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Turning Good into Greater Good


By Nina Needleman


Giving back to the community can take many forms. As an SOS member you already invest in the community by engaging in collective giving. There are other ways to participate that may not be as obvious.

Some of those ways involve designating community organizations as the beneficiary of the financial instruments you already have set up. Maybe you would like to consider these ways to donate as well:

      • IRA – you can have multiple beneficiaries, including loved ones and favorite charities. If you have multiple IRAs – say regular, Roth IRA, Simple IRA, you could consider dividing beneficiaries between them.
      • 401K/403B retirement plans – you can designate multiple beneficiaries.
      • Defined Benefit or Defined Contribution Plans – you can have multiple beneficiaries.
      • Life Insurance – you can have more than one beneficiary here as well. This applies to all types of life insurance.
      • ESOP (Employee Stock Options) or Deferred Compensation – you can usually have charity beneficiaries. It may take a few steps, but is possible with many employers.
      • Systematic Donations – monthly donations to nonprofits provide more stability and sustainability for their budgets. Not always promoted but frequently available if you ask.
      • Bequests – in your will, you can designate charities in different ways:
          • By dollar amount
          • By percent of your estate (recommended)
          • You can gift the balance or residue of your estate.

Thinking in advance about making charitable contributions over time is a valuable part of personal financial planning.  One strategy is something called intermediate charitable giving.

An intermediate gift is a one-time gift of a meaningful amount of money, i.e. $5000-$25,000.  That much money can be game changing for some non-profits. Here are some examples of what that size gift could do for a non profit.

      • Physical or capital equipment or facility resources – such as a used bus or van to transport kids, replace worn equipment or computers, possible facility repair (leaky roof, plumbing or electrical repairs).
      • Capacity building for staff – classes on grant writing, board building, event planning, metrics & evaluation skills etc.
      • Capacity building for boards – facilitator for an annual board retreat, consultant to start a strategic plan, marketing plan assistance, website  upgrade and more.

Many non-profits aren’t so good at asking, articulating, or posting needs like this on their website or elsewhere.  Ask them what they need!  You can be a rock star in their world and really make a difference.

Define something you think is important and give designated gifts just for that.


      • You can designate a gift of any size for just transportation expense.
      • One SOS member gives primarily for capacity building – she funds staff development for nonprofit Executives, Boards, Development staff, Program staff, etc. (since many small to medium nonprofits are unable to budget to develop, train or build their staff skills to the next level).
      • Another SOS member focuses on funding strategic plans for small nonprofits.
      • Some donors value the arts, music, and dance for underserved kids. They direct funds just for that purpose. (underserved school districts routinely cut art, music, dance when their budgets are tight.)
      • Some donors value job training.
      • Some donors value helping people out of poverty.
      • Some donors value mental health.
      • Some donors recognize the inherent inequities in our society and want to support people of color and help provide more opportunities for those who have suffered headwinds in their lives.
      • Some donors want to address and reduce discrimination – against LGBTQ people, persons with disabilities, and Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC).
      • Some donors want to address domestic violence.
      • Some donors want to give a hand up to people getting out of prison.
      • Some donors want to address problems of homelessness.
      • Some want to address food insecurity.

There are great needs in our communities and the organizations trying to address these needs require support. With some reflection and advanced planning, you can craft a personal philanthropic plan that gives now, over time and/or into the future. And with a plan you can support the specific needs within organizations that you believe are most valuable to help them be sustainable and effective in their missions.

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