Amid all the royal wedding hoopla, did you notice what Prince William and his fiancée, Kate Middleton, have asked for in terms of wedding gifts?
Since this is one couple that truly does have everything, they’ve asked anyone wanting to get them a gift to consider making a donation instead.
The royal couple has set up a charitable gift fund to support five causes that are important to them, with 26 charities named under the five causes.
Will Charitable Giving Become the New Trend in Weddings?
According to a recent American Express survey, only two percent of Americans would ask guests at their wedding to donate to a charity, and I doubt that the royal wedding will change that.
Let’s face it, most of us commoners don’t have everything we need.
Sure, wedding gifts can get excessive, and if a couple truly does have most of what they need, or perhaps in the case of a second wedding where the friends and family of those getting married have already given them gifts, asking for charitable contributions in lieu of other gifts makes a lot of sense.
For most couples, though, wedding gifts can go a long way toward helping them set up their household. Plus, gifts are a tangible way to celebrate such a special life event. Jude and I have been married for almost 12 years, and whenever we use something we received as a wedding gift, it reminds us of all the love and support we received from family and friends.
Still, There Are Lessons We Can Learn from Prince William and Kate
I see two take-aways from the royal couple’s philanthropic mindset that are applicable to others. First is the importance of talking about charitable giving before getting married. The fact that Prince William and Kate have selected 26 charities to benefit from their charitable gift fund tells me they’ve had a few conversations about this.
It’s important for all couples planning to marry to talk about charitable giving. What has been each person’s pattern to date? How much do they give away each year? Is the amount chosen based on a percentage of income or through some other process? What organizations does each person support? Which ones will they support once they are married?
Setting Up Your Own Charitable Gift Fund
The second point, which is applicable to all, not just couples, is whether you’d like to create a foundation or charitable gift fund (also known as a donor advised fund) at some point. It may not be realistic to create such a fund when you’re young, but wouldn’t it be a great goal to create a charitable giving mechanism that continues to make a difference long after you’re gone?
We know one couple that has done this. They thought about using year-end bonuses and appreciated stock to set up their own foundation, but discovered that using a donor-advised fund would be easier. They have chosen various charitable organizations to benefit from the fund and also have the flexibility to give from the fund as they see needs.
Since the organization managing their fund invests the money wisely, they found that even in a year when their personal income was down due to the economy, they were able to increase their giving.
Most of the big brokerage houses can help you set up a charitable gift fund, whether Fidelity Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, and others. There are also faith-based organizations such as the National Christian Foundation and the Barnabas Foundation (the organization chosen by our friends).
You can contribute cash, stock, real estate, and other assets, taking a tax deduction in the year that you make the donation, but the money does not need to be distributed that year. It is professionally invested. Then you choose how much to contribute and to which organizations over time.
What are your thoughts? Will the royal wedding spur more couples to ask for charitable contributions instead of wedding gifts? And what do you think about creating a foundation or a charitable gift fund at some point in your life?
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