As we enter the season of giving, charitable giving is top of mind. I love this time of year. Everything seems to glow a bit brighter. While my runs turn colder, I enjoy seeing the seasons change. Watching as the lights go up in the Parkway and neighborhood houses are spruced up with festive decorations reminds me of all the wonderful memories made this time of year.
As the holidays roll around, we also embrace this time of year with generosity and gratitude. As a business owner, volunteer, and parent, I feel thankful for the things I have, and I love finding ways of giving back to my community. As a financial professional and wealth advisor, I also love guiding my clients through the charitable giving process.
How to Think About Charitable Giving
Whether you are new to charitable giving, or you’ve been donating for years, these tips can help maximize your giving and ensure it is meaningful and impactful.
Make it rewarding
Giving is most rewarding when it aligns with our values. Our values are the general expression of what’s important to us and they motivate our actions. For instance, I value healthy living and exercise, which is why I was up before sunrise to get a workout in this morning. That’s just one example. You may value beauty, equality, or learning. If you are unsure of what your set of values are, look at how you spend your time and pay attention to your gut reactions to the world around you. The better you know your values and find ways to support them through charitable giving, the more fulfilled you will feel.
Involve your family.
There is knowing ourselves and then there is involving our families. This can be tricky because everyone has their own unique set of beliefs, even if you come from the same household. A good first step is to find that common ground within your value set. If you can identify that anchor space, you can then give each other some freedom and latitude to identify causes, organizations, and ways to supporting those values.
Create a giving framework.
I don’t know who coined the phrase to give of your time, treasure, and talent, but I love thinking of charitable giving in those terms. It’s just a matter of finding the mix that is going to work for you and your family. In my family, my husband leads the charge with giving of his time and talent. He is the forever youth sports coach, coaching year-round soccer, lacrosse, and basketball. It is a lot of night and weekend hours. I couldn’t be prouder of him and, as a family, my kids love it! In our family, I tend to organize more of our treasure giving.
Organizing Your Charitable Giving
A successful framework that I have witnessed both personally and with clients is breaking out your treasure into three buckets:
- Impulse giving: Typically, smaller gifts. They may be in support of a cause that is important to a friend or neighbor.
- Annual giving: These tend to be mid-sized gifts and may be given to organizations in a consistent and supportive way.
- Impact giving: These are larger gifts and may only be made every few years. They may be part of a larger capital campaign or special project that you feel passionate about supporting.
How and When to Execute Charitable Giving
Philanthropy cannot only give you great personal satisfaction, it can also offer tax benefits now and in the future. It is usually towards the end of the year that we all think about where and how to give of our treasure.
There are also many ways to give to charity. You can make gifts during your lifetime or at your death. Gifts can also be made outright or by way of a trust. You can name a charity as a beneficiary in your Will or designate a charity as a beneficiary of your retirement plan or life insurance policy. If your gift is substantial, you can establish a private foundation, community foundation, or donor-advised fund. There are many options to explore. All the more reason to engage with a financial advisor, ideally a Certified Financial Planner™, to discuss when, how, and what types of charitable giving are right for you and your family.