July 2, 2018

Why You Need a Giving Policy? How Can You Write a Good One?

Woman writing on an easel board.Getting too many requests for donations? Failing to get intriguing applications? Here are just three, of a half dozen, reasons why a giving policy, will help you to solve these challenges and more.

  1. Superior Investments 

The process of making a policy invites you to clarify your values without dealing with specific individuals or causes at the same time. Using the policy will improve your decision-making. As you review proposals, you’ll think, “We love this, and it fits with our values. How could we design this to create even better results for us, the nonprofit, and the community?”


Bristol-Myers Squibb’s policy describes what they do, the principles they use to review requests and their requirements.

  1. Better than Garlic 

Garlic helps ward off vampires. Your giving policy will help you to ward off awkward, unhelpful, and time-consuming requests. Not only will you save time, the policy will help nonprofit’s staff to focus on ideal partnerships.


The policy of Canadian grocer, Loblaws focuses on three areas: healthy, active kids; feeding neighbors in partnership with Food Banks Canada’s; and greening communities. Their website lists four bullet points about the types of requests they consider and a dozen about what’s they don’t fund. They also include how to apply and the average response time, tips that reduce late applications, and request coming inside doors.

  1. Soar Onward and Upward

A giving policy, developed by your team—not copied from another firm—identifies partnerships of interest and your goals. Great alliances provide high value to your firm, including improved branding, employee satisfaction, and a friendlier business climate. Clear goals, especially ones that outline how the giving will impact the firm increase the odds of achieving multiple goals.


HCA Healthcare Policy outlines contributions of interest that “advance a public purpose (health/wellness, safety, cultural, general welfare) and (my emphasis) a corporate purpose (furtherance of the Company’s interests, image, and responsibilities.)”

Return on Philanthropy: Your Words and Your Bottom Line

The value of developing a giving policy results from the discussion you have creating it—at first. Over time, the value grows. It leads to improved investment decisions, better partnerships, and goal clarity that support measuring your impact.

Your Challenge

Do you have a giving policy? If yes, in what ways is it helpful? If no, what keeps you from creating one? Let me know you’re giving back questions.


Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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