A charitable organization depends upon the generous gifts of its supporters in order to continue its mission in serving the needs of the community. When most people think about charitable giving, they usually think of a cash gift: writing a check to a favorite charity either on occasion or on a regular basis. While this kind of giving is the most common, there are additional methods for financially supporting charitable causes which are less known but particularly useful for some supporters. These additional methods fall under the category of "Planned Giving."
The simplest form of Planned Giving is to remember a charity in your Estate Plan by making a gift of cash or property in your Will or Trust. You may leave a specific dollar amount, a specific percentage of your Estate, or a specific gift of real estate or securities to a specific charity.
You may have a life insurance policy or a retirement plan such as an IRA, a 401(k), or a 403(b). Life insurance policies and retirement plans have documents commonly known as "Designated Beneficiary Forms" that allow you to designate who will receive such assets upon your death. You may name a charity as one beneficiary among many or as the sole beneficiary of such an asset. Many donors receive nominal life insurance policies through their employers which can serve as a valuable vehicle for making gifts to a charity.
Finally, there are other more sophisticated forms of Planned Giving such as Charitable Remainder Trusts and Charitable Lead Trusts. Regardless of the size of one’s Estate, there is an appropriate Planned Giving option for everyone. Many donors are reluctant to make lifetime gifts for fear of breaking their budget or outliving their savings. The beauty of Planned Giving is that you can still make a significant impact on those causes close to your heart while not having to worry about running out of financial resources during life.
A qualified Estate Planning attorney can help you find the right method for charitable giving that fits your circumstances and allows you to pass on your values to the next generation.