Make Your Giving Impactful

Tips to more effectively support the charitable causes that are important to you.

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Podcast Transcript
Host: Rob Miles, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Private Bank

Guest: Chris Spaugh, Regional Fiduciary Manager, Wells Fargo Philanthropic Services


Hello, I'm Rob Miles, Senior Vice President for Wells Fargo Private Bank, and this is "Your Financial Journey" — a podcast series that explores common financial issues that we all face. I am joined today by Chris Spaugh, Regional Fiduciary Manager for Wells Fargo Philanthropic Services, to discuss how you may be more impactful with your giving. Welcome, Chris, and thanks for joining us today.


Thanks for having me, Rob.


So, Chris, let's get right to it. We all have our favorite charities that we support and many of us find ourselves responding to donation requests throughout the year and particularly around the holidays. But is that really the most effective way folks should be giving away their money?


I get that question a lot. While your charitable donations may be put to good use to worthy causes, like disaster relief, such an approach may not be the most effective way to meet your philanthropic goals over the long term. As you mentioned, it's easy to respond to an emotional appeal, especially over the holidays, and just write a check in response. But often times, you may be giving to charities or causes you know very little about. Instead, I suggest taking a more proactive approach and developing a thoughtful giving plan. This can help you focus on making a bigger impact with the causes that are most important to you.


So, Chris, that's something I can relate to and I'm sure many listeners can, as well, in that we sometimes tend to be more reactive, and not proactive, in the way we give. So what are some steps to developing what you referred to as a giving plan? 


Well, you can simply start by just thinking about which causes are most important to you. If you had to pick one or two, would they include education, health care, or the environment, for example? Document your thoughts on paper then compare what you've written to the donations you've actually made. This comparison helps to identify whether or not you need to make changes in your charitable giving strategy and helps you focus really on the causes that you care about. 


So [that's] a good suggestion there — to get your charities on paper and how you're giving. What about tax planning and other considerations that people should be thinking about with regard to their charitable giving? 


That's a great question, Rob. While it's important to be impactful with your giving, the way in which you donate to causes that are important to you should also make sense from your financial situation or a tax-planning perspective. Most people take the "checkbook philanthropy" approach, but you may want to consider philanthropic vehicles that can offer the tax benefits and meet your charitable goals at the same time. 


Chris, I'm sure this ad-hoc approach again is resonating with many people listening, so why don't you go into a little more detail. Can you talk about the types of vehicles that you're talking about?


Well, there are various options to choose from, such as a charitable remainder trust, private foundations, or perhaps even a donor advised fund. Donor advised funds have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their flexibility in taking tax deductions in the year they're established. The important thing is to determine a strategy that's appropriate for your financial situation and [that] it meets your needs. 


So again, I think listeners today, Chris, are thinking, you know, charitable giving strategy combined with effective tax planning is a good pair. How would one get started on this approach to both their charitable and tax planning? 


The first thing you should do is discuss the right approach with your financial advisor, tax advisor, and a planning specialist. For those listeners who are thinking about how they can make a really significant impact, we have philanthropic specialists who can help families develop a giving mission and then outline how they can start taking action. They can help with coordinating outright gifts or the appropriate approach that may involve comparing more structured options, like the ones I mentioned earlier. It's worth remembering, however, that while there are a lot of options, they don't all require a lot of time or money to implement.


So, Chris, thanks for sharing your perspective. I know I, for one, should take a look at my own charitable donations and how I can contribute in a more impactful way. And I would encourage all our listeners to create the list that Chris recommended as a start to a more meaningful giving strategy for the charities they support and for their families.

Please join me next time when we discuss protecting your assets against inflation. 

This is "Your Financial Journey."

What can Wells Fargo do for you?

You’re passionate about supporting worthy causes and nonprofit organizations, and Wells Fargo Conversations discusses how you can make the most of your opportunities for giving.

Wells Fargo Philanthropic Services is part of Wells Fargo Wealth Management providing financial products and services through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., and its various affiliates and subsidiaries.

Wells Fargo Private Bank and Wells Fargo Wealth Management provide products and services through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., and its various affiliates and subsidiaries. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., is a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

Deposit and loan products are offered by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

This information is provided for education and illustration purposes only.

Wells Fargo and Company and its affiliates do not provide legal advice. Wells Fargo Advisors does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal and tax advisors to determine how this information may apply to your own situation. Whether any planned tax result is realized by you depends on the specific facts of your own situation at the time your taxes are prepared. 


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