Give Generously

by Kathryn Hungerford

As baby boomers enter new life stages, many are becoming philanthropists. In fact, by the year 2055, some $41 trillion will change hands as Americans pass on their accumulated assets to the next generation.

One of my favorite philanthropists shares this story that has stayed with me over the years. In her family, it was a tradition to help others, particularly after snowstorms.She recalls the whole family piling into their fourwheel-drive vehicle and setting off with the sole purpose of looking for people stuck in ditches. The family would hitch up and pull others out of the deep snow, expecting nothing in return. Then they would call out cheery greetings, smiling and waving as they headed off in search of the next stranded neighbor.

She recalls feelings of deep joy, just to have been able to help others in their time of need. That was
a lesson she learned well at an early age, and she continues to positively impact the lives of others
through her family business and small foundation.

Although most of us don’t consider ourselves to be philanthropists, many of us fit the definition.

Originating from the Greek “philo,” which means “love of,” and “anthropo,” which means “mankind,”
at its core philanthropy simply means love of mankind.

It is the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed by the generous donation of money
and time to good causes. Synonyms include benevolence, generosity, humanitarianism, altruism,
charitableness, brotherly love, unselfishness, kindheartedness and compassion.

There are many ways to care for others less fortunate in our community this holiday season and
throughout the year.

Volunteers often give of themselves in ways that are meaningful to both the giver and the beneficiary.
Parents can model the spirit of giving by involving their children in shoveling an older neighbor’s walk or baking treats to share at homeless shelters.

Other opportunities range from bagging bulk food at the local food bank to serving as a foster grandparent in our schools. Watching the Missoulian for needed items, such as used computers, furniture or jewelry, can provide a chance to donate and make a big difference in someone else’s life.

It is natural to move toward a desire to give in increasingly impactful ways. But how many of us
own a business or are knowledgeable about ways that we can become major donors?

Interestingly, last year in America 72 percent of charitable giving came from individuals (not
businesses or foundations), and most donor households earned less than $60,000 annually.

One simple method is to pledge a relatively small monthly donation that can add up to a major gift
over time. For example, committing to a gift of $42 per month for two years, in order to give a gift of
over $1,000, would qualify as a major gift at most local charities. Monthly gifts also provide desirable sustainability for the donor’s favorite charity and can be accomplished online with a credit card.

For those who live on fixed incomes, or have little left at the end of the month, naming a favorite
nonprofit organization in one’s will is a way to give a significant contribution that costs nothing in the donor’s lifetime.

This is what one donor named Mary did, by adding specific language in her will that was suggested by the development officer at her favorite charity. Mary’s will said a lot about her and she was named in the organization’s Legacy Society for many years.

For others, the Montana Tax Credit for Charitable Endowment gifts can be of benefit. Through this
unique tax credit incentive, a Montana taxpayer receives a reduction on the taxes owed – up to
$10,000 per year – by making a qualified charitable contribution to a qualified endowment.

Other planned giving options include life insurance policies, a wide variety of annuities, stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

The main key is to decide what is meaningful to you and your family, and then sit down with a development professional to see what is possible.

As always, donors are advised to consult with their financial and legal advisers prior to making
philanthropic contributions.

Kathryn Hungerford, a recognized Certified Fund Raising Executive through CFRE International, is development officer at Missoula Aging Services.

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