Draw up strategy to optimize giving

08/20/2013 5:18 PM

08/20/2013 5:18 PM

Kansas City residents are passionate about philanthropy. According to the 2013 Metro Market Study by Charity Navigator, Kansas City recently ranked No. 3 on a list of the nation’s top philanthropic communities. The study, by an organization that gauges the effectiveness of charities, showed that the 49 largest charities in the city ranked higher than the national average in terms of assets, contributions, revenue and expenses.

With so many successful charities locally, there are many opportunities to contribute to causes and organizations that align with your philanthropic goals while being conscious of your financial contributions.

The decision to give involves many complex choices. It is essential that you take the time to fully understand your own values and objectives in regards to philanthropy. Donors and their families should consider working with a financial adviser who has the expertise to help guide a strategic giving approach in balancing your philanthropic and financial goals:

Balance philanthropic and financial goals:

Ideally your life goals and personal values should be integrated into your overall financial plan. To ensure that, you should discuss with your adviser what those goals and values are so that your adviser can be sure that your financial plan is set up appropriately.

Evaluate your giving options:

Find a cause or organization that aligns best with your personal values and interests. Many donors focus on giving back within their hometown. However, consider organizations in the Kansas City area as well as throughout the U.S and abroad.

Choose the best vehicle for giving:

According to the 2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, more people are using multiple giving vehicles — such as foundations, donor-advised funds and charitable trusts. These vehicles provide alternatives to donating directly to a charitable organization or cause, with each vehicle operating differently in terms of tax benefits, the degree of control over grant-making and regulatory requirements. Sit down with your adviser to determine which vehicle works best for you.

Donate your expertise:

Another growing trend in philanthropy is the donation of time or human capital, such as sharing your professional expertise or serving on a non-profit board. If you’re considering joining a non-profit board, be sure to do your homework before saying yes. You should inquire about the mission and programs, financial status, board structure, member qualifications and responsibilities, governance, administration and legacy.

Contribute within your estate plan:

According to a 2013 U.S. Trust Wealth and Worth survey, 72 percent of respondents do not have a comprehensive estate plan. But through an estate plan you can name the organization as the beneficiary of property — such as a bank account, life policy or retirement plan.

Philanthropy can serve as the basis for a family legacy — not only for doing good for others, but also for forging deep and lasting bonds across generations. By working with a dedicated philanthropic solutions team to identify specific goals, you can create a program to ensure that your charitable vision is achieved.

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