Realizing Your Values

For many individuals and families, giving back is a core part of their values. And research has shown that donating money to charity can increase happiness and personal satisfaction (interestingly, a study in the International Journal of Research in Marketing found that unpublicized giving makes you even happier!) Helping others while making a difference in your own community and beyond can be empowering, especially if you choose a charitable organization that aligns with your interests and morals, whether you’re inclined to causes that are cultural, change-making, or helping those in need.

Engaging the Next Generation

Philanthropy is an effective tool for sparking conversations about values and financial literacy within your own family. Charitable donations can be used to explain the importance of generosity, allowing you to lead by example and inspire the next generation to become more invested in understanding their finances.

Connecting With Your Community

In addition to giving financially, you may wish to consider other non-monetary ways you can give such as volunteering, board leadership, or donating hard assets, such as real estate, art, or other collectibles. Some research 1suggests that volunteering carries with it physical health benefits. It also offers an opportunity to connect with and learn from potentially like-minded philanthropic individuals.

¹The Hidden Gifts of Helping, Stephen Post;
It’s Good to Be Good: Science Says It’s So, Stephen Post;
The Power of Philanthropy and Volunteering, Sara Konrath;
A Prospective Study of Volunteerism and Hypertension Risk in Older Adults, Rodlescia Sneed

How to Choose a Charity

Once you have decided what cause you would like to support, the next step is choosing a charitable organization that aligns with your goals. There are thousands of charities, but it’s important to make sure the one you choose meets the legal criteria to qualify as a charitable institution for tax purposes. There are a number of resources to research nonprofits, beginning with the IRS’ search tool for tax exempt organizations. You may want to evaluate other criteria, including spending and budget history, organizational leadership, and the percent of funds that go toward the cause versus administrative or fundraising expenses.

The following resources can help you evaluate and select charities suited to your goals:


Your EP Wealth Advisors team will work with you to develop your charitable giving plan, helping you determine where you want to give, create an overall budget for giving, identify what assets might be best suited to direct to charity, and select the best structures for giving.


We help establish your philanthropic goals. You may wish to support the arts, medical research, help those in need, or another cause. We will work with you to help you define your values and the causes that align.


A key part of your charitable strategy is looking at your overall financial plan and determining how much you can direct to charity. If your goal is to support a cause for an extended period versus a one-time gift, your plan will reflect your wishes.

A Giving Strategy Aligned with Your Financial Situation

How you give financially depends on your unique situation and preferences, and EP Wealth Advisors can help you evaluate the different options for giving and choose the one most appropriate to your goals and circumstances.

  • While cash is the most direct way to give it may not provide the most tax-efficient benefits
  • Appreciated assets such as real estate, stock, or other assets may allow you to reduce your capital gains taxes while helping you maximize your giving and impact
  • A Qualified Charitable Distribution strategy may be an effective way to utilize retirement accounts for charitable giving by re-directing Required Minimum Distributions to a charitable cause while also reducing your taxable income


For longer-term giving, a trust or charitable giving fund may be the most effective way to donate. Here are three ways to give you are likely to encounter:

Donor-Advised Fund

A donor-advised fund (DAF) is different from trusts in that you can donate assets and take advantage of the tax deductions without specifying the charitable organization(s) that will eventually receive the funds at the time of donation. This gives you the freedom to choose your charitable donation recipients over time.

Charitable Remainder Trust

A charitable remainder trust (CRT) is formed when assets are transferred irrevocably into a fund. This trust fund should generate income, which you or the stated beneficiaries receive for the specified lifetime of the trust. At the end of the term, the remaining trust assets are distributed to one or more charities chosen at the formation of the CRT.

Charitable Lead Trust

A charitable lead trust (CLT) is the opposite of a charitable remainder trust. Assets are transferred irrevocably into a fund in which one or more charities receive the generated income for the lifetime of the trust. At the end of the specified term, the remaining assets are distributed to a designated beneficiary.


Our breadth of coverage across the U.S. means we’re local—here to serve your needs at your convenience.