Charitable Giving for a Modern World

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If Money Were Easy

Hosted by Mary Beth Storjohann and Neela Hummel

Charitable Giving for a Modern World

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If Money Were Easy
Charitable Giving for a Modern World

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Episode Summary

Generosity isn’t just about the dollars—it’s the intention, impact, and legacy we build. In this episode, we’re exploring what’s at the heart of charitable giving. Mary Beth and Neela discuss the transformative power of donor-advised funds, and share their personal journeys of turning philanthropy into a family affair. They also untangle how to choose causes that align with values while making sure your financial house is in order first. No matter where you’re starting, there’s a path for you to make a difference. Listen in to hear about some of the ways you can expand what’s possible with your charitable giving and philanthropy. 

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • Different ways to give besides just donating money to charities
  • Considerations to explore when determining the causes and charities you want to participate in
  • A financial planner’s perspective when it comes to giving
  • Mary Beth and Neela discuss how they each handle charitable giving in their families
  • Questions to ask yourself when thinking about the impact you want to have through charitable giving
  • Other ways to contribute besides financially
  • The importance of putting on your own oxygen mask first
  • How to measure the impact you have within a charitable organization
  • How to tailor your charitable giving based on your life stage
  • Incorporating charitable giving into your estate plan
  • The positive impacts generosity has on mental, emotional and physical health
  • How to vet an organization
  • Tips for selecting a charity and other ways to allocate funds to charities

Resources Mentioned on the Show:

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Transcript of the Episode

Mary Beth [00:00:14]:

Hey there. Welcome to the If Money Were Easy podcast, the show where we teach you how to expand what’s possible with your money. We’re your hosts, Mary Beth Storjohann

Neela [00:00:23]:

and Neela Hummel, 

Mary Beth [00:00:24]:

certified financial planners and co CEOs of Abacus Wealth Partners. Today on the show, we’re talking about charitable giving for a modern world. Hi, Neela. 

Neela [00:00:35]:

Hi, Marybeth. 

Mary Beth [00:00:36]:

How’s it going? 

Neela [00:00:37]:

Good. It’s good to see you and hear you. 

Mary Beth [00:00:39]:

And hear you. And I have a new laptop, everybody. And so my mic, you might not know, cuts out all of the time when we’re recording. So today we are going to give it a try with this new piece of machinery and see how it goes.

Neela [00:00:53]:

It only took Mary Beth, I think, three years to get a new laptop. 

Mary Beth [00:00:55]:

It did, It took me a very long time. 

Neela [00:00:57]:

Yeah. So we’re really proud of her for making that call. Sometimes people who know financial planning, sometimes it’s hard to spend money on some things.

Mary Beth [00:01:05]:

It is. I was trying to follow the protocol every five years at Abacus new laptop. I was just going by the rules. 

Neela [00:01:13]:


Mary Beth [00:01:13]:

Yeah. I mean, just because I’m co CEO doesn’t mean I get special treatment. 

Neela [00:01:16]:

I like it. 

Mary Beth [00:01:17]:

Yeah. So let’s talk philanthropy and charitable giving. This is a big one. I know charitable giving is on the hearts of so many women, so many of our listeners, and it shows up in our lives in a variety of ways in terms of how we give back, what we’re thinking about our values. Tell me a bit about what you’re seeing out there in the landscape and with clients. 

Neela [00:01:35]:

So I think charity and general philanthropy nowadays, like you mentioned, it’s getting a lot more attention and it shows up in a lot of different ways. When you think about traditional charitable giving, you think about just donating money, but it’s also about donating time and finding causes that people are super passionate about instead of just spreading money around to kind of random organizations. So I’m seeing a lot more people asking about it at all different wealth levels, of ways that they can give back to organizations and causes that they care about in myriad of ways. 

Mary Beth [00:02:13]:

So tell me a bit about how this is different from me doing my charitable giving, my philanthropy work, how this could be different or the same from me investing in line with my values. 

