In a nation where philanthropy forms an integral part of its fabric, it’s no surprise that 56% of Americans made charitable donations in 2021. Leading the generosity pack were Baby Boomers, with 60% of them opening their hearts and wallets to causes they hold dear. But while the spirit of giving thrives, how can you make the most of your donations, both in impact and personal finance? Here’s a guide to thoughtfully integrating charitable giving into your financial landscape.
Charitable Giving in America
Charitable giving has always been a pivotal part of American culture. Whether it’s donating to local food banks, international NGOs, or supporting arts and culture, Americans have consistently shown their commitment to fostering positive change. However, as noble as the act of giving is, there are practical considerations to keep in mind.
Insights from the Nonprofit Sector
The nonprofit sector’s immense scale, operating as the third-largest U.S. employer, illustrates the profound reach and impact of philanthropy. Recent statistics from 2023 reveal that the commitment to charitable causes remains strong:
- Charitable giving has been on a steady rise, with 2019 witnessing a peak with $449.64 billion in donations.
- Following the pandemic, average donation amounts have been climbing: a 10% jump to $813 in 2021 from $737 in 2020.
- Geographically, Utah tops the list for charitable generosity, followed by states like Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina.
- Monthly donors, who on average give 42% more than one-time contributors, spotlight the power of sustained giving.
Integrating Charity into Your Budget
There are numerous ways to integrate charitable giving without straining your purse strings:
- Volunteer Your Time: Sometimes, the most valuable donation can be your time and expertise.
- Non-Cash Donations: Got an old car or clothes in good condition? Many charities accept non-cash items which they can use or sell to raise funds.
- Appreciated Securities: Donating securities, especially those that have appreciated in value, can be a win-win, offering you tax benefits while providing the charity with a substantial sum.
However, it’s crucial to research before you donate. Ensure your chosen charity directs at least 65% of its donor revenue to actual services, ensuring your donation has the desired impact.
Crafting a Charitable Giving Plan
Like any financial endeavor, planning can enhance the effectiveness of your charitable actions:
- Outline Your Donations: Whether you’re planning for a year or more, documenting the amount, frequency, and beneficiaries can provide clarity and purpose to your giving.
- Do the Math: Before you donate, take stock of your finances. Understand your expenses, savings, and how much you can comfortably give.
- Regular vs. One-Time Donations: Monthly donations can provide charities with a steady income, but a one-time lump sum can also have a significant impact, especially for smaller organizations or during crises.
- Vet Your Chosen Charity: Beyond financial efficiency, ensure the charity’s values align with yours and that they genuinely require the funds.
- Revisit Your Strategy: Charities evolve, and so do your finances. Regularly review your giving plan to ensure it remains aligned with your current situation and beliefs.
Tax Benefits and Charitable Giving
Since 1917, tax benefits have incentivized charitable giving. While most donors are driven by the desire to create positive change, it’s prudent to understand the tax implications.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 shifted the landscape, increasing the standard deduction and reducing itemized deductions. This change could affect the federal tax benefits from your donations.
However, the tax perks of charitable giving can vary based on numerous factors like the asset type donated, its value, the charity type, and your personal financial situation.
For those looking to maximize tax advantages:
- Planned Gifts: Consider donating appreciated securities or making qualified charitable distributions from IRAs. Such strategies can offer considerable tax benefits.
- Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs): DAFs provide a flexible approach to charitable giving. They allow you to make contributions now, get immediate tax benefits, and recommend grants to charities over time.
- Stay Updated on Legislative Changes: With the ever-evolving legislative landscape, stay informed about any new proposals or bills that might impact charitable donation deductions.
- Consult Professionals: To navigate the intricacies of philanthropy and finance, seek advice from financial advisors and tax professionals. They can guide you in crafting a strategy that maximizes benefits for you, your family, and your chosen charities.
Taking Action: Maximizing the Impact of Charitable Giving
Understanding the importance of informed giving is only half the journey; putting this knowledge into action is where the real change begins. By integrating charitable donations into your budget, crafting a giving plan, and maximizing tax benefits, you can optimize the impact of your contributions. These actionable strategies not only enhance the reach of your generosity but also ensure it aligns with your financial goals.
As you reflect on your philanthropic desires, remember the power of strategy and informed choices. By aligning your heartfelt intentions with clear plans and regular reviews, you can ensure that your generosity not only benefits your chosen causes but also brings valuable returns to your personal finances.
