Today is #GivingTuesday: a day to remember others and give generously to those in need during the Christmas season. If you can’t participate in #GivingTuesday by donating to your favorite ministries or charities, perhaps you can join in by creating a charitable giving plan for next year.
Charitable giving can be an important expression of our faith and a significant part of our finances. And as with any other part of our finances, creating a strategy for giving can make for a more effective and efficient use of what we have to give. A charitable giving plan goes beyond budgeting – though that is an important step. You should also decide who you are going to give to, how, and how often.
If you already have a budget, reviewing it should reveal what you can afford to give. If you don’t have a budget, today is a good day to create one! Your budget should cover all of your expenses and debts, and include line items for savings, and of course, charitable giving. Don’t be discouraged if you find you can’t give as much as you desire to give; it’s the heart of the giver, not the amount given that matters.
Deciding who to give that money to can be difficult if you are passionate about many different causes. However, it’s important to realize that you can’t afford to donate to everyone and everything. So take your time when making this decision. Discuss your options with your family. Pray. And remember: you can always choose different ministries and charities in the future.
How will you donate to your chosen charities? Perhaps the most common way is to write checks or give cash. But did you know many charities can accept investments and other assets as donations? You can give stocks, leave assets through a will or Revocable Living Trust, or open a Charitable Gift Annuity. Gifts like these can increase the impact of your donation while providing you with unique tax savings.
Lastly, you need to know when and how frequently you will give. Will you give regularly throughout the year? Make one donation at the end of the year? Considering what you can afford, how you plan on donating, and the needs of your chosen charities can help you decide.
Whether you give once a year on #GivingTuesday or tithe regularly every Sunday at church, make sure you have a charitable giving plan; with the right plan, you may discover you can afford to give more than you ever thought you could.