Neela [00:02:23]:

Yeah. So call it 30 years ago, if you wanted to invest your money, you had a much more narrow set of options in how that money could be invested. You invested in a bunch of these different companies, and those companies could actually be undercutting the charities that you were trying to actually support. So everybody’s got different causes they really care about.

Mary Beth [00:02:44]:

You’re like, no smoking.

Neela [00:02:45]:

No smoking, right? 

Mary Beth [00:02:47]:

Say no to drugs. 

Neela [00:02:47]:

No smoking. No drugs. And then you find out that you have a portfolio that’s full of Philip Morris and other tobacco companies. You’re like, wait a second. I’m investing in these companies that are contributing to the thing, that I’m actually trying to donate money to help solve a particular issue. And so it was almost like you couldn’t invest in a way that supported the causes that you were caring about. Fast forward to today. That’s no longer the case. 

Neela [00:03:12]:

You can give money and impact organizations and causes that you really care about, and you can invest your money in a way that is in alignment with those. You can listen to some of the other podcasts that we’ve done in terms of shareholder advocacy and values aligned investing. But you can really line the investment choices that you have so that they’re not undercutting the actual philanthropic goals that you have, whatever your cause or causes might be. 

Mary Beth [00:03:38]:

So what are the options to me, outside of investments? Tell me a bit about the charitable giving vehicles that are available to me as an everyday investor, and maybe as my wealth is growing as well. What am I looking at? Am I writing just checks to organizations? Oh, my gosh. Writing checks. I am an elder millennial. Am I using my credit card? Am I Venmoing? Am I Venmoing somebody? Zelle. Right. 

Neela [00:04:00]:

So we would be remiss as financial planners to not talk about doing any gifting in a tax responsible way. And so I’d say the first thing is that you do not need to be ultra-rich in order to give back. And that what we think about with our clients, in the same way that we like to see saving as a habit, charitable giving starting to fold it in, so that it is a habit, even if you’re not giving what would objectively be called a lot of money, I think is super important, especially from a family environment, setting this example for your kids, for those you love, that you are prioritizing this even if you’re not giving a huge sum of money. So we like to see people just getting started, and then as your wealth grows, as your income grows, just like you’re saving, you can dial that up, and you can dial up the impact that you’re having by lumping more money together for certain causes and be able to move the needle in some areas that you might not have been able to do before.

Mary Beth [00:05:02]:

Right. I know one of the things that I’ve talked with clients about and that we do in our house is having a charitable giving statement of areas that we’re looking to impact. Kind of getting clear because it can happen sporadically, especially we have young kids or life is busy. You’re getting hit up left and right for donations, right? Let’s not even talk about the junk mail that comes in. You’re getting hit up left and right for donations. And it’s easy to Venmo, Zelle, use your credit card for these organizations. I’m going to stop saying write checks. No shade to those who write checks. 

Neela [00:05:32]:

Especially with the rising amount of check fraud.

Mary Beth [00:05:34]:

I know. Abacus newsletter for more details there. But almost like you feel like you’re being impactful, but you’re being less impactful in terms of the areas that you value because you haven’t really thought about it right when you’re just writing out those checks and you are… Dang it. I said it already. Look, it took me 30 seconds.

Neela [00:05:47]:

Turn into it. Elder millennials. 

Mary Beth [00:05:48]:

Turn into it. We are just sending out those funds left and right without a cohesive plan or thinking about what are you truly trying to do? What are your values, defining them. And I think it always starts there and getting clear in talking through the areas that you want to create an impact. And so we think about our investments. We have those screens. We’re making sure our money is in line with our value from an investment standpoint. But I don’t know many people, I don’t know if you do this in your house, but it takes almost some prompting to actually think through where you want to create an impact in terms of your charitable giving. 

Neela [00:06:16]:

You bet. Yeah. I love what you’re saying. It’s the idea of putting yourself in the driver’s seat and being proactive about the kind of giving that you’re doing versus being reactive. 

Mary Beth [00:06:25]:


Neela [00:06:26]:

And it’s worth noting, Mary Beth wrote a fabulous blog about how your family has now given over $100,000 away, and it’s happened over time. 

