There’s good news about philanthropy in America: donors as a group gave 6% more to charities in 2005, an estimated $260 billion, up from $245 billion in 2004, according to Giving USA, written by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and published by the Giving USA Foundation. Individuals were, as usual, the most generous, donating 76.5% of the gifts. Many of the donations were specifically to disaster-relief organizations in reaction to catastrophic events including the tsunami in Southeast Asia, and Hurricane Katrina, but donations were up in all major categories except for the arts, culture, and humanities sub-sector.
Americans’ generosity leads to a unique opportunity for advisors. When clients want to plan their philanthropy there are many ways an advisor might react. Some may feel that they are in competition with charities for client/donors’ assets, and while that may be true in some cases, there are ways for advisors to take on the responsibility of helping clients structure ways of giving that are beneficial to the client, her heirs, the charity, and even the advisor who may retain control of management of those charitable assets.