What JJ Watt Teaches us About Philanthropy

What JJ Watt Teaches us About Philanthropy

As football season is fully underway, many of us get swept up in the weekly excitement of watching our favorite teams take on their rivals. Maybe you’re closely watching the ups and downs of your Fantasy Football team and strategizing about who to start each week and what the most beneficial trades may be. It’s an exciting time of year for many fans. Let’s take this opportunity to highlight the work one football player is doing off the field. (more…)

Start Small, Dream Big

Start Small, Dream Big

In 2006, during the first football game played in New Orleans’ Superdome since Hurricane Katrina tore through the city the previous year, Steve Gleason, a safety for the Saints, blocked a punt against the Atlanta Falcons. The blocked punt resulted in a Saints touchdown and marked the beginning of the winningest season for the Saints up to that point. More than that, though, the blocked punt turned into a symbol for the resiliency of New Orleans. Looking at challenges Gleason has faced in his own life, it’s easy to view the blocked punt as a symbol of his own resiliency as well. (more…)

How to Give to Your Favorite Causes AND Reduce Your Tax Bill for 2018

How to Give to Your Favorite Causes AND Reduce Your Tax Bill for 2018


We often give to charities on the spur of the moment during fundraising drives or at an event like a gala, rather than having a charitable giving plan. Giving by check (otherwise called checkbook philanthropy) is generally the default for these spur of the moment donations. With the doubling of the standard deduction from the recent tax reform, the tax benefit of such gifts has been reduced or eliminated as most households won’t have enough deductions to itemize.

By having a plan, we can work to reduce your tax bill, while still giving to your favorite causes. (more…)

Things to Remember Around Tax Time if You’ve Made a Qualified Charitable Distribution

Form 1099-R is issued around tax time to report distributions you took during the previous year from a retirement account. Among other things, this form tells you and the IRS how much was withdrawn in total, how much of the distribution was taxable and whether there was any withholding for federal and state income taxes.

For those who gave part or all of their required minimum distribution directly to charity through making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD), this amount is still included in the taxable portion of your total distribution on form 1099-R. As you’ll see, the QCD is included in your gross distribution (box 1) and taxable amount (box 2a); however, the box for “taxable amount not determined” (box 2b) will be checked. Whether you work with a professional tax preparer, use software like TurboTax or prepare your own taxes by hand, it can be easy to forget that the QCD portion of your distribution should not be included in your taxable income on your tax return. It’s important to keep a record of any QCDs made during the year and hold on to the receipts or letters that you receive from the charities confirming receipt of the funds. (more…)

A More Efficient Way to Give: Donor-Advised Funds

A More Efficient Way to Give: Donor-Advised Funds

Being philanthropic can mean you donate your time, expertise and/or financial resources to support a charitable organization. When donating financial resources, there are ways to give that maximize the benefit of the gift. Did you write a check? If so, where did that cash come from? Did it require you to withdraw from a retirement account, or realize any capital gains to create this cash? If you have a taxable investment account, then using a donor-advised fund is a more efficient way to give.

What is a donor-advised fund? 

A donor-advised fund (DAF) acts like your own mini-charitable foundation. DAFs have been around since the early 20th century, but more recently have become the fastest growing method of giving in the United States. Grants to qualified charities in 2015 alone from donor-advised funds totaled $14.52 billion. You can donate assets to a DAF and receive the tax benefit that year, while having the flexibility to distribute the funds in increments, and over whatever period you’d like. Unlike private foundations, DAFs don’t have legally required annual distributions.

What can be put in a donor-advised fund? 

  • Cash
  • Publicly traded securities including stocks, bonds and mutual fund shares
  • Restricted and controlled stock * Privately held stock
  • Real estate
  • Proceeds from life insurance or from a full-paid policy
  • Private foundation grants or terminations
  • Bequests
  • Named beneficiary of charitable remainder trust
  • Named beneficiary of an IRA, 401(k) or other retirement account
  • Tangible personal property

Most commonly, families donate appreciated securities such as stocks and mutual fund shares from a taxable investment account to a DAF.  (more…)

Determining the Best Charitable Vehicle for Your Goals

We’ve been working with clients across the country for over 30 years, and we understand how important it can be to share your success by donating to charitable organizations, whether it’s through volunteering time or giving money. Once this charitable intent is determined, the next step is to determine how best to give. The following steps can help you identify the most efficient way to give, according to your circumstances.

Step 1 – Identify a cause that’s important to you

From supporting education and providing funds for cancer research, to protecting the environment and ensuring human rights for all, the list of worthy causes is endless. What’s important to remember when being philanthropic during your lifetime is that you have complete control over who receives your money or time.

Step 2 – Decide if you want to volunteer your time, money, or both

Being philanthropic doesn’t always mean writing a check. Many people give their time or expertise to organizations. This includes volunteering at events, raising money, participating on the board of directors, committees, etc. Some volunteer and also give money to organizations that are important to them. For many, they may not have the time or ability to volunteer due to a number of circumstances, however they choose to share their financial resources instead.

Step 3 – What are your funding sources?

If you decide to give part of your wealth, then the next step is determining how best to fund your gift. Do you have cash? Taxable investment accounts with securities (stocks or bonds) that have appreciated in value? Do you have a retirement account? Do you have a life insurance policy?

Step 4 – Is this a one-time or recurring gift, and do you want to make it during your lifetime or from your estate?

These are important considerations, as they impact the method you use to make your donation. For some of the methods listed in step 5, you can make a one-time, planned gift that can be distributed over many years to one or many charitable organizations. The giving method may be different for a one-time gift or recurring annual gifts to an organization or to charity in general. (more…)