charitable giving

Which Charitable Giving Strategy is Right for You?

The onset of Autumn brings beautiful fall colors to the Northeast and not long after, Thanksgiving officially begins the holiday season. During this pre-holiday period, letters start arriving in mailboxes from charitable organizations requesting that prospective donors consider contributions before the year’s end. Instead of responding immediately to each letter, consider an overall charitable giving strategy to maximize the impact of your charitable dollars.

Many years ago, I worked with a generous elderly client who received many such letters. When a list was compiled of all her contributions for the year, she was surprised to find that she had sent multiple checks to several of the organizations. That led her to adopt a more organized approach in future years.


Setting up a charitable giving strategy can lead to a more impactful and efficient result. In addition to identifying which causes are important to you, you should consider the type of involvement you want in the charitable organization(s) and whether to involve other family members.

Engaging other family members may present an opportunity to demonstrate family values or provide financial education.

There are many ways to give and sometimes a combination of ways makes sense. Some methods of giving we discuss with clients are described below.


One method that has broad appeal is giving via a Donor Advised Fund or Charitable Gift Account. These accounts are offered by many financial institutions, including Schwab and Fidelity, and may also be available through other organizations such as the local community foundation. A Donor Advised Fund offers the benefits of a low minimum to get started (often $5,000), an immediate potential tax deduction, low minimum grant request amounts, low administration costs, and helpful reporting for tax purposes and organization to name a few.


Another often overlooked method is to donate appreciated securities directly to the charity instead of writing a check. The donor avoids capital gain tax, may qualify for a tax deduction for the donation and the charity is able to benefit from the full value of the donated securities.


A third method of giving for individuals over 70 ½ is to make a qualified charitable distribution (“QCD”) directly from their IRA up to a ceiling of $100,000 per year per individual. A QCD is tax efficient in that it does not increase AGI and it counts toward the individual’s required minimum distribution. As with other donations, no benefit can be received in exchange and the donation needs to be substantiated.

By having a charitable giving plan, you are likely to be more thoughtful, strategic and impactful with your donations.

For more information or instructions on how to listen to a recording of HTG’s Charitable Giving Webinar, please contact me at

Valerie Connolly, CFA

Valerie joined HTG in 2011 as a senior advisor. Drawing on 30 years of experience in financial services, she greatly enjoys collaborating with clients to shape their financial aspirations. Valerie takes a lead role in developing client investment plans, researching investment vehicles and developing firm-wide investment policy.

Valerie received a BA from Wellesley College and an MBA from University of Chicago. She is a CFA® charterholder and a member of the CFA Institute and CFA Society Stamford.