Money Monday: Giving With Purpose

Steps on creating a charitable giving strategy.

Posted: 12/10/2012 08:00 AM EST

It’s perfectly fine to give as opportunities arise. However, being proactive about charitable giving allows you to be strategic about how you donate your money and time.  

1. Identify a cause. In deciding where to give, identify areas where you are most passionate. For example, if you’re passionate about making sure youth in urban communities receive adequate education, look for organizations that support this cause. Whatever your passion, always consider ways to align your charitable efforts with a relative cause/organization.

2. Decide what you’ll invest. After you identify what you’re passionate about, give careful thought to what you will donate — time, talent or treasures (money). When we think of charitable giving, we typically focus on money. Thinking more broadly allows you the opportunity to contribute in a way that works best for you, even when you may not have the financial resources.

Are you really good at doing something or professionally trained? Perform services for an organization that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

3. Select an organization. Once you’ve decided how you will invest and a cause you want to support, determine where you will invest. Whether volunteering or providing financial resources, nonprofits rely on individual contributions. However, stretching yourself too thin by contributing to multiple organizations might not be as valuable as focusing on one or two to concentrate on. 

4. Research your charity. Giving in any form is a commitment, which is why it’s important to know whether the organization you choose is registered and reputable. Several sources evaluate charities and compile findings in an online database of registered organizations (see references below). If you’re unable to find a specific charity using these resources, contact the organization directly to request documentation, including: 501(c) (3) status; IRS Form 990; or its most recent annual report. For local organizations, or national organizations with regional offices, you can also contact your state government for verification.  

Here are two resources for researching your charities: Better Business Bureau — Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Watch (formerly known as American Institute of Philanthropy - AIP).

This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. The accuracy and completeness of this information is not guaranteed and is subject to change. Since each individual’s financial situation is unique, you need to review your financial objectives to determine which approaches might work best for you.

© 2012 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved.

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