Joe Bantz, CFP®, AIF®

Sometimes the needs around us are such that it seems impossible to make a difference. There are spiritual needs, emotional needs, mental health, refugees, homelessness, educational disparity, natural disasters, economic crises, … the list seems endless. How can an individual or family make a difference?

One way is to focus. When the Foster Group Charitable Giving Team began six years ago, the first item of business was to identify a target. The results of this conversation has guided us through the years, as we consider the many requests for corporate giving that we receive each year. You may find it helpful as well.

Consider an area that you’d like to really impact. For example, perhaps you may want to impact the millions worldwide displaced by war and disease. Next, hone in on a key aspect of this, such as war refugees in Des Moines (or your home town). This is your focus – target a majority of your giving in this area. As requests and needs become known, filter them through this screen, identifying just how close to the “bulls eye” the request is.

In similar fashion, decide what’s OUTSIDE the target – areas you choose not to give to. Yes, it’s okay to say NO! As an example, our team does not give to school or political organizations. While there is certainly nothing wrong with such organizations, we decided as a team not to “open that can of worms.”  So, whenever we get a request in that area, the decision is very simple – “No.”

My wife and I have done this for our charitable giving – we have a primary target, then work out from there in discerning where our charitable dollars are given. Besides the freedom that comes from having the guidelines, the discussions held provide for increased opportunity to stay on the same page . . . and that’s a really good thing!




PLEASE NOTE LIMITATIONS: Please see Important Disclosure Information and the limitations of any ranking/recognitions, at A copy of our current written disclosure statement as set forth on Part 2A of Form ADV is available at