This month we’re going to review charitable giving, including the process and the tools. We’ll start by reviewing a decision process and then describe a few commonly discussed vehicles.

For many of us, giving is little more than a year-end chore. As the holidays and the year-end approach, we think about the importance of giving back and then we start writing checks or entering credit card numbers on charities’ websites. Simply writing a check may fulfill an obligation, but it doesn’t usually provide much satisfaction. It may be better to start earlier and make sure that the charities we give money to do indeed share our most important values.

There are over 1 million public charities in the U.S., so the task of deciding who is most deserving can be daunting. However, most of our clients know what’s really important to them because they have well-developed values they would like to reinforce and spread. Those provide an excellent platform to start a giving process. Whether its education, health, the arts, or another from the myriad of other worthy causes, there’s at least one that speaks to each of us.