Ways you can give
There is no one size that fits all when it comes to philanthropy and charitable giving.
There are many ways of giving to suit your particular needs, ranging from a bespoke charitable foundation at one end of the spectrum to ad-hoc direct gifts at the other. Between these two extremes, many donors will actually find that giving through an intermediary such as a donor-advised fund or a community foundation is actually the best option.
Create a bespoke foundation
Individuals and families often use a philanthropic foundation to structure their giving because it gives them maximum control and can provide a focus and a structure for their giving. It allows strategic giving and many families like the fact that it connects them through foundation governance.
A foundation is also useful in tax planning since donors can make a single tax-relieved contribution and then can make charitable grants over time.
Foundations are seen by some as the ‘gold standard’ for philanthropy and are also a way to create a lasting legacy with a structure that can receive bequests under your will.
Use a donor advised fund
A donor-advised fund helps you to make an irrevocable gift to charity and then make recommendations from time to time about which charitable projects receive grants from this fund. You may also be invited to suggest investment options. Like charitable foundations, these funds case be useful for tax planning and they generally allow you to suggest charitable grants at your own pace over time.
This option removes the personal responsibility and time commitment involved in running a foundation, and can be more private, if that’s needed.
You can create a donor-advised fund during your lifetime, or under your will, with a charitable bequest, and depending on the particular fund, you can often recommend grants to charitable projects located around the world.
Make direct gifts
You might start your philanthropic journey by making one-off gifts to the charities that you want to support. This way, you can simply write a cheque or make a pledge from your personal funds – there are no complications like formal decision-making, or recommendation forms to complicate things.
Some individuals and families do find in the longer term that it is challenging to create and develop a strategic program of philanthropy through direct gifts alone and at this point they start thinking of other options on the giving spectrum [link to table] that allow strategic giving and tax planning.
Gifts directly to charity can be as structured and specific as a donor wishes; you can specify for example whether you want your gift to be attributed to you. If you want to be completely anonymous you can impose conditions on the reporting and other aspects of your gift.
Even if you set up a full charitable foundation or other vehicles to give in a more strategic way, you can of course still carry on making direct gifts to the charities that you feel you want to support, when you want to support them. Different forms of giving are not mutually exclusive.
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