How to Assess the Impact of Your Charitable Giving

Here are five simple ways to 'do this, not that' when trying to find out from a nonprofit what kind of impact your donations are having.

A woman works on her laptop at her dining room table.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As you take stock of your finances around tax season, it’s an ideal time to reflect on last year’s charitable giving. While the size of the number you log as “gifts to charity” on your tax return matters a great deal, what matters more is the impact those dollars enabled.

Every donor wants to know their dollars made a difference. But you may find defining “impact” is not as straightforward as you hoped, and it can be hard to know which factors and questions to consider when assessing the impact of your charitable giving.

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Catherine Crystal Foster
Vice President, Advisory, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Catherine Crystal Foster is vice president of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) Advisory team. In her role, she provides strategic guidance across program areas for families, foundations, and corporations to accelerate social impact. Prior to joining RPA, she served as CEO and co-founder of Magnify Community, where she worked with Silicon Valley philanthropists to make bold and catalytic investments in the community. Catherine has led and advised philanthropic and nonprofit organizations for more than 20 years.