Did you know there is an art to charitable giving? Sure, you may understand how much you can afford to donate, the tax impact involved, and you may even have a donor-advised fund, family foundation or trust through which to accomplish your preferred level of giving.

But in order to be a truly effective philanthropist, the above knowledge alone isn’t enough. Careful planning to optimize the power of your gifts is required to make them transformational (rather than jut transactional) for both the donor and the community benefiting from them.

When it comes to building your wealth via investments, you likely rely on in-depth analysis, expertise from professionals, and frequent adjustments to various strategies. Doesn’t it make sense, then, to use the same tools when it comes to creating a philanthropy plan? Following a few ways to be more intentional and strategic about your future giving:

1. Do your own research

There is a wealth of information out there, from online guides, books on philanthropic strategies, seminars and workshops that offer tips, advice and education on how to make the best use out of your charitable monetary resources. You should also check out Community Foundations –there are more than 750 across the United States and 1,800 worldwide—that often provide planning services to local philanthropists.

2. Consult a philanthropic consultant

Today, there are many experienced philanthropic advisors that can be found in cities across the country. Perhaps the financial professional you already consult has a specialty in this area, or if not, he or she may be able to recommend an individual that does. If you’re searching online for a professional with the necessary experience and expertise, use the terms “philanthropic strategist” or “philanthropic adviser.”

3. Ask yourself (or an advisor) the following questions about why you wish to share your assets with others:

–How can I closely tie the investment of my charitable assets with family members, or an organizational mission and values?

–How do I evaluate my charitable efforts to know if they’re successful?

–How do I effectively involve new generations of my family to help achieve the same goals that are important to me in the present and future?

–Which tools, techniques and strategies are likely to be the most effective in helping me reach my philanthropy goals?

–What do I wish to accomplish—for myself, my family, my business and my community—by being charitable?

The bottom line: If you have a passion for philanthropy, your heart is in the right place. You’re willing to put your money toward causes that are important to you in order to enact change, and even save lives. Without proper planning, however, even the best philanthropic efforts can be much less effective. If you’re dedicated to helping charitable causes, make a point to do your homework and put your best efforts into making a strategic plan and establishing a successful giving pattern in your family for generations to come.

Ron L. Brown, CFP®

Author Ron L. Brown, CFP®

Ron is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and president of R.L. Brown Wealth Management. He specializes in retirement, estate, and business planning for professionals and entrepreneurs. Ron assists his clients with creating a financial plan to ensure they are able to live their ideal lifestyle during retirement and leave a strong legacy for their family. Ron has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, US News, Yahoo Finance, Investopedia, and numerous other high profile financial publications.

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