Is all giving created equal?

When you consider the charitable causes you support, are they the same ones your parents give to? Or your neighbors? Or your school classmate? Of course not.

Your decisions around the causes and organizations you support are personal and uniquely yours. And for good reason! Your personal experiences and passions have been developed through your own life journey. The whole point of philanthropy is that you get to make the decisions about where you want to make a difference in the world. You even get to determine how it will be done in your household; some families make decisions together, and in other cases each person in a family make their own determination.

However you do it, all the choices around your philanthropic plan are yours: Which organizations mean the most to you, when you make your gifts, and how you make them.

Did you know that there are options for how you make your gifts that can provide specific advantages to you?  Many of the donations you make today may come from your checking account, which is a great way to show your support, but there are often less expensive ways to make your gifts than cash!

To be clear, gifts of cash are wonderful, and they give organizations the lifeblood they need to keep running.  But if an advisor showed you a way to structure that gift so that you could save money when tax time comes around, or pointed out a giving option that would not compete with your household’s monthly cash flow, would you want to know more?

These options do exist and are available to most people, depending on the situation. Here are three examples:

  • Gifts of stock: If you have investments (stock, mutual funds) that you’ve had for a long period of time, chances are the value has increased significantly.  Many of our supporters have found that donating this stock as a charitable gift can be a great way to avoid the tax bill that comes with selling the investment.  And, since you paid far less for it than it is currently worth, your donation comes at a substantial savings to you.
  • IRA distribution: If you’ve reached a point where you are required to take annual distributions from your IRA (age 70 ½ or older), you may have an option to switch some of your charitable giving to be made directly from that IRA rather than your checking account.  Doing so avoids the income tax you would pay by taking the full distribution yourself.  It’s a simple matter of contacting your IRA administrator, and we have a sample letter you can use. Learn more, here.
  • Beneficiary designation: Many people have banking, investment, retirement, and other types of accounts that permit a beneficiary designation.  This would allow any funds remaining in that account after your death to pass directly to one or more people or organizations without having to be processed by your estate.  This can make an easy way to ensure that remaining assets are handled the way you want without having to update your will.  Though the gift is in the future, it’s a wonderful way to provide your support to causes you love down the road.

There are many other tools like these that may be available to you, and a philanthropic advisor could be as valuable in figuring it all out as your tax accountant, financial advisor, and lawyer are in helping you with other areas of your planning.

The Children’s Foundation wants you to know that we have philanthropic advisors available to help you!

Our job is to help you understand the tools that will best help you meet your needs when you are supporting charitable causes you care about.  These tools can help you with all your charitable giving and are not just applicable to one organization, but they are uniquely suitable for your situation.

We invite you to reach out to us if you have questions about the examples above or want to know about other options available to you.  Whether you are considering your long-term estate plan or your annual charitable support, we enjoy sharing information that can help you make the most of your gifts. You can reach out to The Children’s Foundation to have a conversation about your needs.  We would be happy to help you!

For philanthropic advising, please contact:

George Westerman: (248) 310-5854 or

The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results.

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