Don’t Be a Peanut Butter Philanthropist

With regards to your charitable giving, are you sporadic or intentional? Do you give little quantities to a number of causes or slender your contributions to a choose few? Sporadic givers who give little quantities to a number of organizations might not realize it, however they’re “peanut butter philanthropists.” Their noble generosity is real and appreciated. Nevertheless, for those who’re a peanut butter philanthropist, you are able to do higher. 

Take into consideration this anecdotal instance whereas placing your self within the nonprofit group’s footwear:

Whereas working on the nonprofit, you obtain a notification that somebody charged their bank card to present your group $20. You add $20 to your common working fund. Then you need to pay the bank card processing charges, present a tax receipt to the philanthropist, add the philanthropist’s title to the record of givers to whom you’ll ship annual studies and different future requests to present extra, and in addition put the cash towards the trigger that motivated the giver to present. That’s plenty of work for $20.

And as a peanut butter philanthropist, chances are you’ll be giving comparable $20 donations to a number of charities.

My pleasant problem to you: Enhance your giving technique so you can also make a distinction, as a substitute of being an administrative drag.

* An essential level to make: Small-dollar donors are typically heroes. Some small donations come from households that give a bigger share of their revenue when in comparison with increased earners. Nevertheless, this text is talking to those that have the means and, extra essential, the will to present in a big, higher, and extra tax-efficient means. 

I’ll focus on …

  • the backstory on this “peanut butter” idea,
  • the right way to slender your focus,
  • methods to decide to a giving plan, and
  • The way to make your {dollars} go additional with tax-efficient giving.

What’s a Peanut Butter Philanthropist?

The Peanut Butter Manifesto was a memo shared in 2006 from a Yahoo! Senior vp, Brad Garlinghouse. The memo was then circulated by The Wall Avenue Journal to carry this “peanut butter” idea into the enterprise vernacular. 

On this memo, Garlinghouse challenged the corporate, saying that it was ineffectively spreading cash and different sources round to a number of efforts. It was spreading the sources skinny — like spreading peanut butter on a bit of toast. He challenged the corporate to shift that mentality to redirect these sources to fewer intentional tasks so the corporate may make some worthwhile and important breakthroughs in additional centered methods.

Leaders within the philanthropic area have adopted this comparable peanut butter metaphor to explain the well-intentioned givers who solely give small quantities to a number of organizations. Whereas it feels good to present to a number of causes, the philanthropist misses alternatives to make important impacts. The authors of “Give Good: Philanthropy that Will get Outcomes,” shared this quote of their ebook:


Give Smart Philanthropy That Gets Results

You may carry this mentality to your charitable giving technique to make a greater influence. Let’s discover how in a three-step course of.

Step 1: Slim your Focus

A standard problem I hear when discussing charitable giving with shoppers is that the shopper doesn’t have a corporation that “pulls at their heartstrings.” The shopper then settles right into a peanut butter technique as a result of they need to make a distinction however are uncertain how. Thus, when impulsive moments occur — like when a information story breaks, a good friend asks you to donate to their marathon, or one other scenario happens — they provide money by way of e-check or bank card by a nonprofit’s giving web page. 

Dangent: An sudden perk of making a giving plan with a spotlight is that you could alleviate the guilt when saying “no” to all these fundraising requests. 

It’s possible you’ll already know which organizations you like to give attention to. However these nonetheless within the discovery part of their philanthropic journeys want to begin performing some analysis to search out causes they care about. Take a step again and determine what makes you tick as a philanthropist. 

You are able to do this by asking your self three questions:

  1. What do I need to see extra of on this planet?
  2. What do I need to see much less of on this planet?
  3. What do I hope lasts a number of lifetimes?

When answering these three questions, you may have the prospect to determine sure themes that you simply worth and that you could be need to decide to in a big means. You may then have a particular “rabbit gap” to slender your analysis. On-line search engines like google and yahoo can assist you discover native, nationwide, or world organizations that do work significant to you. 

That will help you in your analysis, listed below are some standard on-line portals. These philanthropic hubs include scores in addition to list-focused rankings:

Consumer examples: Some shoppers add charitable giving targets to their monetary plans. Because of this we will determine a financial worth on which to then nudge the shopper to comply with by. Whereas not all shoppers attain this objective, I hope that, by finishing step one, they may have organizations in thoughts to which they’re excited to present.

And, for those who want some additional assist figuring out themes upon which to slender your focus, be taught from the United Nations’ record of Sustainable Improvement Targets that will help you determine which causes “pull at your heartstrings.”

Sustainable Development Goals

Step 2: Think about How You’ll Commit

In philanthropy, it’s essential to recollect that you’ve three treasured sources to present. When you determine a trigger and a corporation that you simply imagine could make a deeper distinction — versus a small peanut butter donation — you may examine the way you need to commit one or lots of your treasured sources.


