Giving your time, talent and resources

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Reuben Rashty

What mark do you want to leave on the world? What are the values that drive you? What matters most? Whether it’s your time, talent, or making a contribution, giving back can be one of life’s greatest rewards.

Philanthropy is being democratized. Individual donors have never been more empowered to make a difference. With just $25, you can make a micro-donation to a farmer in Peru, help cover upfront costs to build a girls’ school in Pakistan, or invest in a diversified portfolio of nonprofits, microfinance institutions, and social enterprises. You can also help support a cause without spending any money at all by joining a campaign or volunteering.

With so many ways to give, it’s important to be strategic about your philanthropy so you can make the most of your contributions.

Here’s a framework to help you determine your own approach to giving:

How You Give:

Time & Talent. One of the ways to help support causes and organizations you are passionate about is by volunteering your time and talent. A big advantage of volunteering is that it can allow you to see the direct result of your contribution.

Resources. Making a substantial contribution or donation may get a little more complicated. One of the most common strategies is donating directly to a charity, but there are plenty of other approaches to consider. A financial advisor can help you assess the pros and cons of each approach and how you can incorporate giving into your broader financial plan.

Here are some of the various ways you can put your charitable dollars to work:

1. Direct donation. A direct donation is a gift that is received in full by the recipient of choice. Nonprofits that are 501(c)(3) public charities are tax-exempt, and therefore the government generally allows you to deduct any direct donations (subject to income limitations) from your taxable income.

2. Donor-Advised Fund (DAF). A donor-advised fund is operated by a public charity. As the donor, you recommend the organizations that are to receive grants from your DAF, but all administrative duties and taxes are handled by the charity.

3. Designating a charity as a life insurance beneficiary. Another way to share your wealth is to designate a charity as a beneficiary on your life insurance policy. This is relatively easy to do, and you have the right to revoke the gift at any time by simply changing the  beneficiary of the policy. While this type of giving may provide an estate tax deduction, you will not receive any income tax deduction.

4. Charitable Trusts. There are two main types of charitable trusts: Charitable Remainder Trusts and Charitable Lead Trusts.

Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs): CRTs make distributions to  a non-charitable beneficiary (such as yourself) and after a certain period, distribute the remainder to a charity you care about.

Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs): CLTs operate differently than CRTs. CLTs make distributions to the charitable organization for a term of years and then distribute the remainder to a non-charitable beneficiary.

5. Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA). A CGA is a contract between you and a qualified charity in which you make a gift to the charity and, in return, the charity provides you (or other annuitant(s)) with a lifetime fixed income stream.

6. Private Foundation. A private foundation is a nonprofit organization  generally funded with gifts from a small number of individuals, families and/or corporations. Private foundations are required to distribute at least 5% of their net investable assets each year.

Before making a charitable commitment, make sure to do your due diligence so you can identify the right opportunities, manage expectations, and ensure accountability.

There are countless ways to use your resources—money, time, networks, expertise, and perhaps even social influence—to give back. Once you have identified the opportunities that are most aligned with your passions, the key is determining how you can allocate your time, talent or contribution to make the greatest impact on the causes you care most about. Whatever the size and scope of your giving, a
Financial Advisor can help you make a plan that reflects your priorities and works within your budget. 

Want to talk to Reuben about this or other topics featured in The Economic Blueprint?  Please email him at reuben.rashty@morganstanley.com or call him at 248-723-1843.  You can also contact Reuben’s colleague Kyle Zwiren, J.D. at kyle.zwiren@morganstanley.com or 248-723-1870.

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Reuben Rashty is a Managing Director / Financial Advisor with the Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor's individual circumstances and objectives.  Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, Member SIPC, or its affiliates.