For more information on how to successfully balance philanthropy and tax benefits into your budget, read chapter 6 of “Wealth on Purpose”. If you have questions, give us a call.
Have a great weekend!
Source: Located at the bottom of the articles
Golf Tip of the Week
3 Different Ways To Tee Up The Golf Ball: Which One Is Best For You?
Tee height is a simple thing, but it can have a big effect on how far you hit your driver.
Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher in America Trillium Rose says that tee height doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution.
“Generally, everyone says tee it up high. I agree with that, except if you have a tendency to hit down on the ball,” Rose says. “If you’re someone who pops it up with your driver, that probably means you’ve hit down too much. And you’re teeing it up high, because so much literature tells you to.”
The proper tee height for you depends on your swing. She recommends testing low, mid, and high tee heights to figure out which gives you maximum distance.
Low Tee Height
Definition: The high point of the ball is lower than the crown of the driver.
For golfers who hit down on the driver, Rose says a low tee height can be a good option. Though she does note, hitting down on the driver is not a good thing. To get the most out of your driver, you want to hit up on it.
“If the ball is teed up high, and you hit down, the ball will pop up, go nowhere and probably scratch the top of your driver. Terrible. Tee the ball lower and work on your angle of attack,” Rose says.
Mid Tee Height
Definition: A small portion of the ball is above the crown of the driver.
If you hit up on the ball, this can be a good tee height for you. If you hit down on it, mid-height might also work for you.
“Not everybody has a positive angle of attack. Some people want a positive angle of attack, but they just don’t. If you’re a little over the top and you’re drifting towards the target with your upper body, you’re probably going to hit down on the ball with your driver. And in that case, you don’t want to tee it up too high,” Rose said.
At the same time, you don’t want to tee it up super low, in case you do hit up on it. It’s a balance, and it depends on how severely or often you hit down on the ball.
High Tee Height
Definition: The equator of the ball meets the top of the driver.
Similar to mid-tee height, golfers who hit up on the ball should consider a high tee height. Hitting up on a ball that’s teed high is most often the combination that leads to maximum driver distance.
The only way to know which is best for you is to try each out, and see how your yardages change.
Tip adapted from golfdigest.comi
Recipe of the Week
The Best Sweet Potato Casserole
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the baking dish
- 3 to 4 large sweet potatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- For the sweet potatoes: Add 1 3/4 pounds peeled and cubed sweet potatoes to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Mash the sweet potatoes.
- For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
- Whisk together the butter, mashed sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and eggs in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
- For the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium bowl until moist and the mixture clumps together. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes in an even layer. Bake until mostly set in the center and golden on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.
Recipe adapted from Foodnetwork.comii
Health Tip of the Week
Stuff The Turkey, Not Yourself!
Stuffing ourselves with food we don’t normally eat, drinking fancy beverages instead of our normal water, keeping so busy we can’t keep on our exercise schedules — this describes what many of us fondly refer to as “the holiday season.”
But you CAN enjoy the holidays and all that it offers and still stay on track with your weight-loss plan by keeping three things in mind:
1. Now more than ever, keep up with your exercise plan.
Exercise will keep your metabolic rate up, thus burning more calories each day. It will also reduce stress and help keep you feeling positive about your body. It’s important to feel positive — many of us tend to overeat when we are stressed, depressed, or feel bad about ourselves.
2. Strive for balance.
It’s important to strike a balance between allowing yourself some of foods you want to taste and enjoy and those that will keep the weight off. One key is to keep portions sizes modest. Also, don’t forget to eat ONLY when you are hungry and stop when you are comfortable — especially during the holiday season.
Some people cut out needless “extras” by simply not eating or drinking after around 7 p.m. Faced with a late holiday party? Substitute sparkling water for wine and munch on crunchy raw foods, such as sliced veggies. Your mouth will be busy and you won’t feel deprived.
3. Lighten up your holiday favorites everywhere you can.
Believe me, lightening those recipes can add up to big savings! If you cut 110 calories here, 130 calories there, and 90 calories in a third dish, you’ve trimmed off 330 calories from that one meal alone. You can lighten recipes by using less fat or oil than called for in the original recipe, and by substituting reduced-fat or reduced-calorie versions of some of the ingredients (such as using light cream cheese instead of regular cream cheese or fat-free half and half instead of regular half and half.)
Tip adapted from WebMD.comiii
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