Maintaining a Focus on Philanthropy

By Steven DeMatteo, UBS

With many people in need of financial and well-being support in Southern California, the country, and entire world, we at Torrey Pines Wealth Management often are asked by our clients how they can make a greater impact. Ultimately, we advise that it’s important to see donations as part of their legacy, as well as a way to mitigate taxes, for things they are passionate about. For the needs that go beyond their own, how do they wish to help improve the lives of others?
Being an effective philanthropist typically involves starting with a personal needs analysis and then considering factors such as:

  • What are my and my family's broad objectives for money we may not need personally?
  • What are the problems or issues we would like to address?
  • How can we identify solutions that work and are cost effective?
  • Do I have the right giving vehicle to maximize my impact?
It’s important to know that this is not a daunting task. By working with a financial advisor and talking with your children and grandchildren once or twice a year, you should be able to quickly identify passions that are important to your family legacy. If your children are fairly young, you could start with doing volunteer work, talking about funds set aside to help the homeless or rescue animals. In my case, for example, my children chose Feeding San Diego as their way to give back. 
There are several options on ways to give, including:
  • Straight bequests – these are gifts identified in a will that will go to the recipient upon the death of the benefactor.
  • Donor advised funds – according to the IRS, these are separately identified funds or accounts that are maintained and operated by a section 501(c)(3) organization, as the sponsoring organization. Each account is composed of contributions made by individual donors. The organization has legal control over contributions. However, the donor retains advisory privileges with respect to the distribution of funds and the investment of assets in the account. It is important to follow the IRS guidelines
  • Private foundations or charitable trusts – for more sophisticated plans, these are set up typically by ultra-high net worth families who want to determine for themselves where all funds will go. Per the IRS, every organization that qualifies for tax exemption as a 501(c)(3) is a private foundation unless it falls into a category specifically excluded from that definition. Certain nonexempt charitable trusts are also treated as private foundations. By law, all private foundations must annually file Form 990-PF, Return of Private Foundation, subject to public disclosure. 
  • Contributions to other funds and foundations – it’s important to make sure you are in alignment with the foundation’s plans and mission. Many people in retirement gift their RMDs (required minimum distributions) or a portion of it directly to a charity from their retirement account, allowing it to not even be considered in tax returns. It becomes a part of any financial wealth management company’s reporting and should be shared knowledge with your CPA or tax accountant. 
US-based programs focus on education, health, the environment, and child protection
At UBS we are proud to be part of a leading financial institution that also has a charitable foundation – the UBS Optimus Foundation – fulfilling our purpose to reimagine the power of investing to connect people for a better world and help clients maximize their impact on the world’s challenges.
Initiated in 1999, the UBS Optimus Foundation is a grant-making, globally-focused organization that offers UBS clients a platform to use their wealth to drive positive social and environmental change. It is the only foundation staffed with philanthropy professionals that is linked to a global wealth manager. With our unique network, we’re taking a leading role in driving impactful philanthropy that delivers breakthrough solutions. We know that solving these problems requires collaborative initiatives to make real impact on a large scale. Collaboration also means connecting our clients together through our UBS Collectives, an innovative social-impact initiative that connects UBS’s philanthropic clients on issues that matter most to them.
We work with diverse partners to develop evidence-based solutions improving health, education, and child protection systems as well as programs tackling environmental and climate issues, all of which are important paths to a sustainable future. With judiciousness as our guide, the UBS Optimus Foundation selects programs that have the potential to be transformative, scalable, and sustainable. In 2022 alone, more than $274 million in donations was raised by the UBS Optimus Foundation and 5.9 million beneficiaries were impacted by our programs. 
UBS Optimus has historically operated in the Southern Hemisphere. However, about four years ago, we began participating in a public-private partnership in Southern California; in cooperation with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, District Attorney Summer Stephan, local philanthropists and corporations, three non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the San Diego educational system, we formed the San Diego Trafficking Prevention Collective. SDTPC brought all these groups together to bring awareness of human trafficking and prevention education to San Diego youth and families. When the pandemic hit and shut down the schools, the SDTPC reworked its programs to deliver education and support online via distance learning. As a result, in the past few years, SDTPC reports more than 7,400 educators from 298 schools have been trained and have engaged more than 20,400 community members and 34,540 students in this end-to-end prevention and education program that aims to protect every student from exploitation.
With this success and the desire of our financial advisors and clients to do even more in the U.S., since Summer 2022, The UBS Optimus Foundation launched a portfolio of eight programs focused on other vulnerable populations in the U.S., specifically geared to focus on education, health, the environment, and child protection. This effort to expand the organization’s reach into the U.S. was supported by U.S.-based UBS Financial Services Inc. Financial Advisors and their clients, and now is available for all clients of UBS worldwide.
If you have any questions about our foundation, the programs available, or how to make a difference through donation, please reach out to me at 

Steven DeMatteo is a Financial Advisor with UBS Financial Services Inc. a subsidiary of UBS AG. Member FINRA/SIPC in San Diego. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investmentsAny information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice.  Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of UBS Financial Services Inc.  Neither UBS Financial Services Inc. nor its employees (including its Financial Advisors) provide tax or legal advice. You should consult with your legal counsel and/or your accountant or tax professional regarding the legal or tax implications of a particular suggestion, strategy or investment, including any estate planning strategies, before you invest or implement.
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