Of all of the Black and Cyber Days this month, Giving Tuesday is my favorite. It’s a chance to help your favorite organizations.
But you don’t have to give exclusively on this day. You can donate any time until the end of the year (to qualify for a 2018 tax write-off if you itemize). Yet far too many are scatterbrained when it comes to donating wisely. They don’t have a strategy.
You can, of course, set up a charity strategy for the end of the year. And you don’t need to have it in place by Giving Tuesday. You can also set up regular donations throughout the year.
Here are five key giving tips from Charity Navigator:
– Align Your Targeted Charities With Your Personal and Social Goals.
Do you want to tackle worldwide hunger, local homelessness or provide scholarships at your alma mater? Pick your key passions and see which institutions can best solve those problems.
“As you consider which charities to support this year, remember there are close to two million of them,” notes Charity Navigator. “That means you don’t have to settle for an organization that isn’t a perfect match for your beliefs and goals.”
– Are Your Targeted Institutions Spending Wisely?
That means they’re not blowing a lot of money on administrative and marketing expenses. “Examine the charity’s finances. Financially healthy organizations – those that are both financially efficient and sustainable – have greater flexibility and freedom to pursue their charitable mission. Ensure the charity is accountable and transparent.”
– Is The Charity Effective? That means they are making a difference — and can show you how. Carefully read their annual reports for details. Ask questions.
“Look for signs of effectiveness. The charity’s ability to bring about long-lasting and meaningful change in the world is the key reason for their existence and for your donation, so make sure you find evidence of its impact.”
– Does The Charity Have Good Leadership? “Good charities usually have formidable leaders, more so even than in the private sector. Look for a charity with a dynamic, proven leader. Organizations with high turnover usually struggle, and the inability to retain quality leadership is often a red flag for instability.”
– Do Your Donations Integrate With Your Estate Plan? Keep in mind that you can give some money now, but much more, later in your estate plan.
Have you put together an estate plan, BTW? You should at least have a will or living trust. For those with extensive estates, consult with an elder-law attorney. There are myriad tax and planning strategies you can employ.