I live, and I give, in Alaska

Dennis McMillian changed my life.

Don’t know who he is? Don’t worry. I didn’t either. I’d been at ACF for almost a year when I had the unfortunate realization that there was no guiding principal behind my own personal philanthropy.

I’d been shooting from the hip for years, let alone not defining my philanthropic giving as philanthropic giving.

I gave to whoever asked me. Everything I did was episodic and I constantly used the excuse of being a “poor college student who couldn’t afford more than a minimum donation” to cover my stinginess at giving the bare minimum.

That’s where Dennis stepped in.

I was doing my customary Google searches for fun excerpts to post on Twitter when I stumbled upon Dennis’s February 2014 newsletter article, Building your personal philanthropy plan.

Clearly, Dennis has a philanthropic giving plan.

And he inspired me to make one.

My excuses were just that – excuses. If someone making $10,000 could give and give consistently, I could too. What made me feel worse was finding out that those on the lower end of the income scale had been picking up my slack for so very long. Their giving had increased over 16% in the last six years while my overall yearly giving was flat-lined.

Eight years after graduating with my undergraduate and I had no idea what a meaningful gift meant to me.

That was just not right. I needed a plan. I needed a plan, badly.

Modeling my giving after my family’s philanthropic principles, I committed 10% of my after-tax earnings to the things I cared about. I decided to make monthly reoccurring gifts to up to four organizations each year, but I would continue to make episodic gifts when I felt moved to do so.

That’s it. That’s my plan for giving. Yeah – it’s pretty basic, but it gets at the heart of the matter. And it works for me. For now.

I care deeply about my community. I love equality, the Nome Food Bank, Farthest North [Girl Scouts] Council, KNOM, nonjudgmental health care for women – and I always have found a dime to give when the ask came. My giving plan connects my passion for the things I care about while supporting the organizations that matter most to me. I am building my own philanthropic legacy.

It really was that simple.

Yours can be that simple too.

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