This article originally ran in the Rockford Register Star on November 28, 2015
This is the time of the year when we think more about our families, holiday gatherings and how fortunate we are to live in America. For many people, it is a time to help out people who may be less fortunate.
As our own financial circumstances improve, we tend to recognize when others are in need, and we will, many times, dig deeper into our pockets to help. We help others because we were helped at one time ourselves, or because we want to give back to our community and the people that live here, or we want to help others because it makes us feel good. Regardless of the reason, charitable giving or helping of others in need is something that we do as Americans.
When you give, are you interested in the proverbial “give a man a fish” mentality to alleviate a short-term need, such as food or clothing shortages, or would you prefer to “teach a man to fish,” a long-term goal that might involve an investment in the arts and children’s education or a “Forever Grateful” gift?
A “Forever Grateful” gift may be a term that you haven’t heard of before, but ask yourself, is there an organization that recently helped a sick relative, friend or pet for which you are forever grateful? Have you ever thought about giving that organization a large amount of money so that they could continue helping others?
This is a “Forever Grateful” gift: If you have had a personal experience where your heart strings were tugged and you desire to make a difference while on this earth, this may be the perfect option. Whatever your desire, charitable giving by individuals to organizations is the driving financial force behind the vast majority of charities that exist today.
Reflecting on your own life, ask yourself: what do I want to teach my children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren about giving or helping out others? If your answer is that you want to have a positive impact and teaching moment for future generations, what better way is there than to establish your own charitable plan?
For many donors, charitable giving is a private affair fueled by personal passions. However, giving can be even more rewarding — and effective — when you connect with a broader community of donors who share your interests. What if you coordinated your donations with other donors of like mind to create an even greater impact for your chosen charity? By implementing your plan while you are alive, you would see and experience the results first hand, you could positively influence whom your children and grandchildren give to in the future, while verifying that your chosen charities are using your proceeds in a prudent fashion.
If this is an idea that you have been thinking about, but have not yet started, begin a new tradition of gifting for you and your family this year. Find an organization or group that you feel passionate about helping and start now. There will never be a better time.
— Steven Schou, CFP, is chairman and CEO of Klaas Financial Inc.