Now we come to our final post about philanthropy. For most people, the suggestions I’ve offered in previous posts will suffice to help them give more intentionally.
But some folks might want to do more. So, I thought I’d introduce some more sophisticated ways of sharing your treasure.
You can gift stock, real estate, and other significant property. Some things, like your old car, are fairly easy to donate. Many charities give instructions for such donations on their website. they’ll even tow the clunker away! Before making other stock or real property contributions, you’ll probably want to speak with an organization’s director of development or giving. They handle these gifts on a regular basis, so they can help guide you through the process.
For folks who plan to donate substantial amounts, a family foundation or trust might be a good choice. These can be expensive to set up and maintain and they come with specific legal and tax requirements. You’d likely want to be donating significant amounts before a plan like this would become cost effective, but if you’re in that category, you’ll want to consult with lawyers and financial planners who specialize in these vehicles.
If you have a will (and you do have a will, right? If not, today is a great time to get one! Lawyers offer phone consultations.), you may want to make bequests to charitable organizations. You can also name charities as beneficiaries on your accounts. They will then get whatever remains in that account upon your death. (Many accounts allow you to give specific percentages too each beneficiary.) Doing so can make the transfer go more smoothly.
Finally, if you are looking to give more (and more intentionally), but not enough that a trust private foundation makes sense, you can look into a donor-advised fund. Many of the same companies that offer mutual funds for investments offer these funds as well. The operation is pretty simple. You make a deposit into the donor-advised fund (most funds seem to have a minimum initial deposit of $5000). If you itemize deductions, you can take the deduction upon deposit. The deposit grows (or not!) as the markets vary. Any income goes into the fund to increase your giving power. Then, when you find a donation you want to make, the donation is made directly from the fund. You’ll want to research at least a few options. Funds differ in the required deposits and balances, maintenance costs, investment performance, the number of contributions you can make in a given time period, and, in some cases, even the organizations to which you can donate. I’ve actually begin researching such funds with a goal of creating my account before the end of the year.
Whatever method you decide to use, give with gratitude and generosity.