Get more out of your charitable giving

Wilson-150-x-150Thomas K.R. Wilson, CFA, Managing Director, Wealth Advisory

Typically, when we think about giving to charity, we think of all the lives we enrich by our support. What we sometimes overlook is how great it feels to do good.

As Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton explain in their book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, “Giving and happiness are mutually reinforcing, creating a positive feedback loop.”

Covering a broad spectrum of research studies, Dunn and Norton demonstrate how those who enjoy the emotional benefits of giving feel good about themselves and tend to behave more generously in the future. They also explain that those who give to others feel wealthier than those who do not make donations, and when prosocial spending is done right, even small gifts can increase happiness.

The best way to make sure you get the most emotional benefit out of your charitable giving is simple: make your gifts about you.

YOUR choice

Reaching into your pocket when you feel backed into a corner does not strike the pleasure centers in the brain as much as when you open your wallet because you felt compelled out of a sense of purpose to do so.

Part of YOUR big picture

Next to saving for retirement and college, charitable giving is one of the top financial priorities for many American families. It has earned a seat at the financial and estate planning table along with other financial goals, yet many people overlook philanthropy when setting and prioritizing financial goals.

When you make charitable giving part of your larger financial and estate plan, you can be assured that your generosity does not negatively impact any of your other financial goals and that you gain all applicable tax benefits.

Speak to who YOU are as a person

The charitable contributions you make should reflect your most deeply held values and beliefs. Before you write your next check to charity, stop to clarify your beliefs and preferences. Do you want to end hunger, fight domestic abuse, spur economic development in your community, or eradicate cancer? Think about where you want to make an impact globally, nationally, or locally. Do you want to give to many or few? Make a list of the top three to five causes that speak to your soul. The smaller the list, the more focused your giving, and the better you will feel.

Parameters set by YOU

If you are like many other givers, you don’t know how much you’ve given to charity until tax time. By establishing a charitable budget each year, you can make better decisions about funding levels for individual causes and initiatives. With the changes brought about by the Tax Cuts and Job Act, you should speak to your accountant about having your charitable donations distributed via RMDs or see if bundling your donations are right for you.

Organizations YOU trust

Whenever you make a donation,  it is a good idea to verify that the charity is legitimate and is capable of making an impact and fulfilling its mission. You can find information about a not-for-profit’s tax-exempt status, mission, and finances at Charity Navigator, Wise Giving Alliance, or Guidestar.

Make the impact YOU want

If you don’t specify how you want your gift to be used, the not-for-profit organization will likely spend the money on their top funding priorities. In some, but not all instances, the organization’s top funding priorities align with your interests. You can, however, make a restricted gift. In doing so, you earmark your dollars to serve a specific purpose, spelled out clearly by you in a written letter of instruction.

For 30 years, Brinker Capital has served financial advisors and their clients by providing the highest quality investment manager due diligence, asset allocation, portfolio construction, and client communication services. Brinker Capital Wealth Advisory works with business owners, individual investors, and institutions with at least $2 million. To learn more about the services available through Brinker Capital Wealth Advisory, call us at 800.333.4573.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital. Brinker Capital does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. 

Brinker Capital, Inc., a registered investment advisor.