Giving in the Time of Coronavirus
Guided by social distancing policies, we each have a significant role to play in helping diffuse the current health crisis – staying home. Even from home, though, we can see that this public health emergency is having a dramatic impact on people’s livelihoods and social relationships. Many of us want to do something productive, not only to protect our households, neighbors and work colleagues, but also to help more broadly in our communities.
The desire to give back – whether that means money, time and skilled labor, or other resources – builds when a crisis hits, often with asymmetric impacts. For now, in-person support is out of the question due to social distancing or self-quarantine guidelines, leaving monetary support as the most viable giving option. What are your options?
A vital community means thriving small businesses. Small business owners and their employees, particularly in the services and food sectors, are among those most impacted right now. Spending at these stores usually feels like, well, spending. In good times and bad, where you choose to spend your dollars is in effect an effort to support the continued sustainability and success of that business.
- Shift online – even for local spending. Over the past two decades conversation on the disappearance of local retail has been extensive, with so much consumption shifting to online, national outlets. Do you have favorite local businesses you treasure? Perhaps a bookstore, a framing store, a hardware store? Storefronts may be closed, but many of these businesses also allow you to order online, and to either pick up at the store or have your order sent.
- Pay ahead to provide an interest-free loan. Do you rely on local service providers for health or comfort? Consider paying ahead to housecleaners, masseuses, chiropractors & acupuncturists for services to be rendered in the future – helping them with an interest-free loan until their enforced shutdown of services (and income) ends.
- Buy gift cards or gift certificates. For retail, service providers, and hotels, consider buying a gift card or gift certificate. Some businesses have requested this, in some cases providing a discount in the future when the card is redeemed. In addition to the dollars spent, this also signals to businesses facing tough decisions that customers are eagerly awaiting their re-opening.
Requests from nonprofit organizations may be filling up your email in-box, as annual fundraising events are cancelled. This comes at a time when the communities they support may need more help than ever before. This may be a time when you choose to look at the organizations you typically support, perhaps commonly at year-end, and decide whether you have the liquidity to bring your donations forward in time.
Knowing your situation is stable in terms of your own needs will give you a basis to decide what, if anything, you would like to do in terms of charitable giving. We are available for conversations regarding liquidity for all purposes, including giving.
Another useful option is the Donor Advised Fund (DAF). Opening a DAF allows you to make the irrevocable donation of assets to charity, but does not require you to select the specific charities or timing up front. Commonly these are funded with highly appreciated stock to avoid the tax liability on the gains, augmenting the tax benefit of the charitable deduction. Another scenario is funding the accounts in a high taxable income year due to the sale of a business, a retirement-related severance, or other one-time income event.
- If you already have a DAF, you might choose to use those assets now for additional giving.
- If you don’t have a DAF in place, let’s talk about whether it makes sense to set one up, or if direct giving continues to make the most sense for you.
We know that many households are balancing personal well-being with empathy for their wider community in this time of uncertainty. We want to support you in your own sense of financial calm and security, especially insofar as that includes a question of how to support charity, family, or friends during this time.
This commentary on this website reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analyses of the North Berkeley Wealth Management (“North Berkeley”) employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by North Berkeley or performance returns of any North Berkeley client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment advice, performance data, or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. North Berkeley manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
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