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  • Writer's pictureJeran Van Alfen, CFP®

The Season of Giving

It’s that beautiful time of year when we can take time to reflect on the abundance that we have received over the year and return that abundance to others through the spirit of giving. The reciprocal energy of giving and receiving has been talked about in almost every belief system and is a fundamental part of us all living together in a civilized society.

Charitable intentions are often personal and typically motivated by different life experiences. I have noticed that some people have certain ways in which they are methodical about giving, while others simply give when they can. Whether charitable giving is an important financial strategy, part of your religious or spiritual ideals, or that voice in the back of your mind that tells you there is more to do for humanity, creating a plan allows a more thoughtful, deliberate approach to your charitable giving. Here are some strategies to create a giving plan:

Write a Family Mission Statement for Giving.

  • Who needs to be included in family decisions for giving?

  • What cause(s) does your family wants to support?

  • What values would your family like to promote.

Write this all down in your mission statement. It may follow this format: “We will contribute to causes that benefit ________, so that our family can promote ________ in the areas of ___________________.

Define how and when you want to give.

Take into account your personal finances and what makes sense for you to give. Knowing what you are capable of and when it is right for you can help you feel fulfilled, remove feelings of obligation, and help you capture the true spirit of giving.

Do your research.

Study out the charities that you would like to be involved with. Study their websites and read their annual reports. As a donor, you have the right to ask questions and verify the legitimacy of the cause you are becoming involved in.

Capturing the spirit.

  • Giving doesn’t have to be monumental. A smile, an embrace, a helping hand when in need. Just a positive presence can sometimes be the best gift.

  • Receive gifts graciously. When people are over generous, be thankful. This energy will pay it forward and create more abundance in your life.

One financial strategy for planned giving: The Qualified Charitable Distribution.

This is a good strategy if you are over 59 ½. A qualified charitable distribution is when you distribute money from your IRA directly to a charity. Distributions from traditional IRAs are typically taxable as ordinary income. However, if you distribute the money to a qualified charity, the money is not taxable to you as income.

A qualified charitable distribution can be used to satisfy your RMD as well.

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