What’s the best way to contribute to your favorite cause? Consider one of these options with various levels of commitment and control, just don’t forget to consult your attorney and financial advisor first.
Text by Carly E. Howard, JD, LLM | May 27, 2018 | Lifestyle

Charities depend on outright gifts of money, goods and volunteer time. For many of them, each annual giving campaign is a make-it-or-break-it fundraising effort. Every year, choose an organization that inspires you and donate whatever dollars you can spare and/or volunteer.

Leave a legacy by gifting money or personal property to charity in your Last Will & Testament or Revocable Living Trust. Many donors can make larger gifts at death than they could afford during life, so they’re able to yield a bigger impact.

A Charitable Gift Annuity is a contract where you give cash or other assets to a charity in exchange for guaranteed fixed payments from the charity for your lifetime. This is a fairly simple way to give at least $10,000 while keeping an income stream.

This is a more flexible but more complex option than a gift annuity. Your trustee invests the gifted assets and pays a certain amount of income to you or someone you designate for a term of years or a lifetime, as specified in the trust document. Consider this if you want to give at least $100,000 while keeping some control over the investments and naming of beneficiaries.

With this option, you contribute cash or other assets to a public charity to invest and then make recommendations for distribution of funds to qualified charities in your community over time. Your gift is ongoing, and you hand over administration responsibility while keeping some flexibility in recommending how funds are used.

Some families establish a private foundation to further an important public cause, primarily by making grants to other charitable organizations. This is an option if you want to give at least $1 million in perpetuity and desire family involvement. Private foundations are subject to strict organizational and filing requirements by the IRS, so management can be expensive.

› An expert in fiduciary matters, Carly E. Howard, JD, LLM, serves as an Estate & Trust Specialist for a national private wealth management team delivering proactive advice to executives and high net worth clients. She is also a Board Member for PhilanthroFest, the nation’s largest festival of giving, taking place at Museum Park on Apr. 11;