How intentional are you with your giving? In other words, have you given any thought to those receiving your generosity? The purpose of this blog is to help you become more intentional by outlining the three beneficiary categories of your giving heart—whether that be the giving of your time, your talents, your financial resources, or your connections you have with others that can help facilitate a greater impact for social good.

We will first identify the three main categories of the beneficiaries of your giving heart and then we will look at them individually in more detail.

If you take a moment to step back and look at your giving, most people realize that there are two primary categories—their family and other close relationships, and the other being nonprofits and social or environmental causes. But there is a lesser known third category of giving that is part of the emerging philanthropic frontier. This third category beneficiary is social impact investing.

Let's take a closer look at each of these major recipients of your giving heart—those that transcend your personal needs and wants.

Family & Strong Personal Ties

First and foremost, we have our family and those closest to us. The beneficiaries in this category are normally our children, grandchildren, or other immediate family members. It could be neighbors or close friends. What’s important to recognize with this giving category is it is our highest priority, and secondly, it is a personal and extremely emotional relationship with another person that motivates the giving.

Passions and Cause

The second category, and typically the next priority, is our giving to others in need or to causes that are important to us. Usually, these are nonprofit organizations, our church, or other groups addressing matters that are emotionally appealing to us based on our personal values and life experiences. In order for us to gain the most value in our lives from giving to passions and causes, we must first identify those passions and causes that are emotionally appealing and truly meaningful to us as individuals. Typically, this may include three to five different passions or causes.

Social Impact Investing

This lesser known beneficiary category is on the philanthropic leading-edge and it serves two purposes. Social impact investing provides both a social return and financial return. It is an authentic blending of your giving heart and thinking head as outlined in the previous blog, “Bridging the Heart & the Head in your Charitable Giving.”

Social impact investing is the giving of one’s financial resources that are in excess of that needed by individual and family needs and wants. It provides meaning because it deals with a cause or passion that is very important to the giver and, many times, helps improve his or her “hometown” and those living in the community. Hence, it may be very emotionally appealing. Many times, social impact investing’s financial return on investment (ROI) is lower than normal commercial rates, but there is a social return (SROI) that brings meaning and reward for the social impact investor. Normally this is a third priority in terms of giving—coming after the higher priorities of personal relationships and the nonprofit sector. However, this last category of beneficiaries should not be ignored. It may be especially appealing to entrepreneurs, local professionals and business owners, and those who want to invest in their local community in an effort to make it a better place and a better environment for all.

With this brief introduction to the three categories of beneficiaries of our giving, I encourage you to take a moment and reflect upon your own giving priorities. Is it in fact directed first toward your family and other personal relationships? And then, secondly towards targeted charitable organizations that do social and environmental good? Most people do not have the additional financial resources to invest for social impact, but if they do, it may be a very viable alternative for those fortunate enough to be in the financial position to do more; especially if their financial resources include real estate, business, or financial assets.

So if we can, let's each take a moment and look back on our own giving to reflect and ensure that we are intentional and that we are giving to the priorities that are important to us. We should each focus on the categories of beneficiaries that make the most sense for us and bring the most meaning to our lives. In the future, we will introduce in more depth additional insights, tools, strategies, and new philanthropic practices that allow us to become more intentional with our giving so we can have a real, direct impact on those causes that are truly important to us.

Let's do some good!


Coming Next: Engaging the Heart and Head for Smart Giving


©2019 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.