Tips for Maximizing Your Year-End Giving

Author John Canady, Chief Executive Officer

December 8, 2017

From the days of Dickens to today’s TV adverts and social media, we are bombarded with messages of charity around the holidays – welcome reminders that the spirit of the season is not just consumerism, but giving. Many of us naturally feel more inclined to give during the holiday season, as well as more grateful for our own relative prosperity, so we want to support good causes. How can you make your money work best for the causes you care about – in the New Year and beyond?

Listen to your heart… 
Most of us have a cause we are drawn to, so it makes sense to focus your giving in an area you care about. You’re more likely to keep up any charitable strategy that supports causes you are passionate about helping.

…and your head.
It’s a depressing fact that charitable scams are becoming more common and sophisticated, so it’s important to research the causes you give to so that your money is going where you want it to. You can simplify this by using a charitable giving vehicle such as a donor-advised fund (DAF) – the fund sponsor will carry out all due diligence on any charities which are to be recipients of grants from the fund, meaning you don’t have to.

Make your money go further…
Just as most of us take advantage of the holiday sales to get the most for every pound we spend, it makes sense to think about how to make your donation do as much good as possible. DAFs are again an attractive option here, since assets in them can be invested for future growth – meaning there will be more money to donate at a later date.

…and consider assets other than cash.
Another advantage of DAFs is that you can donate assets other than money (such as appreciated stock, property, or more complex assets like alternative investments or crypto currencies). Some charities will be able to accept these directly, but many aren’t set up to do so – in which case a DAF is the ideal solution.

Take your time to make a plan.
This time of year can be hectic, with most people having plenty on their plate.  Now is not always the best time to decide where to focus their charitable giving. If you want to seize the momentum but don’t want to worry about the details until after the holidays, again the solution could be setting up a DAF. It’s easy and fast to do, and you can donate assets now but hold off deciding which charities you want to support until you have more time to evaluate how you want to direct your giving.

Once you’ve made a plan – stick to it!
Giving spirits are high when everything feels festive, but it is all too tempting to let that commitment slide when January rolls around. Consider setting up a donation of a regular amount now, whether to your favourite charity or to a donation vehicle, so that your giving is year-round.