Mary Beth [00:06:35]:


Neela [00:06:35]:

$100,000 is a lot of money to give, but yet that’s always been something that’s been super important to you. So how have you managed to be proactive and really prioritize what matters to your family in your charitable giving strategies? 

Mary Beth [00:06:51]:

It started with a spreadsheet, as all of my best stories do.

Neela [00:06:54]:

As all fairy tales start 

Mary Beth [00:06:56]:

They really do. And it was when Brian and I got married, I started tracking our giving and noticing what we were doing without a plan. I would kind of just tracking it for tax purposes and then came along and started thinking okay, what are the things that are impactful to us? We actually started giving away more money, and I was like, okay, this is a significant amount. As our money, as our incomes grew, I felt inclined to make sure that we’re setting aside a certain amount for ourselves to make sure that we’re giving on an ongoing basis. And that’s above and beyond what we help family or other people with as well. But when we started setting aside intentionally, I opened up a charitable savings account. This was before we had a donor advised fund. When I opened up that account, we set aside money monthly into that account, and that’s when we started thinking more about, okay, what are the organizations we’re trying to create an impact in? What’s available to us, what’s on our hearts. Brian’s stepdad has MS. Since that’s a big part of our lives, one of my best friends also has MS. And so thinking through that was one of the organizations. Veterans also are a big part of our lives as well. Animal rights, woman rights, financial literacy, those ones always come into play in some way. And so knowing those are the areas and then kind of doubling down on, okay, are we always going to partner with the same organization, or do we want to mix it up each year? But getting clear on what are the organizations and causes that we do want to give to, and narrowing it down or widening the scope from here or there, but that’s how that happened. And then as our incomes grew, I always made sure to increase the amounts that we were setting aside. It worked with our financial plan for me to do that because we had surplus funds and are very blessed in that way, but it might not work for everybody.

Neela [00:08:24]:


Mary Beth [00:08:25]:

And then at a certain point, we set up a donor advised fund, and the donor advised fund is such an amazing vehicle because you’re able to get the immediate tax deduction on the funds. So we can give this year directly to the organizations, or we can put money into our donor advised fund. It’s invested in line with our values. Amazing. And then we’re able to grant money out of that fund on an ongoing basis. And so I love the donor advice fund. We put money in there on an annual basis. Sometimes I give out of it during the year, but the goal for that account is for it to also continue to grow so that we can have conversations and bring the kids into the giving conversation over the long run as well, so that they know they have a pot of money that the family gives from. We talk through different causes, and so the donor advise fund, for us, it’s called the Storjohann Philanthropy Fund, which sounds like super cool when it’s your first. 

Neela [00:09:11]:

Very cool. 

Mary Beth [00:09:11]:

It’s not a foundation, but it’s very cool when you have that you can name your donor advised fund whatever you want. But doing that and being able to set the stage for conversations with the kids is really the intention behind it. So it is that forward thinking of what’s going to be on their hearts. Our daughter’s interested already in animal rights, and so having more conversations about that, getting her involved in being able to use some of her funds for giving, but knowing that the family does giving together as well. 

Neela [00:09:37]:

Oh, I love that. I’ve heard of families doing something kind of similar where they have family members pitch different causes, and then as a family, they vote on what to do. 

Mary Beth [00:09:48]:

Yes, that’s the goal as they get older. Yeah, six and eight. We’re not quite there yet, but that’s the goal, is for it to be a pitch the debate and just bring them in. And so it’s great because we have that fund, and then actually over spring break, we give to the Humane Society out here in San Diego. As donors, we’re going, and the kids are getting a tour of their adoption center, and they’re going to learn how the Humane Society works. 

Neela [00:10:04]:

Oh, my gosh. 

Mary Beth [00:10:04]:

And just like in terms of giving back, and so bringing the kids into that thinking and giving as well is a great opportunity. So donor advice funds are super accessible as well. I mean, they’re lower minimums, depending on where you open the accounts up anywhere, it’s like $5,000.

Neela [00:10:19]:

And also, for those of you who are writing checks, nod to our elder millennials. 

