The Dream Foundation, the first and largest national wish-granting organization for adults and their families suffering life-threatening illness, is sharing end-of-year giving tips garnered from its top supporters and financial advisors.

According to Dream Foundation founder Thomas Rollerson, this is an important time of year to be strategic with contributions.

“We want to share these sound tips not just on behalf of Dream Foundation, but for a broad scope of tremendous local and national causes,” Rollerson said. “As an organization, we always believe it is important for individuals to do what they can for the nonprofits that move them. Even if it doesn’t affect our organization directly, it lifts humanity. It benefits us all.”

Inspired by a stock contribution from local philanthropists Colleen and Michael Taylor, the Dream Foundation worked with the Taylors’ highly accredited financial advisor to come up with the following year-end tips:

» Tip #1: Researching fiscal responsibility of nonprofit. It is important to first explore the efficiency of your charity of choice to ensure your donation will be put to good use and will yield the highest level of return on your contribution (and compassion). Charity Navigator is one of the leading independent charity evaluators. You can research the posted financials and fiscal responsibility of thousands charities by clicking here.

» Tip #2: Gifting of appreciated common stock or other securities — one of the easiest strategies to implement. This provides for a donation at the current market value of the security, reduces the tax burden of the donor and reduces the estate size of the donor.

» Tip #3: Establishing a charitable gift annuity. A charitable gift annuity is a way to make a gift to your favorite charity, and still receive an income for yourself or others. It is a contract under which a charity, in return for a transfer of cash or other property, agrees to pay a fixed sum of money for a period measured by one or two lives.

» Tip #4: IRA required minimum distribution. If you are 70½ or older and have an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) you have two options available to you in regard to these accounts, the first being to directly gift to the charity. The donor still is required to pay taxes on the distribution amount, the donation amount is considered a charitable donation and therefore eligible for a charitable deduction on their taxes. The other strategy would be to name the charity as a beneficiary of the IRA. This strategy is also available to IRA owners under the age of 70½.

» Tip #5: Opening a donor advised fund. These funds are available to individuals for donations as small as $5,000. These instruments allow for an immediate donation for the full amount placed into the fund, but the owner of the fund can spread out the donations over a multiyear period. It also allows the donor to gift to multiple charities through one pooled donation. These can be funded through cash or appreciated securities.

According to the Taylors’ financial advisor, there are more advanced solutions available through charitable remainder and lead trusts, private foundations and even life insurance that can add to your legacy and charitable impact. As with any gifting strategy, it is always recommended that you consult with your financial advisor, accountant, estate attorney, and the charity involved before starting any gift.

“More than 90 percent of households in the United States donate to a charity in some form,” the Taylor advisor said. “The important point is individuals and families should systematically think through their gifting strategies.”

— Kelly Sweda represents the Dream Foundation.