Greater Good Blog

Taking the Stress Out of End-of-Year Giving

Betsy Erickson
Taking the Stress Out of End-of-Year Giving

Around this time every year, questions stream in from our clients and their advisors about the best ways to close out their giving for the year. Between supporting their favorite charities and finding tax efficiencies, our clients are looking for meaningful ways to maximize their impact. The events of 2020—the COVID-19 pandemic, climate catastrophes, and the racial unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd—have made this year’s giving even more urgent and consequential.

Closer to home holiday anxieties have increased, too. Many families are struggling with how to connect with loved ones and pass down values to younger generations when they are physically apart. It’s challenging to balance the new complexities and demands of everyday routines with thoughtful decision making about future plans and goals. In a landscape filled with new opportunities and priorities, Arabella is here to provide guidance on the two most common questions we get this time of year:

“How do I smartly give money away fast?”

No one likes to feel rushed, especially when they’re trying to weigh tough decisions about how to support the causes they believe in. Despite the end-of-year deadline, making smart choices doesn’t have to be agonizing. In most cases, targeted landscape research and comprehensive due diligence on potential grant recipients can help donors identify smart, high-impact opportunities on even the tightest of timelines. Arabella’s wide-ranging work with hundreds of the world’s leading philanthropists means we have a deep well of experience and connections to support you in this endeavor.

Given the pressing needs of 2020, Arabella has also compiled guidance on fast, effective giving strategies for responding to on-the-ground needs and opportunities, including:

For clients who are short on bandwidth, we recommend a donor-advised fund or other vehicle that allows funders to get money out the door quickly and revisit their giving strategy during a quieter time.

“Am I achieving the right kind of impact? Am I heading in the right direction?”

The end of the year is a natural time for philanthropists to consider the impact of their giving strategy. Arabella equips our clients to have productive year-end conversations, whether at the board room or dining room table (or over Zoom). We offer our donors and donor families prompts for reflection about the scale, focus, and time horizon of their philanthropy as well as their plans to engage future generations. We’ve also developed ways to have these conversations in virtual settings. Occasionally, we connect our clients with other funders who have experienced the same challenges, so donors can benefit from the support and insights of their peers. However, Arabella also believes this is a great time of year to engage in longer-term philanthropy planning. Because the landscapes of many issues—education, food security, women and girls’ issues, the environment, and more—have drastically changed in recent months, it’s a strategic time to assess the impact of past grant making, develop or update effective strategies for core issues, or even launch new initiatives clients have been contemplating for some time.

Philanthropy doesn’t need to be one more stressful item on a client’s to-do list. Arabella is eager to help. Our team of family and individual philanthropy experts can be facilitators, professional sounding boards, researchers dedicated to maximizing your impact, or operational support teams that can optimize efficiency so you can focus on the aspects of your giving that are most important to you.


Betsy Erickson leads Arabella’s work with family and individual clients, supporting them to further their learning, collaboration, and philanthropic goals.

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