Why in the world would I do that?  I thought to myself as I listened to the presentation.

Funnel my giving through another organization?  No thanks, I’m a big boy and can handle my own money.

I was sitting in a lunch sponsored by the National Christian Foundation (NCF), an organization who helps facilitate giving and generosity.  Our financial advisor invited us and thought it might be something worth looking into.

The way it works is this:  You make a tax-exempt donation to NCF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  They set up for you what is called a donor-advised account, where the money is held with your name on it.  It’s not your money anymore, it belongs to NCF, but it’s earmarked for you and held in an account.  From there, you direct NCF to make grants/donations to churches, hospitals, missions organizations, or other non-profits that you want to support.

While I was initially skeptical of the value of this in our situation, upon further reflection and experience I’ve found that an account with NCF has (at least) four great benefits:

1) You don’t have to make all the decisions at once.  You may have money that you’ve earmarked to give away, but you just don’t know who it’s for, yet.  At that point you have two options.  Hold onto it in your savings account and hope you don’t forget that you earmarked it for giving, or open an account at NCF.  They can hold the funds indefinitely until you decide to whom it should go and in what amount.

2) Immediate tax-deductibility.  This is big for a lot of people.  I don’t give money away for the tax deduction, but I do believe that part of being a good steward is minimizing your tax liability.  I handle my money better than the government does.

As soon as you write a check to the NCF, it’s a tax-deductible donation.  It doesn’t have to be designated to another nonprofit organization at that point; it’s immediately tax deductible.  This works great for small business owners or people with end-of-year bonuses who know they want to give some money away, but don’t have it all figured out yet.  For example, we opened our account on December 30, 2013!

3) Anonymity made simple.  This is an important one.  Jesus told us:

“But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:3-4

Normally, to give an anonymous donation, you have just a few options:
– Put cash in an envelope and arrange a clandestine drop-off or a courier to deliver it.
– Go to the bank, get a cashier’s check, and mail it without any identifying information on it and hope it gets there.

Those can work okay, but I love that I can login to my NCF account online, make a grant recommendation, select that I want it to remain anonymous, and approve it in about five minutes from my desk.  The check is cut with a letter from the local NCF director, and we are left completely out of it.

4) You write one check.  You write one to them, and they write all the others, at your direction through the online portal.  This is a big time-saver if you give to multiple organizations.  Also you can set up recurring donations on a monthly basis or as you direct.

As you grow and cultivate a habit of generosity and giving, you’re going to want to look for solid options to help you be a good steward while you give.  I think the National Christian Foundation is a great asset to that end.  Check them out!

National Christian Foundation – Raleigh Chapter

National Christian Foundation – Find your chapter