“I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious task of wise distribution.” Andrew Carnegie
So. How does the average person “pay it forward” wisely?
Planned giving is one option. It’s about making a plan to give in the future, often at the time of your death. With careful thought and some good advice from your financial advisor, your plan can take shape.
Who, what, why, when, and where? You’ll need to consider all of these questions
- Who do you want to give to?
- What do you want them to receive?
- Why are they to have it, for what purpose?
- When do you want the organization to receive—now or later, in increments, as an endowment, or as a lump sum gift?
- Where will you put instructions to assure your plan is implemented?
Let’s talk first about who will receive. You may have just one favorite organization. If so, the decision’s easy. The causes you favor may change as you do. Sometimes, your area of interest makes answering the “Who?” question easy. You may also want to benefit several organizations.
If your gift will be substantial (however you define that), it’s a good idea to establish a relationship with the organization you’re considering. See how they handle donations. Look at the work they’re doing. Volunteer. You may want to look at the IRS Form 990, which is often available on their website. Know that overhead and salaries vary a great deal among nonprofits. Guidelines about budget percentages that should be devoted to overhead or salaries are not absolutes. A nonprofit that provides services to individuals may devote a large share of its budget to overhead and salaries. One that distributes donated goods may have lower overhead margins. The question is, do YOU think they’re good stewards?
Community Foundations provide flexibility if you’ve identified a cause, but not a recipient. Their field of interest funds are used to do good in a particular area of need. Donor advised funds can receive your lifetime donations before you’ve figured out exactly how the gifts should be used. The Alaska Community Foundation focuses on our state. Other community foundations are located across the nation.
Next time, we’ll talk about the “what” and “why” questions.
Susan Behlke Foley
Foley, Foley & Pearson, P.C.