You may assist at a soup kitchen, mentor somebody, dig ditches, rake leaves for an aged neighbor, paint over graffiti, plant timber, ship meals, or every other strategy to do significant — but unglamorous — work for causes you care about. These duties aren’t at all times fairly, however these volunteering to do them can lower your expenses and sources for philanthropic organizations. 

By donating your time to those duties, the paid employees can direct their energies elsewhere. Thus, the precious sources of the group — the expert employees and the funds used to pay them — can profit the general public good in a extra environment friendly method. And, by being a frequent volunteer, the group can start to depend on you and give you extra obligations — thus making an much more important influence.


To remain on the theme of giving important sources (your treasure), I’m going to give attention to two areas: Cash and Biology.


Causes require cash to make a distinction, and bigger donations make an even bigger distinction. Going again to my earlier instance of the work a nonprofit does when receiving a $20 donation, take into consideration how a lot additional a bigger donation goes to justify the executive value of being a steward of the acquired cash. When you’re uninterested in being a peanut butter philanthropist, begin getting actual about how a lot you need to donate and the place. This focus can assist you “transfer the needle” in your charitable giving and within the causes you care about.

Consumer Examples: Concerning giving to charity, how a lot is an aspirational objective and the way a lot is a sensible objective? We can assist you determine inside your cash-flow planning consultations and inside your total monetary plan how a lot charitable giving is smart in your distinctive scenario.


Not all folks have the monetary sources to present important quantities of cash to philanthropic efforts. So, to instill current you with a pleasant problem, turn into a frequent blood donor, or register to turn into an organ donor. These beneficiant acts are important contributions that don’t fall into the peanut butter class as a result of, when folks want these sources, these organizations make an enormous distinction.


Within the earlier two angles of philanthropy, you give again by volunteering or giving stuff. Now it’s time to take an energetic position in your neighborhood — regionally or globally. 

You’ve expertise that you need to use to assist others. It’s possible you’ll be helpful or be capable of use your work-related expertise to assist nonprofits. Discover methods to steadily assist causes by contributing your expertise to worthwhile causes. First, that you must analyze what expertise you may lend to a corporation after which determine how. 

You could possibly:

Be part of your native Social Enterprise Companions (SVP) chapter to be an engaged philanthropist as a nonprofit advisor so you may enhance different nonprofits’ enterprise infrastructures.

Serve on a nonprofit board to raised a particular space.

Try Boardnet USA and be taught how nonprofits use LinkedIn to search out new board members.

Ask nonprofit leaders what expertise they need from their board members.

Volunteer in your native commerce affiliation to raised your career.

For instance, for those who’re a dentist, kind in your search bar: “<your city> dental affiliation”. Do this along with your present career or the career you’re searching for to enter.

Observe: These 501(c)6 nonprofit organizations give attention to frequent enterprise pursuits versus neighborhood good.

When you’re a enterprise proprietor, donate a portion of what you are promoting efforts to a nonprofit.

Attain out to leaders of nonprofits and/or area people organizations and ask the place they suggest you contribute with the abilities you may have.

Step 3: Take Motion!

Put your newly created giving plan into motion and discover methods to let your efforts and {dollars} go additional! As an alternative of giving slightly in a sporadic vogue, commit to creating important contributions to fewer causes — both by committing extra time and expertise to your causes or by donating extra. By doing this, you may higher leverage some tax-efficient methods to donate to charity.


One strategy to shift your mindset is to attempt to not give money out of your bank card or checking account. As an alternative, attempt to give appreciated belongings so you may keep away from capital positive factors taxes — thus giving more cash to your trigger and paying much less in taxes.

To offer a high-level instance: Say that Jordan desires to present an $80,000 inventory place to their favourite charitable trigger this 12 months. They paid $30,000 to accumulate this inventory a number of years in the past. Jordan and the charity can each profit with slightly planning.

Giving Stock to a Public Charity

As you may see on this instance, giving the inventory to charity permits Jordan to direct more cash to the charity and in addition forestall a taxable occasion in the event that they have been to promote the inventory place.


To enhance your total charity giving plan so you can also make a greater influence on the causes you care about, try our upcoming webinar, Methods for Tax-Environment friendly Giving.

Two consultants from Schwab Charitable will current well timed tax-smart methods to maximise your charitable giving influence. Matters embody:

  • Charitable tendencies and the present giving setting
  • 5 tax-efficient charitable giving methods in 2022
  • The Schwab Charitable Giving Information, a complete instrument that helps you construct a strategic giving plan
  • Further philanthropic sources that will help you and your loved ones maximize your charitable influence

Since this can be a webinar, no snacks might be offered. And if we have been going to supply snacks, you might be sure that we might’ve provided one thing with peanut butter! We sit up for seeing you on the webinar, and please tell us if you wish to have a extra in-depth dialog about charitable giving!

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