Mary Beth [00:10:24]:


Neela [00:10:25]:

Donor advice funds make it a lot easier to track all of your donations because you might do one donation in, and then you don’t have to track anything that really goes out of it. You only have to track the money going in. From a tax standpoint. 

Mary Beth [00:10:36]:

How do you handle your donor advice fund? Because you have one as well. 

Neela [00:10:38]:

Yeah. So you do a much better job of thinking proactively. It’s something that actually, we are trying to put more intentionality around. Towards the end of the year, we’re like, oh, wait, we need to be giving money away. And we’re definitely doing good job into the fund. But then for Tom and I to get together and be like, what are the causes that we really care about? And making sure that we are giving to those causes, some of them have to do with colleges that we went to. We’re very big advocates of public radio, and so we end up contributing to those causes as well as women’s rights. So that’s like, from our family standpoint, those are the different areas. And so we do a good job of getting money into the donor advice fund, and we need to follow more of the advice that I give clients, which is taking a much more proactive approach in terms of where that money goes, because it is really valuable and it’s really, really rewarding. 

Mary Beth [00:11:33]:

Yes. It’s interesting thinking through what we built at Abacus, too. So, zooming out, we just recently launched our Abacus charitable giving strategy. So we have, at Abacus, 1% of our revenues goes into a pot, and that money is accumulated over the years. And Abacus in the past has kind of done something similar. We’re like, okay, what causes have popped up? Let’s pick this year what’s important to us. And so we’ve got 20 organizations that we’ve given to based on whatever the demands or needs were in that year in line with our values. But it’s really hard to measure the impact for that. So it wasn’t until just last year we rolled out our internal charitable giving strategy that basically targets where our funds are going to, always in service of increasing diversity in the financial services industry and in the client base as well. And so now we have a clear set of organizations. We’re partnering with a multi year and multipronged approach, and we’re able to measure that impact. And so I think having a plan like that as an organization, having a plan like that as a family, too, though, you’re not necessarily going to know. But if you know you’re giving a dollar amount away on an annual basis, you’ll know if you want to give. Sometimes it’s easy to write that $50,000 check for the organization, for the donation, or it’s something that’s over a multi year approach. You want to give x amount a year to make sure that your donation is 50,000. I know it was on my mind ten years ago. We never actually ended up doing it, but I really wanted to build a school. That was one of the things that was on my mind was, like, setting aside and building up the funds to be able to donate to build a school. We’ve since pivoted from there, but something also thinking through, like, what’s the legacy, what’s the impact? And hearing your funds and allocating them there.

Neela [00:13:00]:


Mary Beth [00:13:00]:

I’ve learned a lot since then about building schools and not the best resources.

Neela [00:13:05]:

But the commitment to financial literacy is there, right? 

Mary Beth [00:13:07]:

Yes. And I learned, I evolved, I researched. So I think from the donor advice, but I think it’s a really great tool and resource for anybody, but especially those that do want to make giving a priority. Aren’t totally sure where to get started, but you do want to set something aside if you’re not sure where you want to donate, but you know that you want giving to be a part of your life in the long term. It’s also a great way to start to get that immediate tax deduction. Build up funds. You will have to give a certain percentage away on an annual basis, but you can allow some to build up. 

Neela [00:13:34]:

So provocative question, bringing back our good friend the should. I’m sure you get this question all the time, but how much money should people be donating? Should be giving away? How do you address that question? 

Mary Beth [00:13:48]:

It’s a tough one. It’s really spicy. Okay, let’s be honest. So I have the clients who do tithing. Some that’s like 10%. And then you go into a rabbit hole of 10% of your net, your gross. 

Neela [00:13:58]:

Spreadsheet rabbit hole.

