Most Americans who accumulate some level of wealth experience charitable impulses and want to give back. This can be a wonderful experience or very challenging. What determines the experience? Usually it is the presence of a charitable plan, not just good intentions.
For many new clients who come to Whitnell, charitable giving is on their minds. Often times, an affluent family or individual has reached the point where they want to give back to their community and to charities about which they are passionate. The reasons for this vary greatly.
Some individuals want the prestige associated with being a giver. They want to associate with like-minded people and enrich their lives. It’s fun for them to be involved with charities that are meaningful to them. Some people who serve on boards have been touched by those they serve. They want to get involved and help support the charity, often because they’ve personally known someone who has experienced the issue the charity addresses.
Some affluent individuals are deeply religious and see their charitable giving as an important part of their faith life. Some wealthy individuals want to set the right example for their children and build or continue a legacy of giving back.
Many of our ultra-affluent clients believe that with great wealth comes great responsibility. Many family leaders decide that wealth is capped at a certain level for individual use and the rest goes to charity. In some instances the children of affluent individuals, some of them teenagers, want their parents to help them set up charitable programs.
No matter the reason, charitable giving comes with feelings of great purpose but also significant ambiguity. As much as people want to make an impact in the world, they also want to be intelligent in how they do so.
Most people know that the way they make a contribution has a big impact on both the giver and receiver. Many people desire to maximize the tax efficiencies of their gift for themselves and to increase the impact of the gift. There are so many ways to be charitable and each path has differing outcomes.
Some people need help defining which charities to support. Today there are thousands of worthwhile organizations doing good work in the world. Other families need help with the associated due diligence that should be a part of any sizable gift. Charitable organizations come in many shapes and sizes and with differences in oversight and reporting.