Are You Maximizing Your Giving?

We are entering the giving season. It’s the time of year when churches and non-profits raise most of their funds because individuals wait until the last minute to give a donation. In other words, most people give from their last fruits, not their first fruits.

Money has a stronghold over people, especially those who have never given any away. In 2017, Americans gave away $410 billion, which sounds like a lot, but it’s only 2% of GDP. Giving has floated around 2% of GDP for the past forty years.[1]  What if giving jumped to 20%? Can you imagine giving away $4.1 trillion? If people let loose of their purse strings, it could happen. According to Ron Blue, “Giving breaks the power of money.”

Maximizing your giving has several benefits. It will benefit the organization, the end user, and you. When you realize your dollar impacts lives, you’ll be motivated to give more.

Are you a cheerful giver? Do you maximize your giving? I was once told to give until it hurts and then give a little more. How can you maximize your giving and become a generous giver? Here are a few suggestions.

Plan. A financial plan will help you identify assets and resources to earmark for giving. It will align your investments to your mission.

Spend. Spending less than you earn will free up money so you can give more of it away. A quick run through your credit card and bank statements will identify several opportunities. Can you find a few items to eliminate or reduce? Your spending habits will also reveal what’s on your heart.

Debt. How much money do you owe others? Can you pay off your mortgage? Student loans? Auto loans?  The less you owe, the more you can give. Big banks and credit card companies don’t need your resources, but local non-profits do.

Stocks. The stock market has soared 290% from March 2009. If you’ve been investing for some time, you may be sitting on substantial capital gains. You can donate your appreciated securities to your favorite organization and avoid (legally) paying a capital gains tax. They’ll receive your shares free of taxation as well. You’ll also be able to write off your donation. The only one that loses in this scenario is the IRS.

Land. Do you own raw land? A vacation home? Rental property? Donating real estate is an excellent way to help non-profits. Some groups will set up a private annuity for you allowing you to receive income for several years because of your gift.

Stuff. Do you have an attic or basement bursting at the seams with stuff you no longer want? If your city is like mine, you probably have a storage facility on every corner. I’m positive the stuff in those units can be put to good use if it were given away.

Not Sure. If you’re ready to give, but you’re not sure who should receive your donation then establish a donor advised fund. It will allow you to make donations, receive a tax deduction, invest the assets, and eventually give the money away. It can be funded with cash or stock.

Time. If you’re tapped out financially, but want to help others, give your time. Organizations welcome volunteers. Can you give your time to your local church, hospital, school, homeless shelter, animal shelter, park, or library? A quick Google search for volunteer will give you numerous opportunities.

Are you ready for your giving test? Identify the amount of money you gave away on line 19 from schedule A of your tax return and divide it by the amount on line 22 from your 1040 form. What was the dollar amount you gave away in 2017? What was the percentage?

Can you maximize your giving this year? I believe you can.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” ~ Malachi 3:10


Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management firm located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.





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