Lots of checks get written on December 31, when people accustomed to supporting charitable organizations make their annual donation. However, giving can be part of an effective tax and estate plan throughout the year.
Did you know that summer is actually the hardest time of the year for families in need? Children who depend on school-provided nutrition programs, often go hungry when school is out, or during long holiday breaks. That’s another reason why it’s good to make giving a year-round habit.
Forbes’ recent article, “5 Giving Tips For Smart Donations,” provides five key giving tips:
- Align Targeted Charities With Your Personal and Social Goals. Think about your key passions and see which institutions can best solve those problems. Then set out to research and understand all you can about those organizations.
- Are Your Selected Institutions Spending Wisely? A big tip-off is whether a charity is spending a significant amount of money on administrative and marketing expenses. Take a good look at the charity’s finances. Financially healthy organizations are ones that are both financially efficient and sustainable. They have greater flexibility and freedom to achieve their charitable mission. Make certain the charity is accountable and transparent.
- Is The Charity Effective? Find out whether the charity is making a difference. What evidence of this do they provide? Read their annual reports thoroughly and ask questions.
- Does The Charity Have Good Leadership? Solid charities will typically have formidable leaders—perhaps even more so than in the private sector. Look for a charity that has a dynamic, proven leader at the top. The organizations with high turnover typically struggle. This creates other problems. The inability to retain quality leadership is frequently a signal of instability and a lack of organization.
- Do Your Donations Work With Your Estate Plan? Remember that you have the flexibility to give some money now, but perhaps you’ll be able to give more later through your estate plan.
If this last question leads you to think, “But I don’t have an estate plan,” then your first step in charitable giving is to meet with an estate planning attorney in your state. During the process of creating the plan, your estate planning attorney will be able to explain how charitable giving might work for you and your family, from both a philanthropic and strategic tax perspective.
Reference: Forbes (December 7, 2018) “5 Giving Tips For Smart Donations”