We had a fantastic meeting today with Advanced Philanthropy Partners and our whole team (not all made the photo opp) to discuss our firm’s philanthropic goals and how to maximize our impact in the community. Grateful we have a team with such big hearts. A big thank you to Michael Watson and Meg Crimmins for their insight!!

Advanced Philanthropy Partners was formed in March 2019 to help corporate clients develop community engagement and philanthropic social responsibility strategies and to also assist nonprofit agencies and governmental agencies throughout the Southeastern United States.  They assist nonprofit organizations through analysis, branding and mission awareness, facilitating board development, facilitating board retreats, event management, developing planned giving programs, annual fund development, and much more.

Learn more about Advanced Philanthropy Partners HERE.

This original article was written by Allison Kade for Forbes.

 

We’re big fans of legendary investor Warren Buffett, so when he announces that he wants to teach us something—for free, no less—we take note.

He and his sister, Doris Buffett, are a dynamic duo when it comes to charitable giving: Last year alone Buffett gave away $3.084 billion.

Now the 83- and 85-year-old siblings are hosting a free online course called Giving With Purpose about how to maximize what we give to charity and follow in their pretty generous footsteps—you know, at your own pace.

One of the most frequent excuses you hear around charitable giving is, “I don’t have enough money to make a difference.”

But individuals were the single greatest source of charitable giving in 2012, at $228.9 billion, according to Giving USA.

I enrolled in the six-class course to see what it was all about. Would it entice me to open my wallet even wider?

For me, the biggest takeaway from Giving With Purpose was the “RISE Framework for Social Change,” developed by Rebecca Riccio, program director of Northeastern Students4Giving at Northeastern University and author of the course’s lectures. RISE is a fancy acronym representing four things to look for when deciding whether a given charity merits your contribution. Often, where to start and whom to give to are the only things stopping us from being more charitable. This four-step process can help you decide.

1. Relevance

We’ve all been hit up for donations by friends, coworkers and roommates’ aunts who are going to rock that walkathon. Sometimes, we give based on our gut or happen to love the person doing the fund-raising. That’s fine, but you want to avoid blowing your give-to-charity budget without absolute confidence that your money is making a real difference.

Start by clarifying what motivates you, says Buffett. Giving With Purpose recommends some questions to help you. Here, a few good examples:

 

2. Impact

To maximize your impact, there are two ways to analyze the giving you’ll be doing.

First, your portfolio: This, simply put, is the collection of all your donations. Just as you might dedicate some percentage of your investing portfolio to “just for fun” investments, you might donate a small percentage of your total charity to “gut” giving, like supporting your friend’s fund-raiser triathlon.

Next, your toolkit. In addition to money, there are many different ways you can help. For example, you can dedicate time, professional skills or outreach to your social networks. “When you’re considering a gift . . . you can ask yourself first, ‘Is a cash gift to the organization an effective way for me to make a difference, and second, what else in my toolkit can I use to increase my impact?’” instructs Riccio.

What about measuring the organization’s impact? “One thing to pay attention to is what the numbers an organization provides about its impact really mean,” Riccio says. For example, a food bank might provide information about how many people it serves or how many pounds of food it provides, but “they won’t necessarily tell you whether the food bank reaches out to the households at greatest risk, or if they’re referring people to other services to help them address the reasons that hunger is a part of their life,” she explains.

If you’re deciding between two organizations that address the same issue, keep in mind that one may serve more clients, but the other might have a longer-lasting impact on fewer people.

3. Sustainability

Being a nonprofit doesn’t mean a company shouldn’t make money, just that it must reinvest that money toward its cause, rather than in bonuses for corporate execs. You’ll want to invest in nonprofits with the ability to sustain themselves, so they’re not solely dependent on asking for more money.

There are two main sources of revenue for nonprofits: income through a traditional business model (supplying goods or services in exchange for money) and fund-raising. Ideally, a nonprofit should pursue diverse revenue sources in case one dries up or becomes less reliable. If a nonprofit shows a budget deficit for a few years in a row, that may raise a red flag about whether it’s running on a sustainable model.

