Advice for Larger Donors
Donors considering making large donations should keep the following in mind when making their gift.
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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:
- Donate online via bank transfer (ACH) to GiveWell. Donors with US bank accounts can make secure one-time or recurring ACH payments via our main donation form. Choose "bank account" as the payment method, and provide the appropriate banking information when prompted. GiveWell is charged 0.8% + $1.00 account validation fee on each initial ACH transaction, but the overall fees on an ACH donation are capped at $5.60. Because the costs to GiveWell are capped, this is the most cost effective way to make large donations. There is no additional administrative work for GiveWell to process ACH transactions.
- Donating via wire transfer to GiveWell. If you are interested in making a donation to GiveWell via wire transfer, please follow the instructions here. GiveWell takes no fees, although there are administrative costs involved in processing wire transfers.
- Mailing a check to GiveWell. Due to an increase in mail fraud and potential mail delays, we encourage you to consider one of our other donation methods. GiveWell takes no fees, however there are administrative costs involved in processing check donations. If you would like to mail a check, please follow the instructions here.
- Donating securities to GiveWell. If you are interested in making a donation of stock or securities to GiveWell, please follow the instructions here.
- Donating cryptocurrency to GiveWell. If you are interested in making a donation of cryptocurrency to GiveWell, please follow the instructions here. We are able to accept donations of all cryptocurrencies that are tradable on Coinbase, a list which currently includes Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, and 0x. If you would like to donate a cryptocurrency not listed, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Give to top charities directly using one of the above methods. For many, but not all, of our top charities, you may 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.
Donor requests to grant donations to our recommended charities are subject to our approval (more details on this here).
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 next year than this year, you may wish to give at the very beginning of next year rather than the very end of this year. 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 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.)
If you already have a donor-advised fund, you can follow the instructions here for making a gift to GiveWell in this way. If you'd like to set up a donor-advised fund, more information is available here.
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 Fidelity's write-up on this topic.)
GiveWell maintains a brokerage account to allow us to accept donations of securities. If you are interested in making a donation of securities to GiveWell, please follow the instructions here.
Donor-advised funds may also be helpful in assisting donors in donating securities.
Please note that the above is not tax, legal, or financial advice. Benefits may vary depending on your situation. We recommend speaking to your tax accountant, lawyer, or financial advisor for specific tax, legal, or financial advice for your situation.