Mary Beth [00:14:01]:

Spreadsheet rabbit hole of what it is in terms of just interpretation of what the Bible says. And we have those conversations with clients. You do. And everybody has their belief. In some cases, it’s a non-negotiable for clients. A client will come in and like, this is what I’m giving. I don’t care if it makes or breaks me. You need to cut and make it work around these things. So there’s those cases. I think you should give an amount that feels right to you after you have put on your own oxygen mask. That is the financial planner speak. We are going to say you need to max out your retirement accounts first. You need to be out of debt first. And I know for those that are committed, I totally give this disclaimer because I do know that those that are committed to the tithing component, it’s like, no, even if I’m in debt, even if I’m not saving, you’ll still do that. As financial planners from a fiscally responsible way, we do have to say save for yourself first, make sure you’re out of debt, have a fully funded emergency fund, and then above and beyond that, making sure that you’re on the right long-term trajectory to meet your needs. Then it’s whatever works for you. Some people might be willing to sacrifice travel to give more. Some people might say they want to give less because they’re at the stage where they’re giving all of their time to their kids classroom to volunteer. Maybe that’s their giving back, but I would say it’s hard to give a should. I do think it’s really rewarding. We know women make up a bulk of the giving, but it’s something that has to be personal to you. It’s on your heart. How about you? What’s yours? 

Neela [00:15:21]:

Yeah, I think similar. I think for the clients that are able to give that it makes sense in their financial plan. I like to say you should give an amount that makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable. Just push the edge a little bit, because oftentimes when people get started, they start by doing $25 here, $50 here, maybe $100. And then the first time they do a larger amount, it feels like, ooh, that’s kind of a lot to this one cause. And it’s really gratifying to see clients as their income and as their wealth changes over time, to really dial that up so that they’re not anchoring to the same amount that they were giving ten or 15 years ago and are able to have a greater impact. But I think for a lot of people, we want to really make sure that this podcast is accessible to people at a lot of different levels and that there are ways to give back. Where you’re not giving money, the heroes that are volunteering in our schools, we are not worthy. Thank you. Just giving your time is so incredible. If you work for an organization that does a charitable giving grant, make sure you are taking advantage of that. A lot more corporations are putting more charity into employee hands. That is just like free money for you to dole out. So make sure you’re taking advantage of that. And then all across the income spectrum, we talk about donor advised funds. Those actually work with a wide variety of consumers, people who have several hundreds or thousands of dollars in the donor advised fund, to people who have many millions who back 20 years ago would have started a foundation and don’t need to do that anymore because the donor advised fund is so nimble that they’re able to accomplish the same goals. 

Neela [00:17:03]:

So I think the should is always tricky. It’s good for it to be part of your financial plan because it’s better for society, but it is very personal.

Mary Beth [00:17:13]:

Yes, I’m going to take your question and raise you some spice. 

Neela [00:17:19]:

Oh, let’s get it. 

Mary Beth [00:17:20]:

Let’s talk about estate planning. With charitable giving. How much should you leave to your family versus charity? 

Neela [00:17:29]:

I’m really glad you brought that up, because when we talk about charitable giving, I feel like we’re focusing on the nonprofit world, which is like 501c organizations. And we are saying you should track this for tax purposes so you can get a deduction, yada, yada, yada. There are a lot of cultures out there who giving money to family feels like a non-negotiable and that it is about taking care of others. Estate planning, I think, is very tricky because it’s pretty common for people to mostly default to leaving money to their kids. That tends to be the default. Most estate planners that I’ve worked with, they assume that unless you direct them elsewhere, even though the client, depending on their wealth level, there are a lot of people who do not want their kids to inherit anything or much at all. 

Mary Beth [00:18:18]:

Yes, exactly. 

Neela [00:18:20]:

And yet, how do you get mad at a parent when you’re like, you mean you left money to the Red Cross instead of me? 

Mary Beth [00:18:28]:

How? How? And we’ve seen those. Right. We’ve seen those estate plans. 

Neela [00:18:31]:

Right. So what I often say is if you see somebody who is very passionate about giving back, and we have a lot of those clients at Abacus, people who are making the commitments to support different educational scholarships or food banks, or if that’s something that they keep turning to during their life, oftentimes they want to have that in their estate plan. They want to make sure that they are continuing to contribute to those organizations after they pass away. And yet it’s a balance between do we give it to kids and or family or do we do more nonprofits? I will say that the clients that we have that do not have kids are much more inclined to give that money to charitable organizations. I don’t know if you see the same. 