You can do research right on an organization’s website, which usually provides enough information to give you a sense of where it gets its money, and how it spends it. You can also look at an organization’s Form 990, an annual IRS filing that details its revenue, expenses, program costs and compensation for key officers and employees. You can find nonprofits’ 990’s through the Foundation Center’s 990 Finder and GuideStar.org.

A word of caution, however. Beware an organization that underpays its staff: “Nonprofits can feel a lot of pressure to keep costs down in a variety of ways, such as offering salaries that are inadequate to attract and retain qualified staff, cutting back on evaluation and performance measurement, and under-investing in critical infrastructure such as data management systems and effective fund-raising tools,” says Riccio.

According to The Overhead Myth, a website run by GuideStar.org, “Under-investing in administrative costs is consistently linked with poor organizational performance and sustainability—trapping organizations. In our view, as long as these expenses support a nonprofit’s mission and goals, they should be considered reasonable.”

The second aspect of sustainability to think about is personal sustainability. How much do you give per year, and are you satisfied with that amount? Could you give more, and do you want to? How does that total fit in with your overall budget? Your money will go even further if you itemize your deductions and report your charitable giving. Charity Navigator provides a giving calculator to understand the tax implications of your giving.

4. Excellence in Management and Operations

You can get a sense of how tightly an organization’s ship is run by looking at any public facilities it runs to see if the space is clean, safe and inviting. “Take a look at the organization’s website and social media to see how it approaches marketing and communications,” Riccio says. “Look for signs that the organization communicates clearly, consistently and professionally.”

And take a good look at the staff to get a sense of who’s behind the cause: The board of directors is responsible for everything from the organization’s financial accountability to preserving its mission, and the executive director “has overall responsibility for executing the organization’s strategy, managing the staff and operations, and is often heavily engaged in fund-raising,” says Riccio.

 

As parents, we want to raise compassionate and kind children who strive to make this world a better place. What better time to teach our children the importance of giving and gratitude than the holidays? However this is easier said than done. If you’re like me, most of your charity comes from your wallet, and financial donations can be a hard concept to teach children. Or you may want your child to be involved but worry they are too young to participate or understand. To make the most meaningful impact on our children, they should be actively involved and able to relate to the cause.

    1. Donate: Financial donations can be impactful for kids if it’s from their own hard earned money. As you’re teaching your child about finance, start a save/spend/share jar system. From their share jar, help them find a charity that they can relate to, like one of the below.
      • DonorsChoose.org connects teachers in high-need communities with donors who want to help. Donors can search projects and choose the one they want to support. Once the project is completed, donors get a thank you letter from the teacher as well as photos from the classroom. Chris Pearsall, Vice President of Brand and Communications says the lesson is two-fold: “They learn about the importance of giving to others, and to be grateful for the things they have that they may take for granted.”
      • Have an animal loving child? Visit World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society or your local shelter for ways that your child can donate or volunteer.
      • What better way for our kids to donate than to grant a lifelong wish for a child in need. Make-A-Wish grants a wish for a child diagnosed with a life threatening illness on average every 34 minutes. Click here to donate.
      • More family friendly charities here: 
    2. Give a gift to a child in need.  There are multiple ways to do this. You could call your local hospital and see if they would accept gifts for their pediatric patients. Toys for Tots  provides toys for less fortunate children in the community. Click here to find a local drop off location.  Your local Ronald McDonald House provides housing to families of children receiving treatment. Your child can make a special trip to a local McDonalds to contribute to their Donation Box.
    3. Throw a holiday giving party: There are endless ways to throw a party for a good cause. Throw a craft party where the kids make cards for troops overseas or decorations for a nursing home. Or ask each friend to bring a gently used toy that can be donated.
    4. Start in your own neighborhood: Do you have an elderly neighbor who lives alone? Bake some cookies with the kids to bring over. Or set up a stand in your neighborhood with winter treats and donate the proceeds. Sometimes the simplest actions have the largest impacts.
    5. Visit a nursing home: Have your child make cards or treats and deliver them to a local nursing home. Or just visit! Kids can make a huge impact by just spending time reading, talking or playing games with the residents
    6. Support a local family: Contact your local church or social services office and ask if there’s a family you could help this season. Your family can bring over gifts, holiday meals or help decorate their house.
    7. Build a house: Kids learn in a tangible way how they can make a positive impact by volunteering to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. If they are too little to actually work, they can hand out snacks and drinks to the volunteers.
    8. Start a class project: No better way to engage kids than by making them the leader. Help your child set up a donation jar or coat / food drive in their classroom. They can make signs and recruit volunteers.

