How To Give
Support your favourite cause, whatever your bank balance.
BY: EVAN ROSSER
If you’re looking to make a difference and don’t know where to begin, don’t rush in. Take your time and do the necessary due diligence. With philanthropy, as with most things in life, you get out of it what you put in. Put some real thought into why, how and to whom you want to give.
Jeffrey Solomon, co-author of The Art of Giving and president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, estimates that there are as many as 150 general areas (reproductive rights, arts appreciation, environmental preservation, etc.) in which a person can give. For many potential donors, the quantity of options available and the pressure to choose the right one can be the hardest part.
“The only way to really figure out which of the charities in Canada you want to give to,” says Owen Charters, executive director of CanadaHelps.org, a non-profit that facilitates online donations to the 85,000-plus charities registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), “is to start figuring out what means the most to you or your family.”
The amount you plan to give should be a factor in how you give. Charters notes that with online donations, “The funds get there faster with less cost and less administrative hassle.”
Charters advises that those considering larger donations “should actually start thinking about … getting a better tax advantage.” In short, instead of cash, donate securities. As well as the donation tax credit you would get from a cash gift, a gift of shares or mutual funds — any appreciated securities — helps you avoid paying tax on capital gains.
Establish a philanthropic budget by deciding how much you want to give, and spread the amount evenly throughout the year. Budgeting will also help you determine the amount you’re actually able to give. Maybe the $300 you gave last year was a little ambitious — or maybe it wasn’t enough.
A gift needn’t be something you give and forget about. Think about opening a donor-advised fund through a local community foundation. You’ll get a tax credit while retaining complete advisory over the allocation of the funds, allowing you to parcel your gift out over time to a variety of different causes. (To find out more, go to www.cfc-fcc.ca.)
In a recent poll, 51 per cent of respondents worried about giving cash to a fraud. Here are tips to avoid the fakes.
> Make sure you’re giving to a real charity. Confirm the charity is registered with the CRA and be sure to get a receipt.
> Do your homework. Ask to see a charity’s financial statements and annual reports. Reluctance to disclose this information indicates a lack of transparency.