A Guide to Charitable Giving This Season
On being thoughtful and strategic with your philanthropic dollars
This is the time of year when many of us find ourselves on the receiving end of numerous requests for charitable gifts.
Giving Tuesday – the biggest day in nonprofit fundraising – takes place on the Tuesday after Black Friday, which is November 30th this year. The state’s largest single day of giving is Colorado Gives Day, slated for Tuesday, December 7th.
Sorting through the various solicitations associated with these campaigns can be daunting, particularly since Colorado has so many well-regarded nonprofits doing important work.
I am a huge proponent of giving back to the community, but I also believe in being thoughtful and strategic with my philanthropic dollars.
Creating a plan to guide your charitable giving will make the process easier and allow you to narrow down the requests more effectively.
Here are some things to keep in mind when developing your plan:
Where to Give
I like to give to organizations where I have a personal connection. For example, I am more likely to support an organization whose board I have served on or a charity that has directly helped my family.
Children’s Hospital Colorado saved my son’s life from a near fatal brain aneurism when he was seven years old, and I of course, have been forever grateful.
For me, an annual gift to the hospital’s foundation is now automatic. You can also ask friends and family for recommendations.
Many people prioritize giving to organizations that help people most in need after a particularly awful natural disaster or devastating events such as the COVID-19 crisis.
How to Give
- Money is certainly the simplest way to give but appreciated stock works as well. You can also set up a donor-advised fund at a community foundation or a national brokerage firm. This is an easy way to give because the funds are kept in a separate account earmarked for the specific purpose of giving to charities annually. Donating your car or real estate can also be a wonderful way to give a large gift.
- In some instances, donating your time is more valuable than writing a check. If you are particularly skilled in your profession then your expertise and reputation can be worth its weight in gold. Helping with the legal or financial aspects of a charity can be invaluable since those are areas where nonprofits may lack expert guidance or funding for expensive business-related services. One way I have given back to the community is by serving on the investment committees of eleemosynary organizations, using my investment expertise to help manage their endowments.
- Helping a nonprofit expand its network is also a great way to make an impact. Maybe your best friend has been incredibly successful and is looking to serve on a board. Introducing the organization to bright, visionary people is always beneficial. These contacts may become board members or donors. Giving away money is an incredibly personal thing, so the better a person knows the charity the more likely they will give or quite possibly leave the organization money in their estate.
How to Track It
Create a spreadsheet or some other system to log your contributions. This will help you tally up your donations and will also give you a better sense of where your dollars are going. Request hard copy receipts for your gifts and keep them in a file to refer back to at tax time. Check with your tax professionals about deductions since these rules seem to change often.
The nonprofits I have supported throughout the years have made a significant impact in the community and I feel immense pride in helping them advance their missions.
Having said that, everyone’s philanthropic journey is different. Do your homework, figure out which charities mean the most to you and why. There are a variety of ways to give and finding the best method sometimes takes time.
And, remember being generous to others less fortunate can leave you surprised at how wonderful it makes you feel.
Fred Taylor is a managing director and partner of Beacon Pointe Advisors’ Denver office. He helps individuals and families build wealth, live off their wealth and leave a legacy for future generations. A former economic advisor to Governor Bill Ritter, Fred has more than 35 years of financial services experience.