Charitable Giving and Your Personal Finances

Philanthropy is Full-Anthropy

Has anyone ever asked you what you would do if you had all of the money in the world? Most commonly, people respond with, “I’d buy a bigger house or travel.” This is often followed by, “I’d donate more money to charity.”

People who are charitably inclined usually are living a rich, full life. We all have some affinity to a specific charity we like to support. As a Financial Life Planner, I have come to learn that charitable giving is an important goal for most people. Yet most of us don’t have a process for funding this goal.

A simple way to meet your charitable goals is to contribute to a Donor Advised Fund (DAF). A DAF is like a holding account created by a sponsoring charity that holds contributions from various donors and manages the charitable donations. The DAF will send you a quarterly statement of your contributions, along with a gift receipt for tax purposes. These contributions can then be distributed to qualifying charities at some point in the future.

You can usually deduct the full value of the charitable gift – whether it is appreciated stock (avoiding capital gain), or cash. The deduction is subject to adjusted gross income limitations. The gift is irrevocable and is also separate from your estate. Any income or growth in the fund is not tax deductible BUT is exempt from taxes. Once the gift is made, you can recommend how the donation is invested, through asset allocation strategies. You can name successors to the account, who then can manage the fund and make grant recommendations. This provides for a legacy of giving that can last for many generations.

You can get your kids or spouses involved and create your own account title. I know families who have semi-annual meetings with their kids and grandkids to discuss where the grants should go. What a great way to introduce philanthropy to kids!

The DAF accounts can be set up with as little as $5,000. You can support multiple charities with a single donation, usually with as little as $100. When you are ready to recommend to the DAF to make a gift to a specific charity, you just fill out a form and mail it to the DAF. The donation from the DAF can be anonymous, or can have your name identified as the donor.

What part do philanthropy and charitable giving play in your value system? Think about causes and organizations you would like to help. Most people that give to charity are happier and healthier. They experience a sense of satisfaction of helping people or specific causes.

John Templeton wrote: “Happiness comes from spiritual wealth, not material wealth… Happiness comes from giving, not getting. If we try hard to bring happiness to others, we can not stop it from coming to us also. To get joy, we must give it, and to keep joy, we must scatter it.”

Please note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.