In today’s world, free time has become a luxury that few can afford. Many people have the desire to help others but simply don’t have time or don’t know how. For those interested in donating to charity but who are unable to offer volunteer services, planned giving is an exciting alternative. Gift planning from your estate is a great way to help people in need and have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made a difference. Helping others is one of the mankind’s most fulfilling traditions, so be a part of that heritage by making a planned gift from your estate today!

Planned Giving: Getting Started

When it comes to charity, have you ever found yourself saying, “I wish I could help,”? Even if you are someone who never has free time, or you are not really the ‘hands on’ type, there are still ways to give, and gift planning can be a very rewarding part of your own personal legacy. Everyone wants to know that they’ve accomplished something great and to leave behind a trail of goodwill. Planned giving will give you the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve given someone who is struggling to survive a helping hand.

Once you’ve made the decision to become a donor, you’ll want to find the right charity. To begin with, you’ll want to give to an organization that has some staying power. Fly-by-night schemes are everywhere these days and it’s crucial to know what to look for in a legitimate cause. This can usually be determined with a minor amount of internet research. It’s always a good idea to start by looking at groups that are local because it will allow you to follow up more closely on their activities, but it will also give you the chance to ensure that your donation will go toward helping your neighbors and community. Be sure to look for an agency that is an Official IRS Recognized 501 (c)(3) charity, which should be advertised fairly openly, as this will guarantee that your donation is made securely and also that you will receive the appropriate tax deductions.

Another easy way to find a legitimate organization is by looking at whether or not they openly volunteer to their donors what percentage of their intake goes directly to their recipients. You should know that the law does not require a minimum standard on this percentage in order for a business group to function as a charity. This means that a ‘charitable’ group can have all the right earmarks of legitimacy – such as swanky benefits, testimonials, web sites, etc. – and still only donate as little as 1% of their collections to the targeted population. Charities are also not obligated to offer this information to the public, so beware of any group that minimizes or ignores this important information.

You’ll also want to choose a charity group that offers different giving options, maximum tax deductions, and the right to set up the donation so that it helps a particular group of your choosing, such as veterans or children and families. You should also consider the flexibility of types of donations accepted to ensure a good fit. A good charity should allow you to donate anything from cars or other vehicles to property, artwork, or a monetary bequest. It’s important to know for sure that your chosen organization has made as easy and safe as possible for you to donate, so be sure to ask about procedures. Settling an estate is complicated enough without the added hassle of legal entanglements or petitions later on!

Make a Planned Gift to Volunteers of America

            Since the 1890s, Greater New Orleans Volunteers of America has been providing charitable services to Louisiana in 16 parishes. Volunteers of America accepts planned gifts of all types and amounts, and they will help you structure your gift so that you receive the maximum tax benefits available. Call (504) 482-2130 for more information or visit and select the “Give A Gift” tab to get started, or just read some of their success stories. Gifts can be made online, by phone, fax or mail, and donations can be anything from stocks or mutual funds to a car to volunteer hours. Start your legacy today!

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