This week I’m featuring my first guest blog post – written by Jan Leonard, who is the Senior Vice-President and Managing Director of Charitable Trusts & Foundations at UMB Financial Corp. With over 25 years of experience in non-profit management, Jan is a well known authority on the subject. And since charitable giving is the 3rd piece in the save-invest-give trifecta, its important to understand the do’s and don’ts. Hope you enjoy!
Charitable giving is an investment with rewards! So treat it with the same care and caution that you do your portfolio of investments, your home, or any valuable object that you own. Here are some tips for giving that will maximize your investment.
1. First, Find Your Passion
For the most rewarding experience, follow your passion! Is it the school in your home town, your church or spiritual organization, maybe a special feeling for the needs of animals, the environment, STEM education or leadership programs for girls and boys? There’s no end to the local, regional, and worldwide needs where you can make a huge impact. Gifts of any size are appreciated and may be designated for a special purpose or for general funds.
2. Make an Educated Decision
Research the organizations you have selected just as you would for that new computer, dining table or snowboard. While most organizations have the best intentions, not all are run efficiently so know where the money is going. Check to see if there is a website for the organization. Sites like www.charitynavagator.com and www.guidestar.com provide financial and program information as well as ratings for charitable organizations. These services are free. And don’t forget to confirm that the organization is in good standing with the IRS and State in order to have your donation count as a tax deduction. Organizations can lose their tax exempt status by not filing returns timely, which means you don’t get your deduction.
3. The Personal Touch
If possible, meet with the leadership: the Executive Director or designee, Board Chair or Board member. No need to grill them, just ask them to tell you about the organization, its operations and needs. Ask about measuring results and goals accomplished.
4. A Few No No’s
Do not feel pressured to make a donation. In fact, you might want to volunteer or visit more than once. Ask friends and associates if they are familiar with the cause and its activities. And never give cash or confidential personal info.
Photo Credit: Daniel X. O’Neill