’Tis the season for tzedakah. Whether for year-end tax planning, or a desire to help those less fortunate, December is a great time for charity.
Maimonides noted — and scientific studies have proven — that the act of giving benefits both receiver and giver. Once you have made the commitment to perform the mitzvah of tzedakah, it is helpful to identify the causes that resonate with you and align with your values.
Below are a few considerations for making charity a more meaningful part of your life, and for making your money go further.
• Make charity a family affair: Pooling money as a family, and voting on where and how to allocate those funds, is a great way to teach children the importance of charitable giving. The process will also help you define your family values and philanthropic goals.
• Make a day of it: Attending a charity luncheon or gala is a great way to support your
favorite cause, or learn more about a new one. You should be prepared for “the ask.” Making a day of contribution is an easy way to support the organization and its mission. If you are a guest at an event, a day of contribution is also a thoughtful way to thank your event or table host.
• Contributions sent after consideration: No matter how you discover a new charity, you should take some time to reflect on the organization’s goals. This includes reviewing the organization’s website, evaluating the types of programs the organization supports and even considering the organization’s administrative costs. GuideStar.org, CharityNavigator.org, Charitywatch.org and Give.org are all valuable resources that can help you evaluate an organization’s performance in achieving its mission. Taking time for consideration can help you feel comfortable with your donation and allows you to make a donation to an organization that resonates with you.
• Long-term commitments: Donor advised funds are becoming a popular vehicle for the type of long-term charitable
commitments organizations require to carry on their missions. Donor advised funds provide substantial tax benefits and are less expensive and less onerous than private foundations. The Jewish Community Foundation and many private financial firms offer donor advised funds.
• Establish a scholarship: Supporting an
alma mater or other favorite public or private institution is a great way to invest in the future, establish a legacy and strengthen your ties to a great organization.
• Legacy giving: Legacy giving happens
upon a donor’s passing, but the planning for it often starts as a legacy gift during a person’s life as part of their estate plans. The legacy gift is intended to help leave or further the donor’s legacy within the charitable organization. Of course, surviving family members may also make a legacy gift to honor the loss of their loved one. The legacy left is
powerful, no matter the form.
Arizona’s Jewish nonprofit organizations rely heavily on community support. There are many ways to perform the mitzvah of tzedakah and all are beneficial and appreciated. Giving should align with personal charitable goals and fulfill a personal desire to improve the community. JN
Allison L. Kierman is the managing partner of Kierman Law, PLC, an Arizona estate planning law firm based in Scottsdale. She's on the board of directors at Congregation Beth Israel. Visit kiermanlaw.com for more information.