Make a charitable giving plan the whole family can follow

January 27, 2022 Tarah Wolking
Learn how to change the way your family thinks about donating to charity and see how you could make an impact for years to come.

Giving back to charity during the holiday season is a common tradition in many families. And thanks to the widespread popularity during that time of the year, it’s easy to find ways to do so.

But once people return to their busy lives, finding intentional ways to continue giving back throughout the year can be forgotten. That is, if you don’t have a plan in place.

That’s what one Schwab client, Lynn, found herself thinking about, “How can I help my family better understand the concept of giving back?”

From charitable giving to charitable living

Lynn wanted to extend her giving beyond just making large distributions to charity. She wanted to find a way to involve her family in the giving process and teach them why it’s important.

She wasn’t exactly sure where to start. But thankfully that changed after a financial planning conversation with Tod Lebeda, a Schwab Financial Consultant.

“I learned that Lynn did not have a succession plan in place,” said Tod. “Based on her personal financial goals and her desire to involve family in her giving plan, we decided it would be best to set up a meeting with Mary Jovanovich from Schwab Charitable.”

The group met to answer Lynn’s questions and document a plan that would work for her family.

“Lynn wanted to do more than give away money. She wanted to create a legacy that would be passed on to future generations,” shared Mary. “We helped her find a way to identify organizations with values that aligned with her family’s values and explained how she could name her family members as nominators and successors.”

Having a plan in place has given Lynn an enjoyable way to teach her family about donating. It has also allowed her to have more clarity about the organizations she donates to and the ability to focus on the causes she’s passionate about.

Making your giving plan

Here are some suggested steps to help you start thinking about your personal charitable giving strategy: 

  1. Find your focus: Like any good plan, it helps to start with the “why.” Take time to think about what you’re passionate about, write it down and be specific. Vague or undefined goals make it difficult to develop a strong strategy. 

  2. Do your research: Look into nonprofits and learn exactly what it is they support. It’s important to know how your donations will be used and if the organization’s values align with your own. 

  3. Determine how you’ll give: You can volunteer your time, offer your knowledge and expertise, or give cash or other assets to charities. To potentially give even more to the causes you care about, you can contribute appreciated non-cash assets directly to charity. Educate yourself on tax-smart giving strategies and consider speaking with a specialist. 

  4. Make a budget: A pre-determined budget helps ensure that you’re making financially smart choices for yourself, your family, and the causes you’re supporting. 

  5. Track your progress: Keep a record of your gifts and review it over time. Ask yourself questions like: Are these still my values? Do I need to adjust my budget? Is my charitable giving making an impact?

Want to do a deeper dive? Take advantage of the Schwab Charitable Giving Guide.