One of the best things in life is giving. Just as you plan for prosperity "on purpose", plan for prosperity "with purpose". You may be inundated right now with end-of-year requests for giving. Here are five things to know as you think about year-end philanthropy.
- What’s your goal for this holiday season? What statement do you want to make — if even to yourself — about your giving? What’s tugging at your heartstrings? Make this decision first ... before you waddle through the many solicitations you’ve received from various organizations, non-profits, and, of course, friends and family.
- Who or what should benefit? Do you want to make a contribution to a sustainable food solution overseas? Is education important to you? Has someone in the medical field helped you or your family? Are advocacy and social justice important to you? My suggestion is to be thoughtful. Think about what’s important to you now or in the near future.
- Determine your options. Your gift is important. You’re a fish in the donation world — big or small. However, you should determine if you want a pond or an ocean. For some people, recognition matters — some people want their giving to be known; others, not so much. The take-away: think of the impact you want to have. Remember, a contribution to the general holiday collection at your religious institution is just as important as giving to the campaign to build the new extension to the main building. The question is where do you feel most comfortable giving.
- What should I give? This may seem like an odd question, because people so frequently give cash in some form. It’s easy: you write a check or use your credit card; transaction complete. However, there are other ways to give. Consider giving appreciated stock or other securities, such as mutual funds. Why? You don’t ever sell the security so you never have to pay taxes on the appreciated amount. A very smart way to go. Another option: volunteer. Do something. Make an immediate difference: Help in a kitchen; read a story; organize a holiday exercise event. These are easy, hands-on giving opportunities.
- Too overwhelmed? Can’t make a decision? Consider opening a Donor Advised Fund. For a minimum of $5000, these are your accounts, with your assets, that you have pledged to give away ... at some point. However, you don’t have to make the decision right away. Making a contribution to a Donor Advised Fund allows you to take an immediate tax deduction for the contribution, without immediately making a decision on who should be the recipient of your hard-earned funds. Your funds are invested in the market (i.e., in stock, bonds, or mutual funds). You can let the fund build and give away your earnings at a future date. It’s a great opportunity if you want to become a bigger fish.
Be smart. Be philanthropic. Share your prosperity.