One of the great benefits of having accumulated wealth is the ability to give it away. Research shows that being generous has a number of psychological and physical benefits. Giving is good for you, because it tells your brain that you have enough. Enough to be able to share with others.

The challenge is to maximize the benefit you are able to convey to your favorite charity. It has always been the case that giving appreciated securities either directly to a charity or through a donor-advisor fund was an efficient way of making contributions. Given the changes in the tax laws last year, it is now advisable to use this method almost exclusively. Patrick Melvin Jr. at Independent Thought writes:

What is the single biggest mistake that generous and affluent people make when it comes to planning their charitable giving? Giving exclusively in the form of cash.

Given that we are now nearly a decade off of the stock market’s nadir and many years into a full-blown bull market it is likely the case that you have some securities, stocks, ETFs or mutual funds, that have appreciated in value. Fred Wilson at A VC walks through the math:

I figure that a stock gift costs about 10-20% of the dollar value of the gift if you live in a high tax location like NYC…So if you have highly appreciated publicly traded stock and are interested in giving to good causes, consider gifting stock instead of cash.

It is now easier than ever to donated appreciated securities. Schwab, Fidelity and Vanguard all have big, well-established donor-advised funds that you can easily access online. The gift recommendation process is easy as well. The biggest downside, may be that you cannot make small donations.

You should, of course, consult with your financial advisor and tax specialist before making any large, irreversible donations either to a donor-advised fund or charity directly. That being said, here’s hoping you enjoy the fruits of your hard work (and a big, bull market).

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