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Part three | Find and focus on your charitable passion

In part two of our charitable strategies series, we examined two giving scenarios to evaluate the best time to donate. In this segment, we’ll help you find and focus in on your charitable passions so that you can create a plan to achieve your giving goals.

Most of us want to give back, but we may be unsure where to start. How can we do the most good? How should we allocate our time and our funds? To what causes should we direct our resources? Everyone’s path to meaningful giving is different. It’s important to find and follow yours. 

Some donors give in response to real-time donation requests, while others strategize gifts in advance, leveraging funds with intentional planning. Planning out your giving in advance can achieve impressive results, even with modest means. Establishing a donor-advised fund (DAF) allows you to do both in a way that lets you best serve your philanthropic goals with numerous benefits built in.  

Think of a DAF as a charitable giving account, from which you can grant out to charities in response to real-time need, as well as meeting long-term giving goals. They are tax effective, allowing you to contribute appreciated securities, illiquid assets, and possibly lessen capital gains and estate taxes on contributed assets. DAFs are flexible, you can choose to focus on grant recommendations, growing your account, or both. At Vanguard Charitable, we pride ourselves on offering a selection of investment options that span the risk spectrum, at a low cost, and without sacrificing quality. DAFs are also convenient, they consolidate your giving and are supported by a team of experts who handle the due diligence and administrative details of issuing grants.

A path to charitable passion

Using the prompts below, determine what need areas you want to center your resources on. Once you have your charitable passions identified, you can develop a plan to achieve your goals.

the number one

What is important to me? What do I value?

What are the core values that influence how you act in the world? What values do you want to carry forward in your charitable actions?

the number two

What has shaped my interest in this cause? Do I have a personal connection to it?

Perhaps you had early exposure to an issue, which shaped a drive to address it. Maybe you read an article about an ongoing problem in your community, or you read about an organization working on a solution that you think has real promise of creating meaningful change.

the number three

Where should I target my giving within my broader interests?

Where is the greatest need? Is there an overlooked problem area? A geographic region in most need?

the number four

What motivates me to support this cause?

Is it a long-term vision, urgency, results, honoring someone?

the number five

What charity or group of charities should I give my resources to?

A Vanguard Charitable account, gives you access to the GuideStar National Nonprofit Directory, a comprehensive and easy-to-use giving research tool. The directory enables you to filter organizations to identify those that meet your needs and interest areas, as well as evaluate their overall impact.

The number six

What does the charity need?

Do they need resources, infrastructure, or a new strategy? Understanding of the underlying issues in the communities distinguish situations in which organizational development is needed versus straight financial resources.



Once you find a cause, focus on it and strengthen your understanding of it. This will help you foster a deeper connection to your giving and ensure you play a role in identifying solutions to prevalent societal issues—meaning what’s important to you aligns with what’s important to the broader community.

Don’t wait to get started. Be as committed to learning about the cause as you would be to furthering your education or building a company.

Get started today with a donor-advised fund with vanguard charitable


For more resources on finding your charitable passion, visit our granting tools page

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