Better Living Through Giving

Part 1- Why this Blog Series?

Many years back, as a young adult, my father and I were watching an NFL football game.  During the halftime break, a segment aired about Gene Stallings, who was, at the time, head coach of the (then) St. Louis Cardinals (I’m dating myself; I know).  The focus of the segment was coach Stallings’ life away from the stadium, specifically how he gave of himself, especially his time, “investing” in the lives of others.  At the conclusion, I vividly remember him saying, “The only things you can take with you are those that you give away.”  His words affected me profoundly. 

Over the years, I’ve heard Stallings’ proverbial sentiment repeated in my head hundreds of times, and I often share it with clients and others.  I have also been privileged to see the principle lived out by many people who gave/give freely of their time and resources to others.  On countless occasions, I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of such generosity. 

In order to help shape lives—both near and afar—helping make the world a better place in the process, we must give of our time as well as our resources.  Those of us who desire to thus “pay it forward,” building and leaving a legacy, face many questions. 

Regarding time:

  • To whom and how should we give our time?  
  • What causes stir our hearts? 
  • What professional and vocational skills, passions and interests, do each of us have that we can utilize in giving back? 

As for giving of our resources:

  • How can we build giving into our financial plans, while still ensuring that our own individual and family needs are met? 
  • How can tax implications impact our giving strategies (and maximize the impact of our gifts)?
  • What should we give?
    • Cash;
    • Securities;
    • Privately held business interests;
    • Real assets;
    • All the above? 
  • When should we give?
    • Current gifts from income and assets?
    • Testamentary gifts (at death) via our will or trust?

This is the first installment of an ongoing blog series on smart charitable giving, titled, “Better Living Through Giving.”  In it, I will attempt to address the questions posed above, as well as others.  We’ll explore the features and benefits of various charitable giving strategies and vehicles, including:

  • Donating appreciated assets;
  • Making Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) from IRAs;
  • Setting up Donor Advised Funds (DAFs);
  • The use of Charitable Remainder/Charitable Lead Trusts;
  • And more. 

I hope you’ll join me as we explore meaningful and practical ways to have a positive impact on others and the world—by sharing our time, skills and knowledge, as well as our means.

I’ll conclude this introduction with a quote by one of my historical heroes, Winston Churchill – “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”   

Viridian is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) with clients across the United States. Viridian offers financial planning, investment management, and tax services (through its sister company, Viridian Tax and Accounting). Doug Custer is a Financial Advisor & Shareholder at Viridian.

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