March 27, 2017
The U.S. is a very benevolent nation when it comes to charity. Many people, however, struggle with making decisions about charitable giving. We often have conversations with clients about philanthropy. Sometimes we’re asked about giving amounts in relation to a saving base or help with creating a family philanthropic statement. Sometimes this work involves researching worthy causes to support based on the client’s philanthropic goals. Supporting charitable causes can be an annual gift or a more permanent gift serving to build the charities long-term endowment.
One of the striking things about charitable behavior is that both rich and poor feel the need to give. I have often seen the homeless put money into a church offering plate. It is apparent that folks really want to give, and they want their gifts to have meaning and impact.
Charity is defined as the voluntary act of giving help to those in need. That means, of course, that charity covers both the gift of time and the gift of money. In our busy lives, where time is so precious, those that choose to allocate their time to a cause are making a considerable sacrifice. Some “donors” focus on spending their energy and effort to make charities work, but, for many, the contribution to a charitable organization’s success is the gifting of their financial resources.
Frequently we have discussions with clients who would like to give more, but they are looking for help to develop a framework for their giving. We are all aware of the household names that do wonderful work but what about smaller, more local groups. These groups might need help more urgently, and a donation might have greater impact. Once we move away from established national organizations there is often some question about the stability and effectiveness of a charity. Nobody wants to give money only to see it being wasted.
A well known billionaire, when asked how he made all his money, responded quickly and concisely: “When I needed experts I hired experts and I always hired the best I could find”. We have long counseled clients in helping them develop strategic giving plans to meet their philanthropic goals. Some of the plans are developed to enable the involvement of the entire family, and might entail the creation of a foundation. For others, it might just mean helping source causes that match a giver’s passion. In providing this support we tap into outside groups which specialize in the non-profit sector. These specialists can provide information that assists in the identification of charities that matter to the donors.
If you do not have a strategic plan for your giving, maybe this could be the year that you begin to develop one to complement your overall estate and financial plan.