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Master the Art of Giving: 9 Strategies to Make a Difference

From direct cash donations to structured funds, these nine strategies can transform your charitable giving, making a profound impact to your financial plan.

In the realm of financial planning, two aspects often intersect: charity and estate planning. For many of our clients, optimizing their financial affairs to support charitable causes and efficiently manage their estates is a priority. This article explores the best giving strategies to ensure your charitable and estate planning goals are met.

As we discuss these giving strategies, remember that the information provided is based on well-established principles in the realm of charitable and estate planning. However, the effectiveness of these strategies can vary based on your unique financial situation and the specific tax laws in your jurisdiction.

1. Direct Cash Donations

Direct cash donations are a straightforward way to support the causes you care about. It involves giving money to a charity of your choice. For many clients, this is the most accessible method of charitable giving, and it can provide immediate support to organizations in need.

2. Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs)

DAFs offer flexibility and a structured approach to charitable giving. By contributing to a DAF, you create an account from which you can recommend grants to specific charities over time. This strategy not only streamlines your giving but also allows you to maximize your tax benefits.

3. Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs)

For clients aged 70½ or older with Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), QCDs present a tax-efficient way to support charities. QCDs enable you to make tax-free charitable donations directly from your IRA. This approach not only fulfills your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) but also reduces taxable income.

Starting this year (2023), people who are 70 1/2 or older may elect as part of their QCD limit, a one-time gift of up to $50,000, adjusted annually for inflation, to one of the following: Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT), Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT) or a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA).

Beginning in 2024, the annual QCD limit will be indexed for inflation.

To learn more about QCDs, click here.

4. Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs)

CRTs combine philanthropy with income management. Establishing a CRT allows you to receive income for a specific period while the remaining assets go to charity. This strategy is ideal for clients seeking to balance their giving with ongoing financial needs.

5. Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs)

CLTs serve clients looking to reduce estate taxes while supporting charitable causes. With CLTs, income is provided to charities for a set period, after which the assets pass to heirs. This approach harmonizes wealth transfer and charitable giving, promoting a holistic financial plan.

6. Endowment Funds

Creating an endowment fund is a strategic long-term approach for those who want to leave a lasting legacy. These funds support specific charitable causes and ensure that only investment income is typically spent.

7. Corporate Matching Gifts

For clients who work for companies with matching gift programs, this strategy can significantly amplify their contributions. Corporate matching effectively doubles the impact of individual donations, emphasizing the importance of maximizing resources.

8. Estate Planning with Charitable Bequests

Including charitable bequests in estate plans is essential for clients looking to create a legacy. By specifying charitable gifts in wills or trusts, individuals can ensure their support for causes they cherish lives on, and it adds a philanthropic dimension to estate planning.

9. Volunteering Time

While not a financial contribution, volunteering one’s time to charitable organizations fosters a sense of purpose and community engagement, which are integral aspects of a well-rounded financial plan.

Incorporating these giving strategies into your financial plan, with the guidance of a dedicated advisor, aligns your charitable and estate planning with a holistic approach. For personalized guidance, consult a financial advisor or tax professional. They can provide tailored advice, ensuring these strategies match your financial goals for effective charitable giving and estate planning.

About Strategic

Founded in 1979, Strategic is a leading investment and wealth management firm managing and advising on client assets of over $2 billion.