Whether spending time with family or reflecting on the year, the holidays are often a time when we zero in on all there is to be grateful for. It’s also a time when many of us seek to pay that gratitude forward by giving back, especially within our own community. But where to focus efforts? Find those in the most need? There’s help for charitable-minded individuals—Greater Cincinnati Foundation serves as a hub for giving money with the greatest impact.
When COVID-19 hit, GCF partnered with other organizations to raise $7.3 million for the most vulnerable members of our community—they later contributed $5 million to the Racial Justice Fund, alongside partners like Graeters, Skyline and FC Cincinnati.
“At our website, we’re also curating a list of needs from local nonprofits called ‘A Special Gift,’ which is focused on safety net organizations that local donors can support,” Phillip Lanham, GCF’s chief philanthropy officer, says.
Many of the funds within GCF are donor-advised funds, where an individual or family contributes cash, stocks, property or bequests—GCF invests these assets and the donor decides which organizations to support.
“Compared to last year, grants from donor-advised funds are up 45 percent as of the end of September compared to the past year, for a total of $54 million,” Phillip says.
And year-end is a wise time to think about next year’s charitable giving.
“We all get requests, and we react by giving—but philanthropic giving experts have suggestions for carefully planning our giving,” Phillip says. “Half is for your passion areas, 30% should be loyalty areas like schools or houses of worship, and the last 20% for unplanned reaction giving, such as a natural disaster response.”
The best way to plan for charitable giving on a fixed or semi-fixed income is to make sure you first have a handle on your monthly budget, says Rob Grossheim, owner and lead advisor at Family Wealth Advisory Group.
“Charity begins at home. It feels good to help an organization that’s important to you, but you don’t want to become a beneficiary of that organization’s mission by gifting beyond what your budget allows,” Rob says.
Once you feel your budget can handle charitable giving, you can plan out giving much like you plan for retirement. Rob suggests separating it from your basic living expenses so you can consider whether to inflate the contribution over time, modify based on the timing of various cash flow assumptions, or adjust the goal amount based on market changes if you are using an investment portfolio to create your income flow.
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