Whether you are following your passion, giving through your church or making charitable contributions to get a tax write off, supporting our charities are an important aspect of life.

While there are naysayers who may call American’s greedy, America is an incredibly charitable-minded country. According to Fidelity Charitable reports, Americans have given over $300 billion to charities. The reports also share that over sixty million adults have donated not just their money but their time to charities and charitable causes.

How many charities are there today? The National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) reports that there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States. The truth is, if you can think of it, chances are there is a charity for it! Charities give people the ability to give back, fund and support the causes they are passionate about whether it be through money, time or a combination of both.

What is charitable planning? It is the way in which you will support the cause or charity that means something to you. You can do this by making periodic, or annual gifts, throughout your lifetime. You can also look ahead to the future, to a time when you may not be able to make these gifts yourself but still want to be able to support the causes you care about. The latter contemplates charitable planning within your estate planning to make sure your charities are supported even in the event of your incapacity or death.

The first step in charitable planning is to choose a charity. You can narrow down options by deciding whether your gift will reflect what you are passionate about, causes that are close to your heart or supporting charities that bring awareness to issues that need it. Support for charities is not only about the dollar amount but also committing to give your time or donating things you no longer need.

Donating money to charities will help the charities continue and give back to the communities they serve. Charitable planning is an important component you should consider not only during your lifetime but also as an integral part of the legacy you will create in your estate plan. By including charitable planning in your estate plan, you create a meaningful example for your family and heirs to follow in their lifetimes as well.