NONPROFIT: Philanthropy at Year-End: Giving the Gift of Giving

Column by David Miller


The fourth quarter of the year usually includes calculating and making your final charitable gifts as well as buying and delivering your holiday gifts and greetings. This year, consider increasing your philanthropy as the way to bring these two together and mix business and pleasure.

Here are just a few ways to consider combining charitable giving and honoring your friends:

• Make gifts to charity to honor friends and family in lieu of traditional holiday gifts. When you support a charity addressing an issue of interest to your honoree, you are paying tribute to her or him in a very important way. Benefiting organizations typically provide an attractive announcement of the "gift in honor" to announce your generosity.

• Offer children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews the chance to take part in the family's giving decisions. You might even want to give each young person a charitable allowance, so that he or she will experience first-hand how good it feels to help others.

• Open a donor-advised fund for the next generation. Some families have created donor-advised funds for their children to use in learning philanthropic investing, while others open a fund to give the members of the family a chance to stay connected and work together while supporting the community. One example is the Long Grandchildren Fund at The Denver Foundation. Wills and Pat Long created the fund from which their grandchildren recommend grants. They have thirteen grandchildren who have participated so far, each joining the "giving group" when they reach the age of 12.

• Take on a philanthropic project as a family. This takes more time but also yields bigger dividends in terms of interaction and education. To get started, talk among your family about the differences you'd like to make in the community, and select an organization addressing a cause important to all of you. Then, working with the chosen charity, combine giving, volunteering, and advocacy to support the cause.

There are lots of options for a philanthropic project. For example, you might choose to "adopt" a local library, then provide a financial grant to support a specific library program. Next, conduct a neighborhood drive to collect books, periodicals, music, and film recordings for the collection. Follow that by volunteering for story hour, the library fundraiser, or even re-stacking the shelves. Finally, tell others about your commitment to the library and reading, via your Facebook page, your Twitter account, your family website, or your holiday letter.

If you'd like other advice about how to combine charitable giving and gift-giving to family and friends, please contact the Philanthropic Services Group at The Denver Foundation, We'll gladly listen to your ideas and help you create a path that simplifies your year-end tasks and makes our community a better place for everyone.


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