Tips to Develop a Meaningful Charitable Giving Strategy

By Mike Vredenburgh  

In this blog series, I am going to focus on charitable giving. Specifically, how to discover meaningful philanthropy and then financial strategies to carry out charitable giving. 

The first part of philanthropy is developing a meaningful charitable giving strategy that helps one have more impact on people who receive their support. Instead of making several small donations to a multitude of organizations, review donations made over the last couple years and organize them into broad categories, i.e. religion, education, health care, political, etc. Consider joining local giving circles that focus on these categories. If a pattern emerges, developing a vision statement could help narrow the focus and align aspirations.  An example of a statement could be, “Our vision for a better world is…” 

For those that are uncertain which organizations to support, there are several resources to start the search. Websites Charity Navigator, Great Nonprofits, Charity Watch help narrow the scope of charities that meet a range of criteria, as well as provide crowdsourced reviews and evaluations vetting the legitimacy of an organization. 

Finally, the question asked by many of our clients, “what percentage of my assets should I be giving away each year?” In short, probably not surprisingly, there is no hard and fast rule. Some families choose to “tithe” up to 10% of their annual income, usually to a religious-based organization. Other studies show a range of 1.5% – 5% of annual income as a more accurate number. Ultimately, the correct annual giving percentage is whatever works for one’s short and long-term charitable goals. 

Once the organizations have been selected and the dollar amounts designated for charitable giving agreed to, Moneta works with our clients to complete charitable gifts using tax-efficient strategies, such as Donor Advised Funds, Qualified Charitable Distributions, or outright gifts of low-basis equity positions. I will dive more into these strategies in Part Two. 


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