How do I start giving to charity?

Question:

My husband and I would like to give to our daughter's school and to other charities. Do you have any advice before we go ahead with that? We didn't actually give to anyone last year but we just simply never got around to doing it and I want to avoid that this year.

Answer:

Here's my first-shot advice when doing financial planning for young doctors who are starting to make charitable gifts:

  • Pick a charity or two that really means something to you. When you do more for fewer charities, you can focus your effort and attention.
  • Donate a little to start with, and think about donating more later.
  • Get involved with your charity, see how it makes you feel.
  • If you feel good about the charity, give more than money, give them time, passion and energy.
  • Spread the word! Literally bring people in to see the good work the organization is doing.
  • If you're going to give a lot ($10,000 for example), give appreciated securities to gain a tax advantage by avoiding capital gains.
  • If you're giving every year, give once a year at the same time of year. It makes the bookkeeping and paperwork easier. It also makes the act more intentional, and gives you an opportunity to discuss it as a family, and share your values around the charity with your children.

Does it make sense to you? How do you feel about it? Please donate your comment below.