Top 4 Charitable Giving Strategies

If your charitable giving is limited to cash donations to organizations and causes you love, you may want to take a more strategic approach. Who wouldn’t want to pay less in taxes while at the same time making your charitable giving go further and do more than you ever dreamed!

The TOP 4 Charitable Giving Strategies

#1 Beneficiary Designations

Donors can designate a charitable organization as a beneficiary of their will, retirement plan, individual retirement account (IRA), life insurance policy, annuity, or any other asset that passes by contract, such as a payable on death account. The charity can be the primary beneficiary or one of several beneficiaries. Accounts with named beneficiaries are generally not subject to probate; however, designating a charitable beneficiary under a will is subject to probate. Distributions of retirement assets that would be subject to income tax, such as from a traditional IRA, are also exempt from income tax when passing to a charitable organization.

#2 Charitable Remainder Trust

If you want to make a future gift while retaining the right to income from the assets during your lifetime, you could consider a Charitable Remainder Trust. This is an irrevocable trust funded with either cash or property. You retain the right to an income stream that is either a fixed amount or a fixed percentage, such as with a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT) or Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT). Income is paid for a number of years or for the life of the income beneficiary. When the trust ends, the assets pass to the charitable entity. You may be entitled to a tax deduction when you transfer assets to the trust. Also, by donating highly appreciated property to the trust rather than selling it and donating cash, you avoid incurring capital gain tax on the sale of the property since the trust, not you, owns the property. Keep in mind that such a trust is irrevocable, so you cannot terminate it or change the terms (other than retaining a power to change charitable beneficiaries). Also, the assets in the trust will not be available for your heirs.

#3 Charitable Lead Trust

Like the CRAT or CRUT, the Charitable Lead Trust makes periodic payments for a term of years or for life, but the payments go to a charitable entity rather than to the donor or another individual. When the trust ends, the remaining assets return to you or pass to other noncharitable beneficiaries, such as your children. Depending on how the trust is structured, you may be entitled to an income tax charitable deduction when assets are transferred to the trust.

#4 Donor-Advised Fund

If you would like to make multiple gifts but are tired of the paperwork, consider creating a donor advised fund. This is a charitable fund managed by a community foundation or a charitable entity created by a bank or other organization.

Contributions to a Donor-Advised Fund are tax deductible; however, assets transferred to the fund do not need to be immediately distributed to a charity. You may retain the ability to make recommendations for distributions to charitable beneficiaries; helpful if you want to take a charitable deduction but are not yet sure which charities you want to support.

These charitable giving methods may allow you or your heirs to benefit from your assets while providing needed funds to charity during your lifetime. If any of these options interest you, contact us now info@stewardshipworks.org to see if which of these planned gift strategies can benefit your overall estate plan.

The Apple Falls Not Far From the Morality Tree

Almost a year ago, Gallup conducted a survey on the moral value of Americans. More than three in four Americans reported morals in the U.S. as getting worse. Surprisingly, there was little difference in the opinions of Democrats and Republicans — both were equally negative.

Moral values having anything to do with politics is alarming. Moral values are knowing the difference between right and wrong and having a willingness to do the right thing, even if it is hard or dangerous.  Americans entered WWII because they believed that it was  ethically the right thing to do, even though it was dangerous for the individuals who served and for the country as a whole. Americans valued democracy and freedom and were willing to fight for it.

The Ten Commandments define for believers what is right or wrong. Values are defined as those things that are important to an individual or group. Core values may include integrity, professionalism, caring, teamwork, and stewardship when applied to an organization’s vision. The aforementioned core values are part and parcel of the Stewardship Foundation, and form the basis for our ethics.

When we perform ethically, we behave in a manner that is consistent with what we believe to be right or moral. We specifically apply these ethics to our own core belief that financial riches are to be shared, and that faithfulness to God commands that we be good stewards of the riches that we share.

Our Credo is on our website, but those who visit our blog more frequently than our website, they bear repeating:

  • We believe in transformational giving.
  • We believe that giving is a collaborative act between the donor, the charity, and their God
  • We believe that transformational giving is not about the bottom line, but about the heart.
  • We believe that transformational giving creates partnerships that impact entire communities.
  • We believe in the sanctity of human life, marriage and sexual morality, and religious freedom and the rights of conscience.
  • We believe that it is our responsibility to care for the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged, and to use our talents for the betterment of mankind through education, opportunity and freedom.

We also believe that those who seek to invest their money through an organization like ours do so because of shared moral values, and whether our clients are Democrats or Republicans, both do so because of equally positive motives. We have choices where and how we invest. What’s more important—social and moral responsibility, or profitability? We believe that both are equally important and that’s why we work hard everyday to manage funds that do both.

Giving To Be Fully Alive

Howard Thurman (1899-1981) was an African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader known for his famous quote, “Follow the grain in your own wood.” When just a boy, Howard’s parents dropped him off at the Florida East Coast Depot in Daytona, Florida, so he could attend high school in a less segregated school in Jacksonville. They paid for his ticket, but forgot to pay for his luggage. He sat in the depot in tears when a stranger approached, listened to his story, and paid his luggage bill for him. In his autobiography, Howard Thurman dedicated his book to the stranger who “restored my broken dream.”

Thurman’s contribution to civil rights was never as loud as Martin Luther King, Jr. Instead, he developed a philosophy of social change by changing one’s individual, internal spirit. His story illustrates the goodness of giving. 

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Giving to charity makes us feel alive. Even though a gift to a qualified charity may entitle us to a deduction against income taxes, taking the deduction is smart investing. Tax laws provide the opportunity to make the world a better place. When we think of others, we forget about ourselves. When we give to others, we come more fully alive.