Charitable Contributions: When and how to give

In the course of a year, most of us donate a certain percentage of our income to charitable organizations. The only real questions are “when?” and “how?” to give. Like most things financial, you can increase the impact of your charitable donations if you have a plan in place.

Include charitable giving in your budget. Rather than giving when the mood strikes, make a commitment to giving in your monthly budget. After setting aside savings for your future, allocate an amount you can afford to give. Putting your giving goals on paper can help you be more intentional about your giving and allows you to increase or decrease your cash donations based on your financial circumstances.

Zoom in on nonprofits whose missions match your values. From saving the whales to providing mosquito netting in malaria-prone areas to funding a food shelf — there are countless worthwhile causes you could support. Focus first on one or two whose work is near and dear to your heart. Learn more about each charity to make sure you agree with the organization’s goals and activities.

Evaluate the financial health of your favorite charity. Not all nonprofit organizations are disciplined in their business practices. Take time to learn how your charity of choice is organized and run. How will your money be spent? Check to see that the organizations you support are doing their best to keep operational costs to a minimum so that the majority of the money they raise goes toward making a difference versus soliciting donations or paying the rent.

Stretch your giving. Giving that has an element of sacrifice tends to be more meaningful for the giver. Set a goal to increase your giving if you’re not where you’d like to be yet. Consider reducing spending in another area of your budget to increase your giving.

Give in more ways than one. It feels good to give — and even better when the giving is hands-on and personal. Get involved with the charities that matter to you. In addition to writing a check, consider giving your time and talents. You might also be able to donate stock or other items of value.

Get advice. Talk to your financial advisor about how your charitable giving fits into your overall financial plan. Your tax professional can also provide insight into tax advantages and other tax considerations related to charitable giving.

by Brad Berg, CFP, CRPC


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