Mary Beth [00:19:14]:

Yes, same. There is a small percentage that goes to family, but the bulk of the estate ends up going to charities. 

Neela [00:19:21]:

And I will just nerd out for just like 5 seconds that if you’re at a certain level of wealth, at a certain level of complication, oh, my God, there are so many great tax moves that you can make so that. 

Mary Beth [00:19:31]:

You are, we’re going to start throwing out the name. We do the acronyms. 

Neela [00:19:35]:

It’s just like gorgeous. There are so many options, even without going down the Alphabet soup of trustlandia. But there are ways that you can end up leaving so much more money to charity or to your individuals just with some smart tax and estate planning. 

Mary Beth [00:19:50]:

Yes. What is it that you have the three options.

Neela [00:19:52]:

You can either give it away, right, to causes, give it to family, or pay to taxes. 

Mary Beth [00:19:56]:

You pay to taxes. 

Neela [00:19:57]:

What’s the combination?

Mary Beth [00:19:59]:


Neela [00:20:00]:

There are those people, most people are like, I never want to pay any tax. There are plenty of people out there who I’ve interacted with, who are like, I don’t mind paying my share back. So, again, it’s personal. And I think the biggest thing is, we talk about this a lot, is being intentional with what do you want? And that you don’t have to do what an estate planner thinks you should do. You don’t have to do, honestly, the most tax savvy thing that we might recommend. You have unique values, you have unique goals, and your plan should always reflect those. And for a lot of people, that does include some degree of charitable giving. 

Mary Beth [00:20:37]:

Yeah. And I think in general, most studies point to the positive consequences of just generosity and the social support that comes from it, the connections, the emotional, mental well-being. When you are generous, there are psychological and physical health benefits from giving to be biased, but this is why women are so great at stuff like this.

Neela [00:20:57]:

Yeah, science. 

Mary Beth [00:20:58]:

Science. It’s just science. There’s so many ways to give back throughout your lifespan and throughout your wealth span as well. As Neela said, we don’t want anybody to feel not included in this, because there are ways, based on your life stage and your wealth, where you can give back from the bottom to the top of the scale of where it can range, and about finding what’s right for you at this stage in life and at this wealth level, and then it may increase or decrease over time with where you’re at. But there are so many fantastic opportunities. If this is something that you do want to prioritize. 

Neela [00:21:26]:

Absolutely, ya know we’ll make the joke, “We’re like, we’re not your father’s financial planner.” Where you think about, generationally, how philanthropy really happened decades and decades ago, but now there’s all kinds of interesting organizations out there. I think of resource generation, which are Gen X and millennials and Gen Z, who are inheriting a lot of money and want to be more impactful with that money, and so they want to give more of that money away and making sure that you’re working with a team that will support that. Let’s face it, our industry is about people growing their wealth and isn’t necessarily targeted. I mean, we have, obviously, advisors who specialize in this, but isn’t necessarily targeted to giving more away. It breaks a lot of people’s brains, but I think it’s exciting seeing what’s happening generationally as different generations want different things and are really rethinking that money is an interesting tool and can be deployed as such. 

Mary Beth [00:22:23]:

Yes, it’s a disruption of sorts.

Neela [00:22:25]:

Yes. Love it. 

Mary Beth [00:22:26]:

Love it. As we’re thinking about this and going into wrap up, how does somebody get started? There are so many organizations that are out there, and there are more popping up every day when really there should be a consolidation, perhaps. How do you know that you’re being impactful when you’re allocating your money to a 501c3? How can I vet an organization? What resources do you recommend to clients? What sites are you looking at? How do I know that my money is being utilized in the best way if I’m donating to an organization? 

