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End-of-the-Year Giving Review

The end of the year is time for most of us to review and reflect on the past year. We may think about how we didn’t make the sales like we intended or we launch the product like we planned, or that vacation trip we wanted to take didn’t quite make the calendar. Our companies charitable giving should also have the same focus.

Charitable giving, whether you are a company owner, a foundation trustee, or a donor deserves the same reflection at year’s end.  Why? Because giving is driven by some sort of goal, it is intentional and an expression of values. Donors, businesses and foundations should reflect on their giving over the past year and review the gifts they made and why. Businesses and foundations in particular need to review and evaluate the success of their giving as a way to redirect their strategies and improve their giving impact in communities.  Why? Because companies and foundations have a responsibility to invest their charitable gifts or grants in a manner that strategically impacts people and communities. Donor’s giving is also driven by some goal or reason and using an asset that they worked hard for or saved for. This sounds hard, but giving is a way of investing assets and you want to be able to measure successes so that in the long run you find ways to improve giving as a way for improving lives.

Reviewing year-end giving can be done in different ways. There’s the long-way that uses evaluation methods to show impact and results. This can be an involved and lengthy process and is highly recommended for foundations and corporations.  Face it, corporations and foundations are results oriented and without knowing what your giving results are— you don’t know how effective you’ve been. For small and medium size companies and donors, a simpler strategy can give you the information you want or need to effectively plan giving for next year. 

Here are a few questions you can ask to review your past year giving:

  1. Did you keep your giving in line with your financial plan?

  2. Did your contributions reflect what you most care about?

  3. Were your contributions used as you intended?

  4. Did the organization meet its goals?

These are by no means all the questions that should be asked.  Review or evaluation is unique for each foundation, company and donor. But the bottom–line is you do reviews to know if your giving was effective. 

By doing a year-end review, you can determine direction for the year ahead that will make your giving more meaningful and successful.  The process helps you to re-think who you give to and why, and what your give and why.

Review of your charitable giving helps you better meet your philanthropic goals and make a real difference at the same time.

This Business article was written by Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D on 1/16/2006

Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D., is the Principal and Owner of givingadvice, a firm that develops giving programs for corporations and foundations to create both community and bottom-line impact. Email: or Visit