By John M. Campanola Special to The Pineapple As Americans, we can take pride in the fact that we are a nation of givers. In 2012, U.S. households and individuals donated more than $228 billion dollars to non-profit organizations. Still, the recession has taken its toll, and many of us have had to scale back our contributions as a result. In fact, charitable giving has declined by more than $30 billion since 2007 (in inflation-adjusted dollars). Given the uncertain economy, it’s easy to see why many of us are reluctant to part with money that we may need later on. Fortunately, there is a way to support a favorite charity— without having to worry about the impact it could have on our family or lifestyle. It’s called the gift of life insurance, and here are just a few ways to use this proven financial strategy: Donate an existing policy—If you already have a policy and no longer need the death benefit, you can irrevocably transfer ownership of the policy to your desired charity. While the charity will be responsible for any remaining premium payments, they will also receive the full death benefit when you die. List the charity as a beneficiary—As the owner, you remain in control of your policy and can leave money to as many beneficiaries as you like: children, grandchildren—even multiple charities. Or you can name a single charity the sole beneficiary and it will receive the entire amount. Purchase a separate policy—There are times when it makes sense to have separate policies: one for families and friends, and one for charitable gifts. This technique can prove especially helpful if you would like to retain ownership of one policy, but not the other. Create a Charitable Remainder Trust: While this planned giving tool is designed to shelter appreciated assets such as stocks and real estate, it can also incorporate life insurance if set up correctly. Be sure to consult a trust attorney before pursuing this approach. Giving life insurance can be a lasting and recession-proof way to support a worthy cause. And, depending on the method you choose, it may also offer a variety of tax-benefits as well. John M. Campanola is an Agent for New York Life Insurance Company. For additional information on the information or topic(s) discussed, please contact him at 561-212-2903  Brenda Gazzar, Los Angeles Daily News, “Charitable giving on the rise as economy improves,” November 22, 2013.