How To Spend Your Giving Budget—Before Time Runs Out

Running out of time to spend your company’s philanthropic budget before the end of the year? Make the most of your team’s charitable funds with these tips.


The end of the year in corporate philanthropy can go one of two ways. It’s either a time to reflect on a job well-done or a mad dash to spend down your giving budget before the U.S. tax year closes! If you find yourself rushing against the clock, you’re not alone. It’s hard to predict community needs and make charitable decisions. But you’ll want to take full advantage by spending all of your philanthropic budget, because it’s often “use it or lose it.”

To that end, we’ve prepared a list of ways to spend down your budget before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. Try these five ideas to meet your philanthropic budget now and in the future:

    1. Look closer at undersupported regions or program areas.

    In some cases, this year’s underspending in a specific area will jeopardize the budget allocated for that portfolio next year. Examine why charitable spending may be lower than expected. For example, are organizations still struggling with the spread of COVID-19 and could use help to purchase PPE to resume in-person programming? Listen to regional leaders and employees with knowledge of the community.

    2. Deploy flexible grants to trusted partners.

    If you have exhausted all efforts to find new nonprofit partners for your giving portfolio, consider channeling flexible funding toward partners you know you can trust. Avoid overburdening them with requirements to submit a new grant application on a deadline. Instead, have them provide a few sentences to explain their highest priority need and give them an unrestricted grant. This honors their knowledge and gives flexibility for their evolving needs.

    3. Incentivize employees to meet giving targets.

    If your company appreciates a friendly competition, consider offering a prize or award for employee groups or offices that spend down their philanthropic budgets. Make a public announcement across the whole company and repeat that message at least three times in a follow-up email, intranet post, or short video from a senior executive. In a hybrid work environment, employees are especially eager for ways to connect with their teammates and even the simplest of prizes (stickers, a custom virtual video background, or a charitable gift card) may motivate your team.

    4. Listen to your colleagues.

    Schedule time to talk directly with regional leaders and listen to any challenges they face. Perhaps they are unsure about the end-of-year spending deadline or need a reminder of which pre-vetted nonprofits in your portfolio can readily receive flexible grant funding. Gathering your team on a call can also enable them to more easily share ideas across regions and solve problems together.

    5. Connect with peers at other companies.

    You are not the only one with an approaching deadline before the end of year. Reach out to colleagues who manage CSR programming at other companies to learn from their processes. Consider joining a LinkedIn group or professional network that can connect you with peers.

    Bonus: Plan ahead for next year.

    While planning ahead for 2022 may not spend down your current budget, start thinking strategically now to avoid similar pressure at the end of next year. Host a call with team leaders in regions that appear to be falling short of their targets early in the year to get ahead of any issues. Share your 2022 budget targets as soon as they are ready, so your colleagues can prepare accordingly. Then, set up regular check-ins with your team to review their spending and adjust forecasts if needed.

As you work to spend down your giving budget before the end of the year, remember that your effort is bringing needed resources to communities around the world so they can thrive. That is something to celebrate!

Learn how GlobalGiving can help your company strategically plan your CSR programming.


Featured Photo: Help Strengthen the Resilience of Syrian Refugees by Concern Worldwide US

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