From the time we are young, most of us are taught that decisions about money are not to be taken lightly. Through experiences like saving up to buy a new bike, purchasing our first car and choosing a new home, we become familiar with budgeting, saving and praying about the big financial decisions in our lives.
However, when it comes to making large-scale donations to charity, we tend to see little beyond oversized cheques being handed out on TV. And yet, as Abundance Canada clients Fred and Sally MacDonald (pseudonyms) taught me, taking the time to make the right decision when we’re giving is just as important as when we’re spending.
Fred and Sally worked together for many years, slowly building their company up from a part-time project into a successful business. When they decided to retire, they set about building their dream home and selling the company to their children. What a stressful time!
Conversations with contractors about exterior finishes, paint colours and kitchen layout options were interspersed with business transition meetings with accountants, lawyers and financial planners. Early in the process, Fred and Sally had decided to give the money from the sale of their business to charity. However, when they finally received the funds, they were completely exhausted.
They had put so much energy into all of the other decisions around the house and the sale of the business, they didn’t have the energy left to work out the details of their giving. The pressure of a looming tax deadline pressed down on them. They knew God was calling them to reflect and make a wise decision, but they felt completely overwhelmed by it! Then, one of Fred and Sally’s friends from church suggested that Abundance Canada might be able to help them.
When I met with the MacDonalds, they were relieved to find out that they could make their donation into a donor-advised gifting account. They would get their charitable receipt to meet income tax deadlines but could still take as much time as they needed—even years—to decide how they wanted to distribute the money to charity. What a relief!
Making a large donation may happen only once or twice in a lifetime, so it’s important to approach it with the same careful consideration as any other important financial decision. Choosing where to give starts with deciding what impact you want your money to have in the world. Once you have identified a cause you’re passionate about, you need to spend some time researching the various charities working in that sector. With 86,000 registered charities operating in Canada, there is no lack of places to give.
It’s worth the time to thoroughly explore each charity’s website or call it with questions. Talk to friends or tap into social media to find out what people have to say about the different organizations you’re considering. Look into public records of charity finances. This combination of information will help you to decide whether an organization is one you want to support.
It’s been a couple of years since I first met with Fred and Sally. They’re enjoying their new home and the freedom of retirement, and they are excited about disbursing their donation to charity. Working with their donor-advised account, they have the time to reflect, research and pray about how and where God is calling them to give. Now that’s proving to be a very wise decision.
Sherri Grosz is a gift planning consultant with Abundance Canada. For more than 40 years, Abundance Canada has effectively helped Canadians with their charitable giving in their lifetime and through their estate. To learn more, visit abundance.ca or call 1-800-772-3257 to arrange a free no-obligation consultation.