Warner’s playbook: Smarter ways to give

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USA/Scott McDermott

Former National Football League quarterback Kurt Warner has made charitable giving a big part of his retirement, but you don’t need a star athlete’s income to follow his game plan.

Warner, who is the host of USA Network’s reality show “The Moment,” says making conservative investments has allowed him to build a nest egg and still give generously. He adds that a cautious approach to evaluating charities helps to ensure more bang for your donated buck, regardless of the amount that you can afford to donate.

Warner says he learned that the first thing that you should do when it comes to donating to a diversified charity that has many causes is to specify how you want your money to be used. Don’t assume that the charity automatically will do it. (You should know that each United Way chapter, for example, might charge a fee if you specify a cause, which reduces your donation’s effect. You should check your charity’s website to see whether it imposes such a fee.)

Warner says he seeks charities that work with other organizations to accomplish tasks, because that stretches your donation dollars. He’s seen such partnerships work for his own charitable foundation. They produce lower overhead costs, which means that more dollars go toward the actual cause. (For more about charities, see “Using Your Head and Your Heart” at ConsumersDigest.com.)

When it comes to his own finances, the low-risk mutual funds in which he invests keeps his portfolio diversified.