On this “Giving Tuesday”, this seems an appropriate question. I told my sister that my suggestion would be to move Giving Tuesday to before Thanksgiving, rather than after Black Friday and Cyber-Monday! By the term “Giving” what we mean is charitable giving, which is a core value for The Advisors Group as a business and for each of us individually. It is wrapped up in the idea that when we are blessed, we have the opportunity and privilege of blessing others, who have much, much less. While we view the purpose of giving as “blessing others”, we also view giving as a responsibility. This responsibility includes research about the charities that we want to support, their outreach and service, and consistency with our values.
In 2012, driven by accountability reviews, we determined that we could do more and multiply our impact by making end-of-year gifts to charities, rather than giving end-of-year goodies to our clients. Some of the clients may not have appreciated that decision, but most of them have a similar commitment to charitable giving. We started by giving a $5,000 “Gift Ark” to a charity called Heifer International. Their focus is on empowering impoverished families to change their lives with gifts of livestock, everything from a cow to honeybees.
Since that first gift in 2012, we gradually increased the amounts and variety of charities that we supported, totaling over $140,000 so far to organizations or missions that targeted:
- Homeless, Hungry, or Destitute: Family Promise, Lubbock Impact, Meals on Wheels, Backyard Mission, Open Door Lubbock, Salvation Army, and Grace Campus here in Lubbock
- Women and Girls: One Voice Home/R2R, Unpacked Ministries, Rescue HER, Greater Good Charities
- Children, Teens and Disabled: High Pointe Village, Buckner’s International/Lubbock services, CASA of the South Plains, Reclaimed 43, Special Olympics Texas, MS Society, 15 and the Mahomies, Youth Trumpet and Taps Corps
- Veterans and First Responders: Honor Flight, Lubbock Homes for Heroes, EMS Honor Guard, Lubbock Police Foundation, Lubbock Professional Firefighters Foundation, God’s Garage, Folds of Honor, TADSAW (Train a Dog, Save a Warrior), Veteran Women’s Enterprise Center (located in DFW).
- Animals: 4 Legged Friends, South Plains SPCA, Saving Grace Pitbull Rescue, Easy R Equine Rescue
- Scholarships and Education: AAUW Mother-Daughter Program, 100 Black Men of West Texas, El Robi of Lubbock (East Lubbock Resident Owned Business Initiative), and various local athletic teams.
While there is great variety in the gift recipients, you can tell that there are fairly consistent themes among them, and a number of these charities have received multi-year gifts. We feel a responsibility to identify charities that are current with their IRS filings as not-for-profit organizations, that emphasize the end results and recipients over-inflated staff salaries, and meet the standards for what we consider “good stewards”. We typically prefer the smaller, local charities that we know can have a large impact with relatively small gifts of $1000 to $5000, rather than charities with multi-million-dollar budgets for whom our gifts would have little impact.
Perhaps because of our personal and business preference to give to charity, we tend to encourage our clients to also consider gifting. We have written about this in a number of our previous blog posts, as we consider it to be an effective planning tool, for estates and particularly for helping build tax efficiencies. You can read about some of the options we have previously talked about here: Because You Asked: What Is The Most Efficient Way to Give to Charity? (Part 1);
So back to the original question of “Should I Give?”. Take a look at what you have received, whether through your own labor, investments, or gifts given to you. Think about those for whom it could have a life-changing impact, and what the charitable options are that speak to you and your values, and then do the research on those charities. Contact them to find out how your gifts would or could be used. Work with your advisors to determine how to give so that you and the recipients gain the most benefit from your gifts. All of this is what we consider your due diligence. This is our privilege and our responsibility. And if you want to get Biblical: “To whom much is given, much is required.”