Joanna's Consulting Services for Strategic Philanthropy
Creative Ways to Give
Give by the dozen. Most people who give to charity wait until December, partly because of the holiday spirit and usually in order to qualify for a tax deduction. But you rate the same annual tax break by giving in January or June. And with monthly donations, you create a habit and ease the cash flow.
Give the rewards of intellectual property. If you’ve written a book or screenplay, own a patent, license a service or the like, set up a plan to donate a percentage of incoming royalties or fees.
Give collaboratively. Set up a giving circle with friends, family or colleagues to learn about philanthropy and leverage your dollars and impact. To learn more, check out the step-by-step advice on the. If your pals live across town or around the world, consider a virtual circle. Use free online tools like Skype, Microsoft Office Live Meeting or Instant Messaging to electronically collaborate in real-time.
Give art, antiques or collectibles. These gifts can be donated to a qualified charity and still remain in your possession during your lifetime. The gift goes to the nonprofit after you die. But check with financial pros beforehand. Such gifts have become more complicated (and less of a tax break) in recent years.
Give your house. Gifts of real estate cover a wide variety of choices, including a house, apartment building, farm, vacation home, commercial buildings and land. According to Mary Ellis Peterson, Gift Planning Officer at the Minneapolis Foundation, “You can cede your mortgage to the foundation and, when it’s paid up, continue to live in the home for the rest of your life.” Upon your death, the house passes to any charity you select. The nonprofit can then sell it and use the proceeds. Such gifts do raise tax and legal issues. Most public foundations or charities have planned giving experts like Peterson who’d be delighted to help you work through the process.
Give with a legacy. By setting up a charitable remainder trust, with cash assets or, better yet, stock that will keep appreciating, you live on the trust’s income during your lifetime while the principal passes to a qualified charity after you die. CRTs are irrevocable, so you can’t change one after it’s established.
Give technology. Many groups, online and off, provide recycling outlets to donate used cell phones, PDAs, computers, peripherals, software (when you upgrade) and the like. Check with your company’s HR department, your local community foundation or schools and small-business training centers to find groups nearby. One online group, Secure the Call Foundation estimates there are over 45 million old cell phones sitting in drawers and closets. These can quickly be converted to 911 emergency-use mobiles and given free to, say, battered women and kids at risk.
Give mutual fund shares or appreciated securities. Besides netting a tax savings and an immediate charitable deduction for the market value of the donated assets, giving mutual fund shares that transfer to a qualified charity after you die will exempt you from any capital gains tax on the appreciation. Once again, check with advisers before proceeding.
Give your life insurance policy. “A life insurance policy is an ideal tool for charitable giving because many people find they no longer need policies they purchased earlier in their lifetimes,” says Peterson. Basically, you assign the policy to the charity (while still covering the annual premiums) and make the charity the beneficiary. If the policy is paid up, you receive an immediate tax deduction equal to the policy’s cash value at the time.