The Different Types of Charitable Giving

When the phrase “charitable giving” comes to mind, we often think of numbers and dollar signs first. That doesn’t need to always be the case—there are many different types of charitable giving you can choose. Here are some of those different options if you’re looking to be creative with your generosity or with your appeals to donors.


Donating various tangible items is one way to go. This can range from bulk items such as wholesale crossbody bags donated to a homeless shelter to canned soups given to a local food bank. However, an item many people don’t think of donating is their vehicle. If you have an old or little-used car, donating it is an impactful option. You can improve your car and sell it to support an organization or sell it as-is below market value to people in need of a vehicle. Be aware though, giving your car can be, depending on the organization you choose, less effective than other donation options.

Real Estate

You can also donate your real estate holdings to a charitable organization. If you write the gift into your will, this effectively lowers the value of your total estate and thus decreases the estate tax that would be due. Donating a property could fill a charity’s need or give them substantial funds upon its sale. If you don’t have available funds or tangibles, but you happen to own property that could be of use, consider finding a charity that accepts real estate donations.


One of the hardest things for charities to “buy” is people’s time spent serving their cause. Money fills so many needs, but hiring and retaining employees while drawing in volunteers is an obstacle every organization faces. For this reason, choose to give your Saturdays to a local shelter or agency that you want to invest in. Or better yet, bring up the idea of Volunteer Time Off (VTO) to your company. VTO is a benefit that allows employees to volunteer during a weekday and get paid for serving. If you’re in charge of a charity and looking to attract more people, market this idea to businesses and form a partnership.

Donor-Advised Fund

While the different types of charitable giving include giving money, you can strategically use a Donor-Advised Fund (DFA) to keep control over your gift’s use. A DFA is a charitable giving account sponsored by an organization that allows donors input after they donate funds. If you care about what a charity is doing and even understand some of the practical details of the cause, consider this option for monetary giving. This allows you to know if the charity uses your money effectively, as it’s like starting your own foundation minus the initial headaches involved.

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