Strategic philanthropy: Add deeper meaning to your giving

Giving provides deep personal satisfaction, helps to make the world a better place, shows gratitude for the communities that shaped us, and shares our values with our families for generations.

But our fulfillment in giving isn’t always as simple as writing a check. When we give, we want to ensure our efforts are meaningful.

The U.S. Bank Center for Family Philanthropy offers a way for clients to develop a giving plan by evaluating their donating experiences, and having meaningful conversations with specialists who can make philanthropic planning and strategy recommendations.

The Center’s specialists can help clients craft purposeful charitable giving plans, along with:

  • Charitable strategy advice
  • Private foundation creation
  • Private foundation rules management
  • Grantmaking and governance advice
  • Succession planning

“These plans strive to help clients do three things,” says Daniel P. Harris, senior vice president and national director of Philanthropic Services at U.S. Bank. “Align their values with their giving, offer meaningful experiences through their giving, and offer lasting impact for their families and communities — whether you define community as your immediate neighborhood or the globe.”

Integrating giving into the plan

While many people donate generously, they don’t always look at the larger picture. The Center can help clients assess their giving in the context of their overall wealth planning.

“People often don’t think of philanthropy as part of wealth planning, but giving is an integral segment of a family’s overall financial strategy,” Harris says. If an individual is considering giving a large irrevocable gift, for example, they should discuss it in the context of their overall wealth plan.

Donors often have questions about the tax implications of their philanthropy, or wonder if charitable giving can be incorporated into other big financial events to help lessen the tax burden. In the case of liquidity events, such as selling a business or cashing out of equities, Harris’s team can offer guidance on how to incorporate strategic and efficient giving.

Giving is about doing good in the world. But it’s also important to feel good about the impact you’re having. That starts with making sure you’re giving efficiently and meaningfully.

Fostering conversations about giving

For Harris and his team, meaningful giving starts by having a deep conversation with the families they advise. “We want to help clients see their giving in a new or different light,” he says.

Center specialists begin by asking clients which of their charitable gifts over the past few years are most memorable. This helps clients define the values and goals that drive their philanthropy.

“Often, we hear from clients that they give to a lot of good causes,” Harris says. “But the question is, could they feel better about their giving if they gave in a more focused way? The answer is almost always yes.”

Specialists help clients examine their giving history, then discuss ways to better align their giving with their stated values — in other words, create a giving strategy.

Determining your strategy

The Center recognizes that every individual and family has unique philanthropic values and goals. There are a few options to consider:

1. Donor-advised funds

These simple funds are the fastest-growing philanthropic strategy, but not all are created equal. And how one is structured depends on a family’s philanthropic goals and their approach to giving with options to give both locally and globally.

2. Private foundations

Private foundations offer a great deal of control, making them an increasingly popular strategy for high net worth families. U.S. Bank, working with a client’s tax and legal advisors, can help a family establish and manage a foundation.

3. Grant administration

As a family foundation grows, clients often want to have someone help with the administration. The Center can handle behind-the-scenes work:

  • help clients set up their foundation website
  • write grant guidelines
  • review grant applications
  • communicate with grant applicants

4. Charitable trusts and estate plan gifts

The Center can work with a client’s legal advisors to set up and administer charitable trusts. Clients can also consider making a bequest to a charity through their estate plan, ensuring their philanthropic goals are carried out even after they’re gone.

5. Impact investing

Clients may also want to support certain causes they care about beyond just donating funds. Many do this through impact investing, which involves investing for both financial gains and for social good.

6. Passing on values

For many of the families that Harris advises, grandchildren grow up in a different lifestyle than their parents or grandparents, who couldn’t afford the same luxuries in their youth that they now provide younger generations. Philanthropy is a wonderful activity to help transfer their values to the next generation.

Passing it down to the next generation

For example, a close-knit family from Minnesota had been working with U.S. Bank for two prior generations and decided the time was right to initiate a conversation about philanthropy with the third generation.

As their three children prepared to start college, careers, and family, the parents wanted to talk with them about the responsibility that comes with wealth and how to make the world around them better. The parents were mindful it would not be productive simply to lecture their children. That’s where the Center came in.

Serving as a bridge, the Center for Family Philanthropy allowed the family to have a series of talks in an atmosphere that contributed to a positive learning experience for the children. Specialists helped the family establish guidelines for communicating effectively, examine the organizations and initiatives to which they had been donating and identify common themes in their giving.

The children learned about their grandparents’ history of giving, and the entire family had a common language to describe charitable goals. Based on a mutual understanding of their values, the family members agreed on a philanthropic plan for their future.

Making giving meaningful and enjoyable

Ultimately, giving is about doing good in the world. But it’s also important to feel good about the impact you’re having. That starts with making sure you’re giving efficiently and meaningfully.

Talk with a wealth management professional from U.S. Bank and U.S. Bancorp Investments to learn more about the Center for Family Philanthropy and how our experts can help you make the most of your giving.

Article Disclosure

U.S. Bank and its representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. Your tax and financial situation is unique. You should consult your tax and/or legal advisor for advice and information concerning your particular situation.