, it’s because something pulls at my heart strings, and I get sucked into the moment. I don’t make a plan like you’ve suggested.

    • “…I get sucked into the moment.” That’s a big reason why we started doing this. We got sucked into so many emotional moments it was sucking our wallets dry.

  10. Good post Brian! I think this is something we tend to overlook too much when it comes to finances. My wife and I do something similar with our giving. Our primary giving is to our church and have a set amount that we generally don’t go below. As our business fluctuates we will give more, or as we feel necessary. From there, there re a few local organizations that we’ll give to in one off situations. We’re also trying to model this to our kids, especially now to our six year old as she’s starting to understand why we do it.

    • Modelling giving to the kids is huge John! As you know, they pick up on everything. It’s neat when they start to develop the right attitude about giving. Who better to learn from than mom and dad.

  11. Brian, LOVE this, especially your idea about an emergency giving fund. Our heart is heavily on the starvation and other troubles that third world families and children face, so we focus most of our giving in that direction. When you’re giving from the heart to something that means a lot to you, giving can be a wonderfully fulfilling thing.

    • That emergency giving fund idea sort of came out of nowhere in our thinking about giving. I think it helps protect us a bit against the emotional side of giving. We do still get caught up at times when we hear something that touches our hearts and we want to give immediately, on the spot without much discussion. We also use it if one of us feels strongly about giving to something that the other one is only marginally interested in. I guess the biggest thing is that it just gives us some flexibility.

  12. Credit Card Shoppe says

    Great post and interesting. Couldn’t agree with you more on the topic of giving. My husband and I give 10% every month right off the top before spending any other money. We do this to help others but to also make sure we don’t treasure our ‘stuff’ so much and keep our own hearts in check.

    • “…to also make sure we don’t treasure our ‘stuff’ so much and keep our own hearts in check.” Giving surely does that. Every time I give it humbles me and makes me thankful for what I have.

  13. What my wife and I do is every year we review the organizations we give to and how much. We make changes at that time and we are then set up for another year. The donations are auto-deducted from my paycheck, which works great as it’s spread out over the course of a year.

    • I like that approach DC. And it’s good that you continually review it. Sometimes an organization’s mission or philosophy changes and it no longer lines up with our values.

  14. Green Money Stream says

    The giving plan is a great idea. I hadn’t thought of it in this way before, but you are right, we spend time coming up with plans around other “spending” items in our budget. This just makes good sense.

    • If I’m going to send my dollars to others, I want to really think it through. I just feel like planning in any area of life equates to winning.

  15. While I give, I don’t budget it. The reason for this is because I do it spontaneously. I find it more rewarding. I do it when I see someone in need or a situation presents itself. That is just how I give.

    • I think there is definitely a place for giving spontaneously. We’ve worked that into our plan through the emergency-giving fund. That lets us feel free to give when unforeseen opportunities arise.

  16. Six Figures Under says

    I think giving is a part of finances that is too often overlooked, so this is wonderful (as was your post yesterday).

    My parents and church leaders instilled a testimony of giving (particularly tithing) in me from the time I was young. No matter how poor we are, we always give the Lord his 10% and he “opens the windows of heaven” to us and pours out his blessings.

    • Speaking from an entirely faith perspective, I believe the Bible teaches that the blessings of God are on those who give. It’s seen all too often throughout the pages of the book.

  17. Fit is the New Poor says

    We have a great giving plan in place, but we think in amounts instead of percentages so that we can save throughout the month for bigger giving at the end of the year. We divide the bigger gift between our church and our animal rescue organization. We occasionally give to a heritage center in our city if we have any leftover or go over our savings goal.

    • It’s fine to think in terms of amounts. Our giving to church is the only thing we do in a percentage. The rest is done by agreed upon amounts.

  18. Love this, Brian. Our church is an automatic beneficiary of our giving plan. We also annually adopt a family at Christmas. Beyond that we, as a family, discuss what other organizations or causes we will support with our family money and time. Philanthropy is an important part of our lives and it’s something we involved the girls in early. I agree wholeheartedly that it has to done for the right reasons. When I started having the girls share their money, they didn’t mind sharing toys or clothes but were more resistant to sharing their money, particularly Taylor. I didn’t push it because I didn’t want her to resent sharing. But after she saw how much her sister enjoyed it, she decided to try sharing too. Now they both love it. It’s great that your family has such a great giving plan and your children will grow up with the mindset to give, rather than view it as unusual.

    • I am excited to see how our giving is already rubbing off on our children. It’s sweet to see how they sometimes take some of their dedicated spending money and choose to give that instead of spend it on themselves. Makes me think we are on the right track.

  19. We give at least 10% to our church of all out gain. Our church advocates to do it off the top before it hits the account, but we write a large check every 3-6 months. I write the check, no questions asked and have my whole life.

  20. Just a quick addition to the tax consequences — if someone is over 70 1/2 and has an IRA that they are required to distribute from, they can donate to a charity directly from the IRA and save the income taxes on the distribution. This little perk is scheduled to go away in 2014, so I would definitely check w/ a professional before doing this.

  21. My wife and I are very similar to you in how our giving works. We have a pre-budget amount that we give (percentage of gross) to our local church, then we have a giving/charity line item that is allocated to other ministries or charities. Having a plan is key, because it’s too easy for us to spend money in our minds as soon as we have it.

    • “…it’s too easy for us to spend money in our minds as soon as we have it.” That’s exactly right! We were so lost without a plan and not experiencing much joy with our giving either.


  1. […] Fourman @ Luke1428 writes Be Intentional: How to Develop a Giving Plan – Feel like giving has become an obligation? Unsure about where to send your money? This five […]

  2. […] from Luke 1428 had a wonderful three-part series on Giving for The Wrong Reasons, How To Develop a Giving Plan and An Open Hand: The Most Powerful Money Visual Ever. Being philanthropic is important to me and I […]

  3. Yakezie Carnival — Fat Guy Skinny Wallet says:

    […] Fourman @ Luke1428 writes Be Intentional: How to Develop a Giving Plan – Feel like giving has become an obligation? Unsure about where to send your money? This five […]

  4. Financial Carnival for Young Adults says:

    […] Fourman @ Luke1428 writes Be Intentional: How to Develop a Giving Plan – Feel like giving has become an obligation? Unsure about where to send your money? This five […]

  5. […] Be Intentional: How to Develop a Giving Plan by Brian at Luke1428 – I love the idea of developing a giving plan. My wife always gets bombarded by her students at school asking her to donate to this and that. There are also the donate at the register fundraising efforts that we all come across. It’s hard sometimes to say no when you don’t have a plan, especially when they make you feel guilty about it. Having a plan can help you prioritize and help others understand why you say yes or no. […]

  6. […] Fourman @ Luke1428 writes Be Intentional: How to Develop a Giving Plan – Feel like giving has become an obligation? Unsure about where to send your money? This five […]

Speak Your Mind