CHARITABLE STRATEGIES

McFolling Financial can create the charitable strategies that best fits your personal finances.

Here are five other strategies for donating to your favorite causes and charities, and alleviating your tax bill too.

1. Donor-advised funds

What is a donor-advised fund?

Here's what you can't do: Donors may not control how the funds are used. They also may not designate specific charity recipients. You may not make a donation to a donor-advised fund that would pay your grandson's private-school tuition, not even if it's at a church. IRS considers that as an abuse. The donation would not be a deductible.

What are you allowed to do? You may make a large donation to your donor-advised fund now, before year-end, and get a deduction for the whole donation. The money may stay in the fund until you are ready to make your recommendations to the administrators about what acceptable causes and charities that you want to support.

Advantages? None.

Disadvantages? Most donor-advised funds insist on a pretty large minimum donation. You should expect to donate at least $5,000, but closer to $10,000.

2. Private Foundations

If you want to manage your own giving, or follow your passion, you may create your own private foundation. Do it yourself, following the guidelines on the IRS's extensive website. You should see the IRS page about private foundations.

There are even case studies you can follow to walk you through the process. You may also pay someone thousands of dollars to do it for you. See the IRS's online workshop for how to create a nonprofit organization.

Donations to operating charities get the normal deductions: cash contributions, up to 50% of AGI, while donations of appreciated securities are limited to 30% of AGI. If you're better at seeking donations than selling things, you could build yourself a job doing something that you love to do. You may like taking care of animals, teaching children, or promoting a sport. Reasonable wages are permitted, but there are rules against self-serving.

3. Community Foundations

Community foundations are growing in popularity as a charitable-giving vehicle. You may make small or large donations and see your money at work near your home.

For example, the Hartford Foundation arranges field trips to art exhibitions, shelters, schools, libraries, or water resources they support. See the site for more information.

4. Charitable lead trusts versus charitable remainder trusts

The charities love it when you set up a charitable remainder trust or CRT. You get to use the asset, whether it’s a house, a large certificate of deposit, or a valuable work of art during your lifetime. The charity pays you interest on the asset. When you die, the asset goes to the charity.

Charitable lead trusts, or CLTs, are essentially the opposite. CRTs are used in estate planning, to reduce the size of your estate. In this case, the charity gets the income for a set period of time. After a certain number of years, or at the time of your death, the asset goes to your heirs, not the charity.

5. Ordinary Giving

Even people who are not outrageously wealthy tend to be pretty generous. We donate our time, go on missions, buy raffle tickets to support a cause, and help our children raise funds for their schools and organizations.