Maximize the Impact of Your End-of-Year Gifts

As we enter the season of giving, charitable giving often comes to mind. Many of us are compelled to make a financial contribution to an organization or cause – both for the good it can do in the world and for the potential tax benefits it can provide.  But how can you be sure your donation will make the impact you desire?

We’ve compiled our list of tried-and-true tactics to maximize your donations from Bartlett’s expert team.

Don’t delay.

Nearly 1/3 of charitable giving occurs in December… but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until the end of the year to get your donations in. Giving early helps ensure you complete your intended gifts before the end of the year and helps it alleviate some of your chosen charity’s year-end rush.  

Make a plan.

The closer we get to the end of the year, the more charitable requests flood in. Develop a plan for how much you intend to give and how you’ll allocate your donations. We suggest budgeting your charitable giving via the 50/30/20 rule:

  • 50% of your giving to organizations that support causes you are most passionate about
  • 30% to organizations where you have a loyalty or obligation
  • 20% to unplanned requests

This will help ensure your generosity makes a thoughtful impact, and your giving stays on track.    

Give strategically.

You can make a donation by simply writing a check, but there are many other ways to give that can benefit both you and your recipient. Some options we often recommend include:

  • Review your stocks.
    Selling stock with a low-cost basis will incur capital gains tax on the appreciation, but gifting stocks to a charitable organization means you could avoid paying tax and receive a deduction for the stock’s current market value, just like a cash gift.
  • Consider a donor-advised fund.
    Like a personal, charitable savings account, a donor-advised fund allows you to make a charitable contribution for an immediate tax deduction but disburse the money over time.
  • Use your IRA.
    IRA owners age 70 1/2 or older may donate all or a portion of their IRA (up to $100,000 annually) and avoid the income taxes that would ordinarily incur with normal distribution.
  • Make a match.
    Make your contribution go further by utilizing your company’s matching contribution program if there is one available.

Be thoughtful.

Giving is itself an act of kindness, but your charitable gifts take on even more significance when you’re intentional about the particulars. Careful, connected contributions are a great way to put your personal values into action and live in a way that upholds your beliefs. Here are a few ways to feel more connected to your gift…  

  • Engage your family in thoughtful philanthropy as a hands-on way to share family values and build a lasting legacy. Host annual family meetings to discuss your charitable values and get them involved in the giving process.
  • Donate to a meaningful charity in someone’s honor in lieu of a holiday gift.
  • Ask around! People are usually passionate about the organizations they support and can share stories that might help you align with a particular cause or organization.
  • Take a moment to vet charities of your choice. Browse top charities on websites like Charity Navigator, GiveWell, or Guidestar.
  • Get involved! One way to really learn about a charity is by volunteering and getting your hands dirty, so to speak.

Enlist help.      

Navigating the nuances of charitable giving can be a challenge. It’s important to regularly discuss tax code changes and review giving with your financial advisor to ensure your gifts achieve their maximum impact. Let Bartlett handle the details. We’re always here to help craft the best giving strategies for your unique financial situation.

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