This original article was written by , Forbes.com

We encourage you to make your charitable contributions before year-end and also before possible new tax law changes are made.  A Schwab Charitable Donor-advised fund account is a simple and tax-smart way to direct your charitable giving.  You can grow your account tax-free and recommend grants to your favorite charities at any time.  Here is more information about donor-advised funds.

 

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This orginal article was written by RAY MARTIN for CBS’s MONEYWATCH.

Among the tax-saving strategies to consider as part of your year-end planning involves your charitable donations.

First, some background regarding how President-elect Trump’ tax plan could affect your 1040 in 2017. He wants to reduce the number of individual income tax brackets from the current seven to three, with rates of 12, 25 and 33 percent. This means the current top tax rate of 39.6 percent would be cut by 6.6 percentage points, to 33 percent. Trump’s tax plan would also cap the total amount of itemized deductions at $100,000 for single filers and $200,000 for joint filers.

Under today’s rules, if you’re in the top 39.6 percent bracket, each $1,000 donated to a charity in 2016 will result in federal tax savings of about $400. But if Trump’s plan becomes reality in 2017, that same donation made next year would yield a tax savings of only about $330 (under the proposed top 33 percent bracket).

If you fall into the proposed 25 percent tax bracket, each $1,000 donation would result in tax savings of just $250.

And if your itemized deductions are limited by the proposed cap, then some of your charitable donation deductions in future years could be disallowed altogether.

That means people in higher income brackets who plan to make charitable donations in future years should consider bunching, or front-loading, their donations for the next several years by making larger gifts before Dec. 31.

One way to do this is to use a donor giving account under a charitable giving program, or a donor-advised fund. Major financial firms, including FidelitySchwab and Vanguard offer charitable giving programs and make it easy to set up.

Here’s how it works. You open a special brokerage account, called a donor giving account, in which you’re the donor and account holder, and the account is held in custody by a charitable fund sponsored by the financial firm.

Next, you decide how much you want to transfer into this new account. Say you typically make donations of $10,000 per year, you could decide to front-load your giving by making a larger donation in 2016 of $40,000 into the new account. You would then be allowed to claim a $40,000 charitable donation for 2016.

Over the next four years, you can direct the charitable fund to disburse the money from this account to the charities of your choice, in the amounts and at the times you specify. The best part is that you can claim a charitable donation tax deduction on your 2016 tax return for the $40,000 you transferred into the donor giving account.

Note that using a donor giving account under a charitable fund program has three downsides.

First, the transfer into a donor giving account is irrevocable. You can’t take it back — and all the funds must be donated to charitable organizations.

Second, unless your donor account is funded with a larger balance (such as $250,000 or more) most programs require that the cash or securities you transfer into it be invested into one of their proprietary investment strategies offered under the program. If you’re a skilled and experienced investor, you might do better by keeping your money and investing it yourself.

Finally, these charitable funds charge administrative fees, typically in the 0.60 percent range, which is a fee for servicing and disbursing the funds in future years. You’ll want to make sure to use an investment strategy that’s likely to earn a return that more than offsets this fee, which shouldn’t be hard to do.

If using a donor giving account to make a larger charitable donation in 2016 appeals to you, the best way to do it is to transfer appreciated shares of stock or a fund you already own in an existing taxable account. This results in two tax benefits: a charitable deduction and avoiding ever paying tax on the capital gain from the donated stock or mutual fund shares. Given the stock markets’ recent record highs, this appears to be a smart thing to do now.

Don’t delay. The account must be set up and the transfer into it must be completed before Dec. 31.