Nan Stone ShiltsI‘ve given to Walnut Hill over the years because the school provided a solid education and good friends for me in the 1950s and in the years since has turned itself into a vibrant environment for creative young people. But, for me, giving has always tended to be spontaneous and willy-nilly, an exercise of the heart, not of the budget. I’d be smitten by an appeal, write a check, send it off, feel a little glow, and then deal with the mess of paperwork at tax time. Several years ago when my tax advisor first mentioned the tax benefits of making charitable contributions directly from my IRA, that didn’t sound like me —  too complicated, too impersonal, too much planning, couldn’t be that much of a tax savings.

But when I finally took her advice I discovered that donating from my IRA is surprisingly simple and in no way diminishes the fun of giving. I don’t miss the money because it was never in my cash account to begin with. Walnut Hill writes a nice thank you note. The little glow is still there.