Have a Heart, by Nancy Gardiner

The year end flurry of giving is over and our inboxes and mailboxes are full of thank you notes for generous gifts and contributions made before the close of the calendar year. In families where annual cash gifts are a tradition, December is often the month when such gifts are made. Similarly, many charitable organizations receive the bulk of their donations at year end. Inspired by compelling fundraising campaigns, the looming end of the calendar/tax year and the spirit of good will during the holidays, donors open their checkbooks.

January brings with it a winter quiet. Here in New England, the New Year began, literally, with a clean slate in the form of a blanket of white snow covering the region. We advise many clients to make their family gifts of cash and securities in January. Life is less hectic and those receiving the gifts can enjoy them throughout the year. The donor has the satisfaction of knowing that, no matter what happens, he or she has made their annual gift and has avoided any appreciation or income from the gift.

As the holiday cards disappear from the shelves to be replaced by heart shaped boxes of candy, it seems fitting to think about making charitable gifts early in the year as well. Strip away the commercial gloss and Valentine’s Day is, at its core, about caring. Scientists report that the brain churns out a pleasurable sensation when we give. So, as you think about who your Valentines are, maybe your favorite charities should make the list. They will have the whole year to enjoy the gift and you will have the satisfaction that you have made a difference. After all, that’s the heart of the matter and, in giving as in life generally, timing is everything.

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