One-time or recurring disbursements – what helps nonprofits most?

If you give through the Christian Community Foundation, it’s likely that your goal is to be strategic and impactful with the grants you request out of your donor-advised fund. This requires a level of planning that many families and individuals typically don’t remember or prioritize as part of their giving. So…how do you decide which giving method is best for you and/or the grantees of your choice. Is it more helpful to make one large annual contribution? Are recurring gifts actually helpful? Here are things to consider when creating a grant disbursement plan for your donor-advised fund.

About recurring gifts

Increasingly, nonprofits are developing multiple tracks for givers to follow. Upon submitting an online gift, many donors are prompted to consider if they’d like to make this gift monthly, becoming a participant in a subscription-like donation model. You might wonder if this is merely a cash grab, an opportunity to capture the generosity of donors who might make an errant click that starts them on an ongoing giving journey they may not realize they’re on for several months. But in reality, recurring donations can play an important role in nonprofit planning and management AND can be helpful to donors whose budget requires smaller, more frequent donations.

Donors who submit monthly recurring grants (via donor central) can possibly enable nonprofits to make important purchasing and investment decisions for the future because they can estimate how much money will come to them through promised donations. Of course, the donor can withdraw from the program at any time, so the estimation is still just a best guess.

One time or recurring, which is right for me?

So, should you give larger, one-time gifts or should you space out your donations throughout the year as part of an ongoing, recurring donation? Which is more impactful? The truth is that both are impactful and can benefit the organization in which you are investing and the answer may depend upon the organization and timing. For example, if an organization you love is running a limited-time capital campaign to replace its roof, a one-time donation can help them reach its goal better than a recurring monthly donation could. If that same nonprofit is launching a new program that will run into perpetuity, recurring donations can help meet programmatic needs for months or years to come.

How do I do it?

If you’re requesting a grant through CCF, both opportunities are available to you. Through Donor Central, you can request a one-time grant from your phone, tablet or computer at any time. You can also set up a recurring donation from your fund, which will send the nonprofit of your choosing a check at a cadence you determine. The beauty of a donor-advised fund is that the way you disburse grants really doesn’t matter. You receive the tax benefit upon investment into your DAF, not when you request a grant.

What else should I know?

One-time and recurring gifts to a nonprofit will come to them in the form of a check from the Christian Community Foundation with your name on it (unless you choose to remain anonymous). This means that you won’t be enrolled in recurring monthly donation programs the organization has unless you discuss it with the nonprofit you invest in before you start making recurring donations.