Advice for Larger Donors | GiveWell

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Advice for Larger Donors

Donors considering making large donations should keep the following in mind when making their gift.

We are happy to help you. If you need assistance, please contact us at donations@givewell.org.

Issues associated with making large donations via credit card

When donating via credit card, you will be charged standard credit card processing fees. This means that when a donor gives $10,000 by credit card, GiveWell receives about $9,785 (about $9,680 if using AMEX). In addition, your credit card company may flag the transaction and block it from going through. Generally, a call to the credit card company can resolve a blocked transaction.

Donors can avoid these issues by:

  • Mailing a check to GiveWell for top charities. You may mail a check to GiveWell for the support of one of our top-rated charities. If possible, please include our check donation form (Microsoft Word version here). GiveWell takes no fees when collecting donations for the support of our top charities. You can mail us a check at:

    GiveWell
    182 Howard Street #208
    San Francisco, CA 94105

    Note that for donors giving near the end of 2016, this is a high-volume time of year; receipts for check donations may be delayed for up to two weeks. Checks from U.S. donors that are postmarked by December 31, 2016, will generally be eligible for tax deductions in 2016, subject to applicable tax laws.

  • Donating via bank transfer to GiveWell for top charities. You can make a donation via bank transfer to GiveWell and tell us by email that this donation is for the support of one of our top charities. GiveWell takes no fees when collecting donations for the support of our top charities. Please contact us at donations@givewell.org for more information about making a bank transfer to GiveWell.
  • Donating securities to GiveWell for top charities. Please email us at donations@givewell.org for information on donating securities. Some of our top charities may also be able to accept donated securities.
  • Give to top charities directly using one of the above methods. For many, but not all, of our top charities, you donate via check or bank transfer or give securities directly to the charity. Please see considerations for each charity here. If you take this option, please use our donation report form to let us know about your gift; doing so helps GiveWell track our impact. For links to top charities' websites and other basic information, see this page.

Other issues for larger donors to consider

Consider your tax rate

If you believe, for example, that your tax rate is likely to be higher in 2017 than in 2016, you may wish to give at the very beginning of 2017 rather than the very end of 2016. In addition to your marginal tax rate, you may want to consider whether you expect any tax policy changes that could affect charitable deductions, such as caps on how much you can deduct and, for U.S. taxpayers, the amount of the standard deduction.

As we have in the past, we will count donations made through January 31 towards our previous year's money moved.

Donor advised funds

Donor advised funds allow donors to make a charitable donation (and get a tax deduction) now, while deciding which charity to support later. The donation goes into a fund that is "advised" by the donor, and the donor may later recommend a grant from the fund to the charity of his/her choice.

Many large investment companies – Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab – offer donor advised funds.

Donor advised funds charge fees on the assets held in the fund. These fees vary based on the amount of assets held and the investment option chosen by the donor. (For example, see Vanguard's page on fees.)

We've heard from donors that it can be challenging to communicate your preferred donation allocation (to GiveWell's operations, GiveWell's recommended allocation, and/or a specific GiveWell-recommended charity) when giving through a donor advised fund. Please reach out to donations@givewell.org if you have any questions or want to confirm how your donations will be allocated.

GiveWell has a fund at Vanguard that donors can use if they do not wish to set up a fund on their own. (See this page for more information about contributing to this fund.)

Tax advantages of giving appreciated securities

Donating appreciated securities offers donors additional tax benefits. (For more information, see Vanguard's write-up on this topic.)

GiveWell maintains a brokerage account to allow us to accept donations of securities. Please contact us at donations@givewell.org for more information.

Donor advised funds may also be helpful in assisting donors in donating securities.