I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it because I know it to be unambiguously true, and because I think potential donors always need to hear it: when we know we can do more to make an impact, we want to do more.

But, how do we figure that out? It starts with making a detailed financial plan with the help of your advisor. You have to know where you stand in your ability to meet your needs and wants for the future before you can consider doing more with your money. Once that’s in place, we can have the conversation about your legacy and your philanthropic vision.

It’s critical to find a balance that allows you to give long-term to the causes you care about while preserving your long-term retirement goals. That’s why I use the qualifier planned charitable giving when I discuss philanthropy with my clients. Like our financial and retirement plans, we need to be checking back in on the status of our giving plan with regularity.

If your retirement plan needs more attention, it’s OK to scale back your giving a little until you are back on track. It can even be possible to structure your gifts in ways that provides tax-advantaged reinforcement for your financial goals. Giving and your retirement plan are not mutually exclusive.

Staying updated on our giving capacity will change the way you approach philanthropy, and your retirement.

You can improve your experience.

If your giving is putting your financial goals and security in peril, your experience with philanthropy won’t be one of joy and fulfillment, but rather one of resentment and stress. The best way to avoid this is closely monitoring all of your financial plans so that you can make adjustments that make sense for you and keeps philanthropy in your life. More than working around your financial plan, updating it regularly could mean that you can ramp up your planned giving and increase your impact. When you can make a bigger difference, you’ll get more out of giving.

You can get creative.

When we breakdown our finances and really assess where our money goes, we can make serious adjustments to our habits that help us achieve our goals and also free up funds that can serve the causes we care about. Sometimes finding the way to give needs to get highly granular, and that’s OK, don’t shy away. It can show you some saving and giving strategies that you might not have previously considered. Donating your home or life insurance policies are two substantial ways you can give while mitigating your expenses and earning you a tax break. That’s money in your pocket and an asset gained for your cause.

You can control your legacy.

A major benefit of philanthropy, irrespective of the charity or nonprofit you choose to support, is that your giving and the difference you make builds your legacy. If you aren’t staying updated on your giving capacity and need to cut funding before your vision is complete, you are compromising your legacy. We want to make sure the job is done and that we are leaving behind a better world with the money we earned and the choices we made. If you aren’t in control of your financial plan, your giving plan will suffer, and your legacy will risk being built by forces beyond your control. Knowing exactly what action you can take with your money and when will position you better to construct the exact legacy you want.

If you’re seeking a financial planner who can assist you in all aspects of your financial future—spending plans, retirement plans, planned giving, and legacy planning—I can help, with a thoughtful, philanthropy-guided philosophy. First, find out if charity makes sense for you. Take my free assessment:  http://patrickrenn.com/making-legacy-count/