The holidays come around, and our thinking seems to naturally shift to giving—gifts to friends and family, and contributions to organizations that do good for others.

It’s then the question almost invariably comes to mind: How can I know what we’re doing is making an actual difference?

There are some simple ways you can ensure your charitable giving (personal and corporate) is creating a real impact on those to whom it is directed. Here are three thoughts to get your thinking started.

1) Is the contribution large enough?

You’ve heard the saying “give until it hurts.” How about “give until it helps?”

It’s safe to say every 501(c)3 organization worthy of its tax-exempt status could accomplish more of its mission with more funds available. If you’ve ever served on the board of a non-profit organization (or even been a volunteer) you know there are always programs and services it could offer if there was more money or volunteer efforts. But even the most successful company has a limited amount of charitable giving and company time it can offer each year.

While it is tempting to help a lot of organizations a little, why not help a few organizations (or even just one) a great deal? By consolidating your giving to one organization, you can maximize the impact of that gift. Even reducing that number to two or three can make a huge difference.

2) Increase impact by involving your whole team.

Most of your employees probably struggle with the same dilemma. Each has a desire to help any number of organizations, but wonders if there is real impact in a $10 or $25 gift.

While consolidating your giving to one organization, offer your employees the opportunity for individual participation in a company-wide effort. You can communicate to them “because of your dedication to our company, we’ve been able to assist [organization] with a contribution of [$amount].” Then, follow with “and we want you to join us. We obviously believe in the mission of [organization], and if youdo, too, you can make our gift even larger and we can all accomplish more as a team.”

This can be in the form of oobe_habitat-homemonetary contributions, or volunteer participation. Tom Merritt, co-CEO of OOBE (a Greyrock client), shared his company’s philosophy and culture “to love and serve people with time, talent and resources so God may be celebrated,” by organizing a team to work with

Habitat for Humanity. This year, the OOBE staff came together with Habitat building an entire home for the greater good of those in the community.


3) Stay at home.

There is nothing wrong with supporting large, national or international efforts involved in humanitarian, environmental or conservancy efforts. As we just discussed, combined efforts can produce great results.

But the organization down the street tutoring local children toward higher educational excellence may need your support more than the national organization setting its sights on the same. Or the local land conservancy may be securing and preserving wild places in your own backyard that employees and clients can enjoy with their families for years to come.

In many cases, simply placing it with a local agency can increase the impact of any size financial gift. Smaller local organizations tend to have lower operating expenses, which could mean more of your donation goes toward the fulfillment of their mission. Plus, you get the intrinsic benefit of knowing you are a part of efforts closer to home.

Are there other reasons? Sure. Take a minute to think of some of your own, then consider your charitable giving—end-of-year and throughout the year—in a new light for 2017.