Many of us want to help those in need, but often, we are overwhelmed and do not know where to start. This year offers a new opportunity to begin crafting an intentional giving plan. Much like a budget, a giving plan needs to be well thought-through. You should have clear goals of what you would like to accomplish and a clear idea of what your giving will mean to the grantee.

Helping people is more complicated than just making a donation, though. Giving to others should not only be impactful, but should be done responsibly. It takes careful consideration and purpose. Instead of focusing just on giving money or goods, we should focus on giving dignity too.

Giving and restoring dignity is a gift that lasts beyond what is tangible. Arguably, it could be said that how you give is more important than what you give.

At Valcare, a social investment management organization, we strive to ensure that every grantee feels respected and valued. Our messaging focuses on positivity, instead of neglect and poverty. We portray grantees as thriving, rather than suffering. Our goal is to inspire hope, not pity.

As an example, we are careful never to photograph beneficiaries eating or seemingly struggling — many already have a clear mental picture of that stereotypical image of the runny-nose, hungry African child, and we have no desire to reinforce that. By portraying people when they are suffering, we take away their humanity. In contrast, centering — and giving with — dignity not only cultivates self-worth within the grantee, but it also gives them hope for a better future.

So, as you undertake creating a giving plan this year, we wanted to share some essential advice based on our own approach as a grantmaker, from considering what kind of giver you are, to being considerate as a giver, and centering dignity.

Read the fiull article about centering dignity by Esté Beerwinkel at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.