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How donating to charity helps you live generously in every season of life

Senior mother and daughter using smartphone together at home, smiling joyfully.
AsiaVision/Getty Images

Many people are moved with compassion when they learn about a need that a charity or nonprofit is filling in society. However, daily life can get in the way of your plans to give back. The good news is it's possible to live your life to the fullest while also donating to a charity.

Why should you donate to charity?

People typically have a positive experience when donating to charity, but the benefits go far beyond the warm and fuzzy feeling. You might be excited to learn that you not only make yourself feel good, you can strengthen your community, set an example for younger generations and even save on your taxes, all in one fell swoop.

Here are five ways you can expand your impact by donating to a charity.

1. Contribute to a better world

It's not uncommon to be worried by the complex problems of the world. The best ways to help are with hands-on efforts or with your money. One way to focus your efforts is by connecting with people running nonprofit organizations. Your donations can serve to "help the helpers" and benefit those who are working hard to improve their surroundings. Your time and money can go a long way toward contributing to a better world.

2. Set an example about how to participate in the community

Whether you teach teenagers, have young kids or grandkids or love spending time with other's children, most of us play an influential role at some point in our lives. Participating in charities and making generous donations can show others how they also can draw meaning and joy from giving.

Many families and friends rally around a particular cause and build connections through the act of giving together and celebrating their shared impact. For example, you and your friends might make it a tradition to buy and serve food at a local shelter every month. This experience bonds you to each other and enables you to help less-fortunate community members.

3. Get motivated to learn about causes that matter

Once you know your money is invested in a cause, you're likely to become even more engaged and learn about your cause. Whether you care most about finding a cure for cancer, animal welfare, environmental conservation or caring for children, the issue you're focused on is likely complex.

People who work for nonprofit organizations or government entities can help you understand where your assets could make the largest impact. This can motivate you to dive deep into learning more about the issue. Learning is one of the most fulfilling parts of life, and generosity can guide you to new sources of discovery and impact.

4. Leave a legacy that continues your giving

Creating a donor-advised fund or trust can help you continue supporting the important work of the organizations you care about even after you pass away.

Legacy giving helps to show your children, grandchildren and friends some of the causes that mattered most to you, and it can grow the seeds of generosity in them as well.

5. Potentially receive tax benefits

Charitable giving to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations is incentivized on taxes, allowing individuals and couples to deduct their giving from their taxable income, ultimately reducing their tax bills. Even if you feel blessed to the point where such a tax strategy isn't necessary for you, it's a good idea to consider. Every dollar saved by optimizing your charitable donations' impact on your taxes can be funneled back into additional charitable giving.

As you grow your nest egg, vehicles like charitable remainder trusts can help you use the income you need in life while benefiting a cause of your choice long term. You can save on your tax bill and reallocate those funds specifically to the causes that matter most to you—all it takes is some thoughtful planning and working with a tax professional.

Ask yourself: "Am I doing something good when I can? Am I giving of myself? Am I leaving the world a better place?" The answers can inspire you to take action.
Mandy Tuong, President & CEO of Thrivent Charitable

A story of a living legacy

A solid charitable plan can help you decide how much is prudent to donate to charity now while also creating wealth that can further your legacy. To the Wold family—Catherine and her children and grandchildren—it's about living out and passing on the values demonstrated by her late husband, David. They are practicing a living legacy, based on the idea that you can pass along your legacy while you're alive, whether it's your values, passions, time or money.

Mandy Tuong, President & CEO of Thrivent Charitable Impact and Investing®, encourages clients to start by asking some questions, "Am I doing something good when I can? Am I giving of myself? Am I leaving the world a better place?" The answers can inspire you to take action.

"People are establishing charitable funds to make grants to their favorite causes, so they can see the impact of their contributions," says Tuong.

The Wold family has been granting money from a charitable fund for several years. David's son set it up with his father about 10 years ago, before he died. They hadn't started granting funds yet, and started after David's death to honor him.

"Our grants aren't huge," says Nick Wold, Catherine and David's son. "But we know that even a small amount can make a difference to an organization. My dad wanted this to be a family effort, and we wanted to carry on his legacy of living and giving."

You can purchase many financial products, such as life insurance contracts, with a charitable organization named as a beneficiary. Additionally, some strategies—such as qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from an individual retirement account—can reduce tax costs and fit well into an estate strategy. Donating as part of your estate can help you retain flexibility and control of your assets during your life while growing the impact you can have on your community in the long term.

A financial advisor can share ways to give

Cash donations, donor-advised funds and qualified charitable distributions are just a few of the ways you can live generously and contribute to toward a better world. A financial advisor can help you understand the ways you can work generosity into your financial strategy. At the same time, they can factor in the security, flexibility and goals you have for your own family's spending and saving, so you can feel your financial choices are aligned with your values and needs.

Talk to a Thrivent financial advisor today to get started.

Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing® is a public charity that serves individuals, organizations and the community through charitable planning, donor-advised funds and endowments. Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing works collaboratively with Thrivent and its financial advisors. It is a separate legal entity from Thrivent, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Donors must itemize deductions to receive a charitable income tax deduction. Charitable giving can result in tax, legal and financial consequences. Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing™ does not provide legal, accounting or tax advice. Consult your attorney or tax professional.

Thrivent and its financial advisors and professionals do not provide legal, accounting or tax advice. Consult your attorney or tax professional.

Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. A donor-advised fund is a mutual fund.  The mutual fund prospectus will contain more information on investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses.  An investor should read the prospectus carefully and consider all features of an investment before investing.