What to Consider When Choosing a Charitable Organization

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The Bible encourages us to give to others. As you consider which charitable organizations to support, keep these things in mind.

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

The Bible repeatedly encourages us to give to others, share our good fortune, and be generous. So, it’s no surprise that those who take seriously their Catholic values seek out charitable organizations to support.

Giving to organizations that reflect Christ’s teachings can be one of life’s most satisfying activities. And it’s good for you; a number of studies have found that charitable giving can benefit your mental and physical health.

However, with so many charitable organizations that exist, how should you choose which to support? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Think about your values

Charitable giving is a way to live your values. When you choose organizations close to your heart that support the causes and institutions that matter to you, it’s a way to build a lasting legacy.

As you consider the charitable organizations you wish to support, use this as an opportunity to involve your family. Discussing causes that are important to you is a wonderful way to build new and lasting bonds. You may also learn more about the issues and charities that matter most to your loved ones. Choosing organizations for charitable giving is a good way to have conversations about your core beliefs.

Do your homework

Before giving to any organization, it’s a good idea to look into its mission and track record. What, exactly, does the organization do in the world? What impact will your donation have on people who need it or on the issue you want to address? How will this organization reflect your faith and values? These are all key questions that will help you make sound giving decisions.

Websites like CharityNavigator and Guidestar can help you review how well the organization adheres to best practices among charitable organizations and give you deeper insight into the organization’s budget, governance, and impact.

Learn about your giving options

Today, you have more options than ever in how you structure your giving. For example, you may want to make a direct gift that the organization can use for its greatest need. Or, some organizations may allow you to direct your gift to a specific cause or project.

In addition, some types of gifts can make a more long-lasting impact than others. For example, choosing an endowment allows you to create a fund that invests your gift and, through its earnings, supports your chosen cause. Your donation can grow over time, ensuring that the cause receives support in perpetuity, rather than being quickly depleted.

Organizations may also allow you to make gifts through your will or choose options like annuities or annuity trusts that pay out proceeds to you or your loved ones for a period of time before the gift is transferred to the charity. Before committing to give to an organization, make sure you understand your giving options and how those funds will be used.

Understand costs

While making a direct gift to an endowment fund usually doesn’t require additional fees beyond the amount of the donation, the endowment itself may require fees for the management and administration of the fund. Make sure you understand if a gift will be impacted by any additional fees, what those fees will go toward, and how much they will amount to.

Establish a budget

Your giving budget may also affect the charitable organization you choose. For example, establishing a Catholic Community Foundation endowment fund requires a gift commitment of $25,000 with an initial contribution of $1,000 or more. However, other giving options — such as making a gift from your will or trust — doesn’t cost you anything during your lifetime. As you look into potential charitable organizations to give to, make sure you understand what upfront investment, if any, will be required of you.

Overall, it’s a good idea to have an experienced professional help you create a plan to both maximize your impact and realize any tax or other benefit such giving affords you. Consult your accountant or wealth manager for advice, or contact the Catholic Community Foundation for additional help.

Choosing the right organization and giving options for you may seem daunting. However, by asking the right questions and involving your family and advisors, you can create a plan that has impact that last for more than a lifetime. To learn more about giving options with the Catholic Community Foundation, visit ccfmd.org.

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