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In the philanthropic sector, “Impact Opportunity Giving” is an emerging and growing trend. As previously defined, Impact Opportunity Giving is an occasional one-time opportunity to make a social or environmental impact.

There are many factors that make Impact Opportunity Giving attractive. A primary factor is the immense joy and satisfaction donors have when they make a specific impact. They get to see and, many times, direct their generosity to what is important to them. For some, this feeling of control is important. For others, giving while living through Impact Opportunity Giving provides great satisfaction in that they are making a difference in the causes, passions, and organizations that are important to them.

What are examples of Impact Opportunity Giving? Examples include capital campaigns by nonprofits, the occasional charitable donation that has an impact, or other clearly defined charitable goals that have a direct return from the generosity of the donor. For business owners, there may be opportunities to use the sale of their business to provide retirement security as well as the funding and framework for their transition to serving a passion or cause that is important to them. Another growing trend, especially amongst millennials, is the spontaneous giving via the use of mobile technology based on an emotional appeal to something that is important to the donor.

There are a number of factors that have served as a catalyst for this emerging category of Impact Opportunity Giving. The “Giving While Living" example and philosophy as recently demonstrated by Chuck Feeney, founder of Atlantic Philanthropies, was reflected in his giving away $8 billion while he was living. Chuck Feeney was also the inspiration for the Giving Pledge popularized by the massive current generosity of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

With this introduction, listed below are the 5 main characteristics of Impact Opportunity Giving:

  1. It is aligned with what is important to the donor. In many cases, the gifted cause or organization is personally appealing and aligned with the donor’s values. In some instances, this alignment is not necessarily the recipient of the generosity, but may be tied to the person making the “ask.”
  2. Impact Opportunity Giving is the giving of both human and financial resources while one is alive as opposed to at death.
  3. As the name implies, there is a specific goal and result of the Impact Opportunity Giving. There are direct results seen from the generosity of the giver and an intangible return in the form of immeasurable satisfaction.
  4. Unlike Stewardship Giving, Impact Opportunity Giving is not periodic, but rather an occasional appeal to the donor. The appeal is an emotional, one-time request for additional generosity.
  5. Finally, the funding for an Impact Opportunity donation goes above and beyond the financial stewardship giving. Impact Opportunity funding normally comes from the additional savings or investments that the charitable donor has set aside for larger gifts. For smaller gifts, the Impact Opportunity comes from normal cash flow surplus.

Large Impact Opportunity gifts (i.e. major gifts) are funded in a variety of ways. Many times Impact Opportunity gifts may be funded with cash and appreciated securities. While this is the most simple funding means, the intentional use of more complex assets such as real estate, the sale of a business, or the gifting of retirement accounts can also serve as funding sources. It is suggested that you work with professional philanthropy advisors to determine how to best fund your Impact Opportunity gifts.

Impact Opportunity Giving is the most exciting, impactful and personally satisfying type of charitable giving. This is because as a donor, you feel like you are and can be in more control to impact things that are really important to you, whether they be specific passions, causes, or organizations. You receive the joy of giving while living and you can specifically see the end result of your giving. This also serves as a means of gaining experience in your charitable giving and helping you become more educated, empowered and impactful, bringing more meaning and joy to your charitable work.

Coming Next: The personal satisfaction of Type 3: “Legacy Giving”.


©2018 Aspire to Give®. All Rights Reserved. Greg Doepke is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® and a Certified Financial Planner®. Greg serves on the Board of Directors for the International Association for Advisors in Philanthropy and as the Philanthropist in Residence at Auburn University’s Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies. As the founder of Aspire to Give® Greg educates and equips individuals, families, business owners, and foundations with both traditional and leading-edge philanthropic tools and techniques for smart, meaningful, and impactful giving. You can contact Greg at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Disclosure: Greg Doepke is the founder and principal of Aspire to Give®, a social enterprise that donates 100% of profits to charity.
The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are not representative of the views of ACG Advisory Services, Inc. or the Actuarial Consulting Group, Inc. of Midlothian, Virginia. Each client and prospective client agrees, as a condition of precedent to his/her/its access to Aspire to Give®’s website to release and hold harmless ACG Advisory Services, Inc. and Actuarial Consulting Group, Inc., their officers, directors, owners, employees, and agents from any and all adverse consequences resulting from any of his/her/its actions and/or omissions which are independent of his/her/its receipt of personalized advice from Aspire to Give® or Gregory W. Doepke.