Life is a journey—and we are all on it. While it does vary for all of us, there are common threads that connect us all. We are all in this together and one of the greatest common threads is the inherent need to give—the desire to transcend—to give to others with complete selflessness.
Let’s assume you are reading this because you Googled “philanthropy, giving, nonprofit, passion, guidance…” any of those words could have led you to Aspire to Give, and that says it all. Let’s break it down.
As·pire /əˈspī(ə)r/ verb
direct one's hopes or ambitions toward achieving something.
expressing an outcome, result, or consequence.
freely transfer the possession of (something) to (someone); hand over to.
We want to help you help others. We aspire to help direct you toward the process that will lead to you realizing your dream of giving freely to others with the goal of making something better than it was.
As someone who worked in the field of financial planning and has hands-on experience with individuals going through life transitions such as retirement, I see a need for guidance in terms of understanding the complex world of philanthropy. I’m pleased to give you a preview of what I explore in detail in my upcoming book - to be released shortly - by introducing those seven essential questions now.
Let’s dip our feet in the water and reflect on the ways we can make our giving dreams a reality.
This is the heart of the matter. It’s our motivation—our reason—for wanting to give. For some this answer may just pop in their mind with ease and for others, it may take some time and quiet reflection. To understand your why, you may have to first ask yourself additional questions. What do I care about? What do I hope to accomplish? If I could do anything in the service of others, what would it be? Thinking about those things and feeling the moments that made those things special and important to you may lead you to your why give?
Who to Give to?
This is a question that is in direct correlation with your answer to why give? What is important with this question is to assure that your answers to the why and the who are intentionally aligned to be emotionally satisfying, meaningful, and mutually beneficial for all involved.
Where to Give?
Before deciding where to give, ask more questions. Do the leg work required to ensure the where you give brings about your desired result and maximum impact.
Do you want to give within your local community? Or, do you prefer to give regionally, nationally, or even overseas? If you give locally, is the nonprofit a local nonprofit or a community branch of a national nonprofit?
When to Give?
Oftentimes, the bequest at death is the by-default option for when to give. There are other options such as “giving while living,” which provides more control on directed giving and gives you the joy of seeing your generosity used during your lifetime. Another option for when to give may be anticipating the sale of real estate or a business. Sometimes, tax consequences may be a factor for considering the timing of your giving.
Again, take some time and personally reflect.
What to Give?
For some, the choice is simple. For others with higher incomes or net worth, what to give becomes more challenging. Cash, securities, real estate, closely held business stock, life insurance, retirement assets, or even collectibles can be given. Each giver should assess their situation to determine what makes the most sense to give.
How to Give?
Expanding your typical understanding of giving is a good place to start. Is it best for you to start out by offering your time and talents or making a financial gift? Would it benefit your hometown more to start with a combination of these? Should you give directly, or through some other means such as a donor advised fund, private foundation, charitable trust, or charitable gift annuity? What is the tax impact? Should you give as an incentive, as an impact investment, or to facilitate community development?
How to give is a layered question with answers coming in many forms. That is why working with your trusted professional advisors or a philanthropy coach may help provide a clear sense and understanding of how you give impacts the overall giving aspirations you have defined for yourself.
How Much to Give?
This may be one of the more complex and difficult questions to answer as many factors come into play. It is common for individuals who want to give to ask: How much can I give and still ensure my family’s financial security and personal financial independence? If you have enough money for your own lifetime and for your family’s financial security, you may be able to experience the joys of “giving while living” or, if you prefer, leaving donations as a bequest at death. At this point, consulting with a trusted advisor may be a good way to determine exactly what can be allocated for personal needs, family obligations, and the greater good.
What is Your Next Step?
Our hope is that these questions help raise your awareness on the process behind giving. For it is through the giving of ourselves and our resources that we can make a difference, give back, and help those in need.
When you think about it, intentional, meaningful, and impactful giving is not that easy. It requires some soul-searching thought—who are we, what are our values, and what is truly important to us.
We have choices to make.
Let’s do some good!
Coming Next:How Pending Tax Legislation - the SECURE Act of 2019- will Impact your giving