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To Your Wealth: Explore your options for charitable giving

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One unofficial opening to the holiday season is the return of red kettles and bell ringers reminding us that it’s the season for giving as well as receiving. When it comes to your charitable giving, there are many options. All those options benefit your heart, and some may even benefit your taxes.

It appears that charitable giving is increasing due to a variety of contributing factors. According to an early summer study by Giving USA, charitable giving in the U.S. in 2020 totaled $471 billion, a 3.8% increase over 2019 giving. Local organizations were the primary beneficiaries of increases with homeless shelters and food pantries seeing 147% increase in donations over 2019.

While emergency situations certainly prompt an uptick in giving, many people opt to have a more structured plan for their charitable giving and legacy gifting. In fact, this strategy is often a cornerstone of your financial life plan and/or estate plan. Including a plan for a legacy is often indicated among the top reasons people give for setting up an estate plan.

Here are a few charitable giving strategies to discuss with your financial planner or your estate planning attorney before acting on your intentions. For more information on these approaches, download our Charitable Giving Guide at

  • Partnering with a local community foundation to send donations to specific charities allows even those without considerable wealth to make a difference to organizations or causes they value. Contact your local community foundation to request a copy of their current grant requests, field of interest and named funds.
  • For those who want to make a future gift but retain lifetime income for themselves, charitable remainder trusts (CRT) and charitable gift annuities are options. These giving vehicles can be funded with cash or appreciated assets to a charitable organization in a tax-efficient manner.
  • Donor advised funds may be a choice for those who want a tax deduction now but plan to make the gifts to charities in the future. This may be to maximize itemized deductions in one year. Donor advised funds are offered by investment firms and community foundations. Be sure to understand costs and any limitations before opening one of these funds.
  • For those over 70½ years old, Qualified Charitable Donations (QCDs) are paid directly to a qualified charity from a taxable IRA. However, QCDs cannot be used for donor advised fund contributions.
  • As a provision of the 2019 CARES Act, individuals who do not itemize their deductions on Federal tax returns can deduct up to $300 ($600 for married couples) for donations made in 2021.

Including a charitable giving element in an overall financial or estate plan may allow you to benefit from some tax advantages and derive the joy that comes from giving to others.

Michael Haubrich is a fee-only financial planner and Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) with Financial Service Group Inc., a registered investment advisory firm at 4812 Northwestern Ave., online at


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