Creating Your Charitable Vision

 A charitable vision can help you to define purpose and goals as you make a commitment to organizations and causes that are important to you. While a formal vision is not appropriate for everyone, it may add meaning to something you’re already doing. As I continue my monthly series on charitable giving, there are six important things to think about that can get you started crafting your own vision.

Who’s with you?

Who’s making the decisions for your charitable commitments? Is this a family endeavor or solo venture? Would you prefer to coordinate with other like-minded individuals? Would it be useful to consult with a trusted advisor such as a financial planner, CPA, or attorney? Decide and write down who calls the shots, who should be consulted and how you will communicate with each other.

What’s the point?

Purpose helps to make decisions easier. Is your time and money committed to a particular cause? Do you and your team need to explore thoughts in this area further? It may be time for a refresher where you look to branch out or ramp up with new or different gifting strategies. Perhaps you’d like to tie your charitable work to important values. Getting down to the why and purpose may uncover a new path for your commitments.

Adding it all up.

How much are you willing to commit or aim for when it comes to time and money? Perhaps you’d like to become more involved with the day-to-day operations of an organization. Maybe you’ve been tapped to take on leadership projects and you are exploring the depth of commitment that you’re comfortable with. Make sure that your time and money aren’t just an afterthought but they’re being dedicated to things that are important to you.

Does it fit with your big picture?

You’ve assembled your team, defined your purpose, and put some hours and dollars onto paper. A talk with your financial planner about your charitable vision may uncover even more options to have an impact in your own personal way. Here are some areas where your planner can help:

  • Given your overall financial picture, is it realistic to give the amount you’d like to be giving each year? Is there room to give more? Have the conversation so your charitable vision fits into your personal financial plan.
  • Give me a break! Gifting strategies will often come with the opportunity to save on your tax bill. There can be both charitable deductions as well as reduction in unrealized gains on your brokerage statement when gifting is done right. This type of planning is best done by someone who has all the facts including a complete picture of your current financial accounts.
  • Permission to volunteer. You may want to look at the numbers to see if you can rearrange your work schedule or plan your retirement to give significant time to charitable organizations. I know people who have donated thousands of hours to organizations like Habitat for Humanity with phenomenal personal rewards as well as extraordinary impact to the people the organization worked to help. As you create or update your financial plan, a conversation about the work you would like to be doing may lead to a much bigger opportunity for involvement with a good cause.

Revisit and revise.

Once you’ve got your plan down, make a time to revisit and revise your plan. It may be useful to put it in writing that this is a one, three, or five-year plan and give yourself a prompt to look again. As with all things, if your plan is working, you will likely have the option to do even more down the line. If you haven’t revisited a plan lately, you may find the vision needs to be changed so it is more relevant to your current life.

Communicate for a multiplier effect.

Sharing your charitable vision can have power and value, not only for you by creating this vision, but also for the person you share with. For you, there is a level of accountability that is created when you let someone else know what you plan to do. For the person you share with, they may be inspired to create a charitable vision of their own. This multiplier effect becomes even more powerful in families where the intent and ideas of your gift can spark opportunities for both healthy attitudes toward gratitude and generosity as well as great financial lessons.

In next month’s charitable giving blog, I’ll explain how charitable giving can reduce your tax bill.

Melissa Joy, CFP®is Partner and Director of Investments at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. In 2013, Melissa was honored by Financial Advisor magazine in the Research All Star List for the third consecutive year. In addition to her contributions to Money Centered blogs, she writes investment updates at The Center and is regularly quoted in national media publications including The Chicago Tribune, Investment News, and Morningstar Advisor.


Financial Advisor magazine's inaugural Research All Star List is based on job function of the person evaluated, fund selections and evaluation process used, study of rejected fund examples, and evaluation of challenges faced in the job and actions taken to overcome those challenges. Evaluations are independently conducted by Financial Advisor Magazine.

Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of Raymond James. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. C14-012645