Giving made easy

December 19, 2017

Giving should be easy. It should also be rewarding, fun, and do the maximum amount of good. But too often — especially when tax reform is in the news and year-end tax deadlines are looming — the diversity of giving vehicles and worthy charities can seem overwhelming.

Here are some ideas for how to make a plan, and get started:

Think about what matters to you. What are you passionate about? What are the needs in your community that you would most like to support? Do you love your local library? Have an elderly neighbor who relies on a senior meal? Do you want to contribute to multiple organizations? Or to contribute to one organization that responds to needs across the region? Thinking about those things first will help make decisions simpler, more rewarding, and more effective.

Get the family involved. Talking about charitable giving and making decisions together is a great way for families to share values and interests. Children who learn from their families will carry on that philanthropic tradition.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are considering giving at a significant level or a gift of appreciated securities, be sure to consult with your financial advisor to make sure you maximize your charitable giving and meet your individual or business financial goals.

Remember your IRA. If you are over 70-½ and must take an IRA distribution you don't need, consider making a tax-free gift to charity directly from your IRA.  (IRA distributions may be made to any fund at Adirondack Foundation except your own Donor Advised Fund.)

Also, be sure to consider which giving vehicle best matches your goals and interests:

Donor advised funds. This is one of the fastest-growing charitable giving vehicles in the U.S. Adirondack Foundation offers donor-advised funds (DAFs) that give donors the ability to be directly involved in grantmaking decisions. For business owners, DAFs can also be a great way to engage employees as advisors to a company’s charitable fund.

DAF donors may contribute to their funds at any time during a year and decide which organizations to support at leisure--there is no deadline for expending from a DAF. These funds are uncomplicated to establish and offer similar benefits to  private foundations without the startup costs or administrative burdens. Assets gifted to DAFs — and other types of charitable funds — can be invested and grow, tax-free, over time. And that means more money available to support the causes you care about.

Charitable remainder trusts. CRTs are established in the form of a trust, typically with the help of an attorney. CRTs provide an income stream to one or more recipients for a specified period of time with the remainder interest paid to a charity or charities selected by the donor.

Community foundations, such as Adirondack Foundation, also offer other options that align specifically with areas of donors’ interest, such as scholarships, funds to support a specific nonprofit organization, and funds dedicated to specific causes or communities.

One of the most effective and simple ways to give is through the Generous Acts Fund (GAF) at Adirondack Foundation. GAF is an unrestricted pool of gifts made by people who care about our communities — a flexible, ongoing resource for the Adirondack region.  Our Board of Trustees and staff, advised by an information network that spans the region, does the groundwork, research, and evaluation required to make high-impact grants.

Theodore Roosevelt said: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” It’s a good set of organizing principles. Consider what is most important to you. Talk with your family, and your financial advisor. Put your plan in place, and start — with what you have, where you are. With a charitable giving plan in action — no matter how small, or large — giving will be enjoyable, and effective, and appreciated.

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