There are plenty of ways that doctors can give back to the community beyond their day to day work. Donating to charity, either as an individual or through your business/practice, is a fantastic way to make a positive impact in a field you’re passionate about.
With a significantly higher income, you may have the capacity to make a real difference in your community. But whether you seek out a charity, or you’re approached by a charity, there’s a lot more to it then just handing over a cheque.
Here’s everything doctors need to consider to safely and effectively donate to charities in Australia.
Follow your passions
With so many causes and charities to consider, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. So, there’s no better choice than following your passions and choosing a cause that you strongly believe in and value, whether or not it’s related to the medical industry.
Make sure the charity is legitimate
You should dedicate plenty of time to validate the charity and its activities.
The best way to validate a charity is to search the ACNC Charity Register, which is a free online database of registered charities. The Charity Register is designed to improve transparency, trust and confidence in the charity.
Plus, remember to follow the basic rules if you’re approached online or via email for donations: don’t click any unknown links in emails, don’t give out your information unless you’re certain it’s the real deal, and don’t feel pressured into making a donation. Even the most reputable charities are susceptible to scammers and fake campaigns, so always do your due diligence.
If you’re approached in person, don’t be afraid to ask for identification and evidence of authority from the individual or the charity itself.
Research how the money is used
Do your own research to ensure your money is being put to good use. Look at what exactly the money is spent on, what the charity’s services are, and how long it takes for the money to be used. The charity’s website should provide resources such as annual reports, financial reports and mission statements which answer all of these questions and more.
Beyond the charity itself, reach out to your networks and explore online or social media for posts, reviews and comments about the charity. It’s also worth looking at any recent news articles – good or bad will give you an instant indication on whether it’s the best choice for you.
Make it work from a tax perspective
Depending on which charity you donate to, you may be able to claim your donations as tax deductions. This is especially important for doctors who are typically in the highest tax brackets. Certain charities, known as Deductible Gift Recipients (DGRs), will allow you as the donor to claim a deduction on your gift, as long as it’s over the value of $2.
The donation must be voluntarily without any benefit in return, and in the form of money, property or shares. You must also ensure any other conditions specific to your charity are fulfilled. To claim this deduction, you must keep documentation as proof, such as a receipt.
To check whether your chosen charity is a DGR, you can look on the ABN Look-Up: Deductible gift recipients.
Should you set up your own charity?
If you are extremely passionate and looking to do impactful work on a larger scale, you may want to consider starting your own project or charitable foundation.
But before you establish your own, research what’s already out there and if there are similar charities to your idea. If your area of interest is already covered, you could try teaming up with the charity or conducting a project through their name.
If you still want to proceed with your charity idea, next step is to decide what you want to achieve and how. What sort of services, programs and fundraising initiatives will you undertake? Is this a once-off project or a long-term commitment? Remember, setting up your own charity is a much greater commitment than a one-time donation. You will have to get advice about the best organisation structure for your needs. The charity will have ongoing costs and a large demand on funds, resources, assets and time. Depending on the scale of your charity, you may also need staff, volunteers and marketing support. So, it is clear that you need to review your strategy and goals to ensure you can afford to take on this task without jeopardising your personal resources, life savings, retirement plan or general wellbeing.
It is clear that every doctor needs a strategy when it comes to maximising charitable work. Talk to a specialised medical accountant and wealth expert about how you can donate in the most effective and impactful way possible, for everyone.
Contact DocWealth, specialists in accounting, financial planning, investment and finance, investment and business for medical professionals. We operate in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and throughout Australia. Managing partner Kym Nitschke is available for a free initial discussion about your situation. Call us on (08) 8379 9950 or send me an email.
– Kym Nitschke
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