Three Times for Charitable Giving

Many people focus their attention on charitable giving toward the end of the year. It makes sense because this is often when we are thinking about various year-end financial and tax-planning issues or meeting the annual giving pledges that we’ve already made.

However, philanthropic planning can happen year-round, and there are certain milestones when we believe it really deserves extra attention. Here are three times when you might want to move charitable giving to the top of your agenda:

1. When you’ve had a big income year

The biggest income year of your life could also be the biggest charitable contribution year. In a big income year, many clients consider setting up a donor advised fund (DAF) as a way to bulk together several years of giving all at once and potentially maximize their income tax relief.

With a DAF, you make an irrevocable gift to a charitable account that you control. In return, you get an upfront, itemized tax deduction. You can then manage, invest and grow the charitable gift account assets until you are ready to donate dollars to the charities of your choosing, with no annual distribution requirements.

In addition to cash, you can also contribute securities to your DAF. This can create another layer of tax benefit if those securities have appreciated in value because it allows you to eliminate the capital gains tax.

A DAF has many of the same benefits as setting up a private foundation, except in a package that is generally easier and less expensive to implement. Your wealth and tax advisors can help you establish the fund and determine a strategy for contributing.

2. When you are over age 70.5

It may sound like an odd number, but reaching age 70.5 is when the tax code permits you to use a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from your IRA, which is often the most tax-efficient way to give in the long run.

With a QCD, you take money from your IRA and hand it over to a registered charity. This can satisfy your required minimum distribution (RMD), remove ordinary income and lower your adjusted gross income. It’s a straightforward transaction, and you don’t even need to itemize deductions to take advantage of it.

When you analyze the effect of this strategy over time, giving to charity using your IRA is worth even more in future tax savings than giving appreciated stock from a trust account. Your wealth and tax advisors can calculate the optimal gift amount and help facilitate the transaction for you.

3. When planning your estate

If you are considering charitable giving as part of your legacy, we believe the time to start planning is now. This is particularly true if you could be subject to estate tax under the current rules, or when the tax exemption amount drops substantially at the end of 2025. 

We believe it’s best to work with professionals who can understand your giving goals and map out the best way to plan for them. For example, you may wish to consider the pros and cons of setting up a private foundation or a charitable trust or perhaps naming specific charities or a DAF as beneficiaries of your IRA.

In our opinion, there’s never a bad time to support the causes you care about, but when your income peaks, you reach your 70s or your ultimate legacy is on your mind, good planning can amplify the potential benefits. At times like these, speak with your Corient wealth advisor about the best ways to give.


Matthew R. Adams, CPA, CFP, CDFA

Matthew R. Adams, CPA, CFP, CDFA

Partner, Wealth Advisor

Matt is a Partner, Wealth Advisor in our San Diego office. Matt joined legacy firm Dowling & Yahnke Wealth Advisors in 2017. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and holds the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst certifications. Matt completed his undergraduate work at UC Santa Barbara, where he majored in business economics and accounting, graduating cum laude. He was also an intercollegiate men’s volleyball scholar-athlete at UCSB.



This information is for educational purposes and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax, insurance, or investment advice.  This does not constitute an offer to provide any services, nor a solicitation to purchase securities. The contents are not intended to be advice tailored to any particular person or situation. We believe the information provided is accurate and reliable, but do not warrant it as to completeness or accuracy.  This information may include opinions or forecasts, including investment strategies and economic and market conditions; however, there is no guarantee that such opinions or forecasts will prove to be correct, and they also may change without notice.  We encourage you to speak with a qualified professional regarding your scenario and the then-current applicable laws and rules.

Advisory services are offered through Corient Private Wealth LLC and its affiliates, each being a registered investment adviser (“RIA”) regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).  The advisory services are only offered in jurisdictions where the RIA is appropriately registered.  The use of the term “registered” does not imply any particular level of skill or training and does not imply any approval by the SEC. For a complete discussion of the scope of advisory services offered, fees, and other disclosures, please review the RIA’s Disclosure Brochure (Form ADV Part 2A) and Form CRS, available upon request from the RIA and online at We also encourage you to review the RIA’s Privacy Policy and Code of Ethics, which are available upon request.

Our clients must, in writing, advise us of personal, financial, or investment objective changes and any restrictions desired on our services so that we may re-evaluate any previous recommendations and adjust our advisory services as needed. For current clients, please advise us immediately if you are not receiving monthly account statements from your custodian. We encourage you to compare your custodial statements to any information we provide to you.