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Charitable Giving

Family philanthropy provides an opportunity to explore financial issues in a context that reflects family values and teaches the responsible use of money. It transforms charitable giving from being passive to active. Philanthropic planning is very personal. It involves ethical and psychological issues. Family dynamics may complicate the process. However, note that your plans and your children's involvement can impact many generations to come.

Charitable giving provides family members with a sense of self-worth and a connection to their community. We often hear from our clients that they "want to give back" but not sure how and how much. Some clients want to give because it is a source of happiness. Others want to give because of gratitude they feel toward key people or organizations that helped them they were in need. Some even give to gain tax advantages.

As advisors we realize that helping people and/or organizations because they are in need is not always easy. Yet if we begin with ourselves, our family and then circle outward in our community over time we may find that we do have the ability to give and make a difference in the world around us.

Using a planning pyramid, we walk our clients through these three steps:

  • Are we okay? Review what you want versus what you have.
  • Is my family okay? Once you and your spouse are "OK," what does it mean to you that your family is going to be "OK?"
  • Is my community okay? Will you be able to give back to the community or charities as you desire?

In order to make decisions on giving time and/or money, it may be useful to perform a comprehensive inquiry into the events and insights that have led you and your spouse to where you financially are today. To help identify the values that are personally important to your family, it may be helpful to discuss the following questions:

  • What's important to this family?
  • What impact has our charitable works and contributions had on the family and the world at large?
  • What do each of us feel passionate about supporting?
  • How can we fulfill any social responsibilities we feel are important?

There is a lot of truth to the quote by Percy Ross, "He who gives while he lives also knows where it goes." Were you aware that Americans are among the most generous individuals in the world? How do you make sure your donations are being allocated appropriately? We recommend that donors complete their own due diligence.

In order to make appropriate decisions on the method of giving we help you look at tax advantage ways to give such as:

  • Donations of cash and non-cash property to a qualified organization may qualify for tax deductions
  • Donor advised funds
  • Foundations
  • Charitable Remainder Trust
  • Charitable gift of a life insurance policy or annuity contract

Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." For many families, philanthropy is an important part of their value system. In his book The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People, author David Niven commented that, "Life satisfaction was found to improve 24 percent with the level of altruistic activity." We could not agree more.