Learning to Give Wisely

Charitable giving is a deeply personal experience, and when done effectively, it not only brings real benefit to the recipients, it also can bring great joy and satisfaction to the giver. The Community Foundation of Louisville works in many ways to help our fundholders have a more meaningful charitable giving experience, from creating opportunities to learn about new and innovative programs, to connecting fundholders to each other around common areas of interest. By doing so, we hope to help our fundholders make their greatest impact through philanthropy that is as unique as they are.

Last fall, the Community Foundation of Louisville brought together a group of fundholders for Giving Wisely, a program designed to help participants become more active, engaged, and intentional philanthropists. Fundholders at every stage in their philanthropic journey were invited to apply, and since early November, the small cohort of five has met bi-weekly to learn and share with Foundation staff and other guest speakers.

Through this program, we hope to empower individuals to discover the values they want to drive their giving, to think critically about how they give, and to discover the joy that can be found in giving with intention.

“We hear regularly from our fundholders that they want to be more strategic in their giving, or they want to make a greater impact in the areas they care about most,” said Anne McKune, Director of Philanthropy at the Foundation and facilitator of Giving Wisely. “We want to give participants the tools they need to help ensure that their philanthropic resources are being put to good use.”

With a mix of facilitated discussion, group and personal activities, and peer-to-peer learning, Giving Wisely offers the participants the opportunity to look deeper into what motivates them to give, to explore the challenges and benefits of involving multiple generations in giving, and to understand the shifting best practices in grantmaking that are addressing the power imbalances inherent in the world of philanthropy.

Giving Wisely has also provided the participants the opportunity to connect to and learn from each other – something many of our fundholders have identified as a key benefit of working with the Community Foundation of Louisville. According to program participants, philanthropy can be hard and lonely work. With best practices changing, new models of giving emerging, and community needs seeming more urgent than ever before, the pressure to do philanthropy “right” can be overwhelming. Having a cohort of peers and being equipped with the right tools can help you more easily navigate the journey.

“My late husband and I had what might be called an ‘established philanthropic practice,’ in that we consistently supported causes close to our hearts. At the time of his death, we had been talking about areas in which we might make a greater impact, but we had not yet identified those areas,” said one program participant who chose to remain anonymous. “Through Giving Wisely, I hoped to gain the tools to help me discern where I can make the greatest impact and to be in the company of others who are on that same journey of discernment. And I am so grateful to have found both of those things through this program.”

The inaugural program wrapped up last week, with the five participants each creating a personalized plan for their charitable giving. Giving Wisely will be offered again in 2022. If you are interested in learning about future sessions of the Giving Wisely program, please email Anne McKune at annemc@cflouisville.org with Giving Wisely in the subject line.