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Give While You Live

Dan Haylett

MANY FOLKS DELAY financial gifts to family and charity until their death. But I advocate a different approach: giving generously during our lifetime, or what I like to call “giving with a warm heart, not a cold hand.”

This not only transforms the lives of the recipients, but also enriches those who give, making their lives more meaningful and fulfilling.

One of the most compelling reasons to give during your lifetime: You get to see the impact of your generosity. Unlike bequests and end-of-life giving, donating while you’re alive lets you witness how your contributions help family, change lives, support communities or drive progress in causes you’re passionate about. This immediate feedback can be incredibly rewarding and can even guide further giving, shaping it so it has greater impact.

Giving also fosters connections with those you’re helping. Whether it’s through charitable organizations, community projects or individual support, you become part of a story of change and improvement. These connections can deepen your understanding of the lives of others and build bridges across communities.

On top of these emotional benefits come financial advantages. By strategically donating, you can enjoy tax benefits while still alive, potentially allowing you to give even more. Charitable donations can be tax-deductible and are immediately removed from your estate, providing a financial incentive to give now rather than later.

For those with substantial wealth or a deep desire to give back, setting up a charitable trust or foundation can be a way to manage how your assets are used for good, ensuring a lasting impact that reflects your personal values and goals.

Still, while the financial benefits can be significant, giving will always leave you with less money than before. So why give? I believe the greatest benefits are psychological.

There’s a profound sense of joy and fulfilment that comes from giving. Studies have shown that altruism not only benefits the receiver, but also significantly boosts the happiness and health of the giver. This phenomenon, often referred to as the “helper’s high,” arises from contributing to the well-being of others, reinforcing the concept that generosity is as good for the giver as it is for the recipient.

Giving now also allows you to craft and witness your legacy in real time. This can be particularly meaningful for those who want to ensure that their wealth is doing good according to their principles and vision. It’s a way to shape how you’re remembered, not just in terms of wealth, but in the values you championed and the differences you made.

For those who have accumulated “more than enough,” there’s a growing debate about the moral responsibilities that come with it. By choosing to distribute wealth throughout your life, you’re actively participating in reducing inequality and addressing immediate needs, rather than hoarding resources until after death.

Giving with a warm heart, not a cold hand, isn’t just a philanthropic strategy. It’s also a lifestyle choice that can enrich the giver’s life immeasurably. It breaks the traditional mold of wealth distribution, encourages active engagement in societal improvement, and brings a host of emotional, psychological and financial benefits.

By choosing to give now, you aren’t just investing in others. You’re also investing in a richer, more fulfilling life experience for yourself. So, why wait? The time to make a difference is now, with a warm heart that truly feels the joy of giving.

Dan Haylett is a financial planner and head of growth at TFP Financial Planning, a U.K. firm that specializes in modern-day retirement planning. Dan’s “pull back the duvet every morning” purpose is helping clients spend their time and money on what’s truly important to them. A version of the above article first appeared on Dan’s website, where you can also learn about his Humans vs. Retirement podcast. Follow him on X (Twitter) @DanHaylett. Dan’s previous articles were Seven Reasons to Work and The Changes Ahead.

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