What is your strategy for giving?

Santa Hat ResizedFacebook’s co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan recently announced they would donate 99% of their Facebook shares to charities over the course of their lives. Currently valued at 45 billion dollars, their hope is that their donations will create a better world for their newborn daughter.

At this time of year we tend to be in the mood to give, but the opportunities to donate can be overwhelming. Questions may arise such as:

  • What charities should I select?
  • How much should I give?
  • How can giving be built into my financial strategy?

In the spirit of the holidays, we’ve put together some resources to help navigate the options.

Choosing Charities

Revisit your values
When you began the life planning process with your advisor, you would have reviewed your values and probably narrowed them down to your top 3 to 5 priorities. Your values serve as a decision making framework while building your financial strategy and as you manage change along the way.

Here is an example – the core decision-making values of this couple are:

  1. Family – to contribute to family members.
  2. Health – to be healthy and lead a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Self-Realization – to realize the full potential of our skills and abilities.
  4. Enjoyment – to enjoy life and have fun.
  5. Wealth – to be able to afford opportunities.

When faced with multiple opportunities to give, you can reflect on what is most important to you and align with charities that support your personal values. If you haven’t explored your values yet, you can use this worksheet to do so.

If you have questions or concerns about a charity, conduct your due diligence. 
CRA has numerous resources to verify legitimacy and provide the financial details on registered charities. This video series provides guidance on how to use CRA’s resources.

Charity Intelligence Canada (CI) is a not-for-profit organization that conducts research and rates Canadian charities. Charities are assessed for accountability, transparency, need for funding and cost efficiency. By using their ratings you can make higher impact donations. According to CI there are over 86,000 registered charities in Canada and it is a 3 billion dollar industry. CI has over 600 profiles available for your review.

How Much to Give

In your financial strategy you will have identified how much to give. For quick calculations you can use CRA’s Charitable Donation Tax Calculator. If your contribution is to be tax deductible, the donation must be made to a registered charity. Search in the Charities Listings to verify the charitable status. You need to keep the official donation receipt and include it for tax preparation.

First-time donor’s super credit (FDSC)
CRA has a special credit available for first time donors. If you, your spouse or common-law partner have not claimed a charitable donation credit for any year after 2007, the credit may apply. Visit CRA’s FDSC page for more information.

Charitable Giving Strategies

Depending on your circumstances there are numerous charitable giving strategies that can be explored. If you could protect your family and have an impact on the community would that interest you?

If you have any questions contact your advisor. Otherwise, enjoy a season of giving!


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