At Cogent Strategic Wealth, we assist families like yours every day to design, build, and protect plans for achieving all things important in your life. Design. Build. Protect. These three simple words serve as a guide for how we keep your values, needs, concerns, and hopes at the forefront of everything we do — from the big picture to the smallest of details.

How do you apply this same focus to your charitable giving? We have a path for you to follow. 

Develop a Charitable Giving Strategy

Want to make your charitable giving more strategic and purposeful? Do you have an end goal for the impact you’d like to make, but are you unclear on how to get there? Do you believe your giving should be as high achieving as you are? To the extent you are charitable, we can help you magnify your gifts and make them even more impactful for you and your intended recipients alike. 

Efficient. Effective. Accountable

We have said this before in prior posts on charitable giving: Efficient, effective, and accountable is the name of the game. For giving, just as for investing, it’s essential to heed the evidence, lest your best intentions and ingrained assumptions run afoul with the real-life outcomes of your generosity. 

As usual, adopting a purposeful, systematic process begins with the first step of designing a plan. If you’re going to give, make sure you have developed a Charitable Giving Plan that’s guided by how you would like to help those you most want to reach out to. 

1. Get Focused With Your Charitable Giving

While we preach diversification in your investments, this is one area where we believe you should focus in and concentrate your efforts. Often, you can make a more significant impact when you limit the organizations or causes you support to a few you really care about, and then make larger, more impactful gifts to each. Begin by developing a personal charitable mission statement to help you focus your efforts. Fidelity Charitable® has put together a handy worksheet to help you do just that. You can access it here.

2. Choose a Few Worthy Nonprofits

Whether large or small, a well-run nonprofit increases the odds you’ll have a meaningful and effective impact on the causes you care most about. So, it’s important to decide which deserve your largess and attention. Where do you begin? Start by doing some research using sites like Candid or Charity Navigator, as well as investigating the nonprofit’s collateral and internally generated reports. Further your due diligence by reaching out to their leadership with a few basic questions you should ask every nonprofit. Questions like: What’s your most successful program and why? What are areas of opportunity for your organization? What could you do better? Where does most of your funding come from? What percentage of your budget comes from private donations, and what do private donations help you do that your other sources of funding don’t cover? What are your most urgent needs? What would make the greatest difference in helping your organization advance its mission? 

3. Limit Friction by Empowering, not Controlling

Consider providing unrestricted gifts to an organization you care about, as opposed to designating your charitable gifts for a special or limited purpose. This gives the charity the flexibility to use the funds on their most mission-critical priorities—which will help them do their best and deliver stronger results. 

4. Think Beyond a Year

Discovered a charity you really believe in? Commit to long-term support. Connect with the charity’s leadership, and articulate what your purpose is and how much you plan to give over multiple years. Nonprofits also love it if you can commit to monthly giving, which provides them a more dependable income stream. Like all organizations, the more they know about how much support to expect, the more effectively they can deploy the resources you provide. (Be aware, if your plan includes utilizing a Donor Advised Fund, grant recommendation rules require grants to be used exclusively to further charitable purposes; they cannot confer any nonincidental benefit to you, the account holder.) 

5. Optimize Your Giving

By building a smart and simple financial giving strategy into your Charitable Giving Plan, you should be able to magnify your impactful giving, increasing it by 20% or more without it hurting your bottom line. Long-term smart giving strategies include: Donating stock or other appreciated assets; “bunching” your charitable donations; going beyond traditional charitable giving and trying out impact investing; and using a charitable giving vehicle like a Donor Advised Fund (DAF), Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT), or Charitable Lead Trust (CLT). Research the options, then speak to your fiduciary wealth manager and tax advisor to see if you can make your giving dollars stretch further. 

6. Influence Like-Minded Others

If you are so inclined, you can do more than just give assets. Add your voice in helping to support the causes you care about. Follow your targeted organizations on social media and share posts, showcasing their work and educating others in your world about the issues and the solutions. If you can commit the time, agree to help with fundraising, volunteer in their programs, or join their board of directors. Talk up organizations you care about. Shine a light on their important missions or projects, which can lead to greater awareness and additional support from others. 

7. Take the First Step

It’s easy to feel like giving is something you’ll get to later. If you feel you don’t know enough about an issue or you don’t have the time to make a big difference right now, it’s fine to start small and build your awareness. Choose an organization that you are interested in and make a donation. Get to know them. Don’t delay. Act. If it resonates over time, go deeper. 

Whether you give a little or give a lot, Cogent wants to assist you. We help successful professionals like you design and build a personal Charitable Giving Plan for optimizing your charity dollars and doing more with your hard-earned money. We are well-versed in making charitable giving meaningful and impactful for high-achieving professionals like you. We’d love to be a part of developing your ideal Charitable Giving Plan, so give us a call today.


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