With Thanksgiving just days away, we wanted to take a moment and offer some quick ideas on how to maximize the spirit of generosity that often flourishes during the holiday season.
Disaster Relief - Starting off on a serious note, Typhoon Haiyan left devastation in its path as it rolled through the Philippines. Thousands of lives were lost and entire towns have disappeared. As is often the case when a natural disaster of such proportion strikes, the world rushes in to help. This article by NBC News provides details on a wide range of non-profits delivering aid in the region, their focus, and how to make donations.
Moving away from natural disasters to two charities that are fighting poverty on a global level:
Heifer International - (headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas; who knew), is a non-profit dedicated to changing lives in developing countries. Working in areas of extreme poverty, they provide families with livestock and capital in an effort to promote sustainable living conditions. Simple gifts – a cow, a few chickens, a goat – can change a family’s destiny. Heifer’s website includes an online catalog of animals that you can “buy” for a family in need. A cow costs $500, but a flock of chicks can be had for as little as $20. This can be a fun way to involve children in giving, and honorariums make great gifts for those relatives who challenge your gift-giving skills.
Kiva - is dedicated to fighting world poverty through micro-finance – the process of lending money to entrepreneurs in the developing world. Kiva’s motto is “make a loan, change a life.” Kiva is unique in that they directly connect the lender (you) with the borrower. You can read about the borrower, their plans for the money, and receive updates on the loan as it gets paid back. The average loan is less than $500, and 99% get paid back in full. The best part is that once you’ve been paid back you can re-loan the money to someone else.
Kiva offers gift cards that make great holiday gifts and are a great way to involve your children in philanthropy and offer them a broader perspective on the world.
GoodShop - is an easy to use shopping site that lets you shop at your favorite online stores while allocating a small portion of your spending to the charity or school of your choice. There is a great selection of stores – over 2800 - and the process is easy. Just select your charity, click through to the retailer’s site and shop. GoodShop takes care of the donation. Not every charity participates, but if you have holiday shopping to do online, this is a great way to put your efforts to good work. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Amazon - offers a similar service through Amazon Smile. By logging into Amazon through the Smile portal and specifying the charity of your choice, you can proceed with your Amazon shopping and the charity will receive 0.5% of the value of items purchased.
Donor advised funds - make giving to charity as easy as online banking. Once an account is funded; log in, select the charity, specify the amount, click submit, and you’re finished before your coffee gets cold. Donor advised funds exists in a variety of forms – local community foundations (Memphis has three: Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, Hope Christian Community Foundation, and Jewish Foundation of Memphis), or funds offered through Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Vanguard and others.
The video below does a good job of describing the benefits of using a donor advised fund for family giving.
Donating appreciated securities – with the US stock market reaching new highs the opportunity to donate appreciated securities is once again worth considering. There are significant tax advantages to donating appreciated property instead of cash. Using a donor advised fund as a conduit can provide even more flexibility. If you’d like to know more, please give us a call.
Hoping you and your family have a great Thanksgiving!