Your charitable spring cleaning checklist
Set yourself up to reach your charitable goals and give with the greatest impact by updating your Giving Account and organizing your giving.
Spring cleaning is upon us, but it shouldn’t be limited to decluttering your office or preparing for taxes. Now is also the perfect time to update your Giving Account and organize your giving with the following checklist—ultimately making your giving more satisfying and effective.
1. Are your Giving Account details updated?
Start by verifying your contact details. Did you move, get a new phone number or change your email address? Make sure we have contact information for your spouse or other family members with advisory privileges as well. Without accurate and updated contact information, we may not be able to reach you to communicate the status of a grant or contribution or to provide information that may help with giving.
2. Does your Giving Account have a successor?
If something happens to you, what will happen to your Giving Account? Naming a successor is one of the simplest ways to continue your charitable legacy. In your absence, the successor(s)—often one or more family members or other close individuals—becomes the new Account Holder and is able to make donations and recommend investments and grants. In addition to naming one or more loved ones as a successor, you’re also able to designate one or more charities to receive the proceeds of your Giving Account, either as a lump sum or over time through our Endowed Giving Program.
3. Have you reviewed the investment options for your Giving Account?
Much like you do an annual financial checkup for your investment accounts, it’s important to check on the investment pools in which your contributions to Fidelity Charitable are invested and consult with your financial advisor. Does the investment strategy still seem right for you based on your philanthropic goals and risk tolerance, and the assets in your Giving Account? There are currently 20 investment pool options for donor-advised fund assets, including an impact investing pool, as well as pools managed by both Fidelity and other investment managers.
4. What’s your charitable mission statement—and does your giving line up?
Developing a charitable mission statement is meant to help decide where to focus your time and financial support in order to allow you to have a greater impact with your giving. To create your mission, start by taking time to reflect on your values, interests, and motivations, and then write down a few sentences about what you want to accomplish with your giving. And if you already have a mission statement, now is a great time to look back at the last year using the “Grant History” feature to make sure it lines up with your goals. Is there anything you would change? You can see your Giving Account’s complete grant history and sort it by year, charitable organization, charitable sector and region.
5. Have you considered setting up recurring grant recommendations?
Nearly a quarter of all grant recommendations are recurring, according to our 2016 Giving Report. Many of our donors are committed supporters of the organizations they care about and are confident that they will continue their support. As a result, they opt to schedule a recurring grant recommendation for the future, making that support easy and ongoing. If you choose this strategy, consider letting the charity know. They’ll appreciate knowing your intention and can build it into their planning.
6. Did you create a formal giving budget for last year?
If not, why not set one and decide how to allocate it? That will help you to make sure you’re giving the most for the causes you care about, rather than simply responding to requests that come up along the way. In addition, some donors set aside a certain amount to respond to unanticipated needs, such as the requests of friends or a natural disaster. We recommend about 20 to 30 percent of your budget to allow the bulk of your budget to really make an impact on the causes you care most about.
7. Could contributing assets, like stock or mutual fund shares, mean you would have more funds available for giving?
Donating assets like appreciated stock instead of cash could mean both potentially greater tax savings and more money to charity. In fact, our Giving Report shows nearly two-thirds of contributions to Fidelity Charitable in 2015 were non-cash assets, such as publicly traded stock. Ask your advisor if this strategy may make sense for you. Market gains may make this a particularly attractive option this year.
8. Is there something more you want to do with your philanthropy this year?
Looking to commit to a larger gift for a campaign? Or maybe get more familiar with an issue and the charities that work in that space? Set a goal, identify three steps you can take and document it somewhere. Our action plan worksheet can help.
Find more tips and advice on smarter giving—from drafting a charitable mission statement to engaging others in your giving.