Neela [00:22:52]:

It’s such a good question. I mean, I think the first thing to do is to, like you said, identify what are the issues that you care about and starting there so that it at least allows you to refine your search within that field. So clean water, women’s rights, what have you from there. Do your due diligence on those charities. Charity Navigator is a great resource. Digging into it and seeing what the organization’s typical budget is, where those monies get actually deployed, and knowing that the more money you give, the more of a say you actually have in where that money gets allocated. The other thing that I think kind of doesn’t always make sense, but your money goes further in a smaller organization than in a much larger organization. Like, if you’re getting started, you can really kind of change the trajectory just because so many nonprofits have much smaller budgets. And so $100, $200 goes a lot further with a local organization than a much larger organization. And yet the larger organization might be something that you care about a lot. I worked with clients before where they gave too much money to a small organization, and that was actually just as disruptive, which is kind of crazy, too, because the organization doesn’t know how to deal with that level.

Mary Beth [00:24:09]:

To deploy the funds. Yes.

Neela [00:24:10]:

Right. And they’re like, if this is most of our donors are $15 to $30, what do we do with a $5,000 donation? So I do recommend digging into the charity, see what the typical grant size you can get people on the phone. The people that work in the nonprofit space are just wonderful human beings. And be like, what does a typical grant look like? Where would these monies be deployed? And just do a little bit of work behind the scenes and then check back in. And there might be causes that you continue to do year after year, or you pivot as other ones come on the scene. What else do you recommend? 

Mary Beth [00:24:41]:

One of the other things I was going to say, as you’re getting started, if you want to make giving a more active part of your life that I learned about because of the industry is foundations and giving circles. So I know these exist a lot for women across the country. And depending on the major city that you’re close to, there’s a lot of foundations where basically you make a small grant to the foundation. Maybe $1,500, $2,500, and the foundation allocates money to certain causes. It might be like mental health crisis for children, it might be LGBTQ, whatever those needs are. But then they are pitched organizations throughout the community. There’s 20 nonprofits that basically pitch themselves, and then grants are awarded from the members on an annual basis. And so if you’re looking to get more exposed to giving and to learn more about proposals and grant making, and you kind of want to get your hands dirty, but you also don’t work at a nonprofit. You could look into a giving circle. You could look into joining a foundation. There’s lots of accessible membership options for younger executives, et cetera. But that’s a great way, too, if you’re looking to get your hands more into the nonprofit world to understand how they’re working, like the board makeup, where funds are deployed, the proposals, what they’re doing on an annual basis for the budgets with funds like these, I think that’s really interesting option that a lot of people don’t know about.

Neela [00:25:53]:

Yeah, that’s brilliant. I love that. 

Mary Beth [00:25:55]:

Yeah. But same thing. A Charity Navigator. Understanding where the funds are being deployed, what percentage are going to executive expenses, what percentage are actually being deployed out into the field when you select an organization, understanding, like you said, the grants. And then even if you do have a larger one, if you are giving to larger organizations, there are also ways you can allocate the funds to the general fund, or you can go to a subcategory as well. So when there are emergencies or initiatives, you can sub allocate funds in areas as well. But again, just being mindful. You want to know what percentage of the funds that you donate are actually being used out in the field as opposed to business overhead costs. 

Neela [00:26:32]:

Right. Yeah.

Mary Beth [00:26:34]:

I’d say that’s the biggest one.

Neela [00:26:34]:

And we would be remiss to not mention that anytime you are donating money to 501c3 organizations, which are your typical nonprofits, make sure you’re recording it for tax purposes. You’ll need a little screenshot, some proof, so make sure you’re holding on to that. Just make tax time a little easier and know that charity does look different for different people. And if supporting your family or organization is something that is taking more of your resources that is giving. You’re not going to get a tax deduction for it, but don’t let the tax tail wag the planting dog, so to speak.

Mary Beth [00:27:07]:

All right, think that’s it. 

Neela [00:27:09]:

Thanks for listening.

Mary Beth [00:27:10]:

Thanks for listening. 

Neela [00:27:14]:

Thank you for listening to today’s episode of If Money Were Easy. If you’re looking for more information on how you can expand what’s possible with your money, head to That’s for more analysis and resources created by our team. 

Neela [00:27:56]:

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