Planned gifts are sometimes referred to as “stop-and-think” gifts because they require some planning and, more often than not, some help from professional advisors. A planned gift can be made with almost anything: cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate—even property/collectibles such as artwork and books. Donors can make these gifts through their will or trust, life insurance, bequests and beneficiary proceeds, charitable remainder trusts and gift annuities. “Planned giving is the strategy of aligning your philanthropic vision and values to a deliverable process,” explains Thomas W. Evans, CFP®, MS-PFP, senior advisor with JNBA. “It enables a donor to enact a gifting strategy that provides both a personal and monetary benefit to the donor and selected organization.”
The goal, he says, is to fully understand how a client’s giving can benefit existing and legacy goals. “At JNBA, we act as the chief of staff, coordinating our client’s strategy by integrating the tax and estate professionals with our clients.”
The reasons people give are as varying as the individuals themselves. Donating can be an excellent income or estate tax planning strategy, providing tax benefits and/or income for life. Some give because they want to join with others for the common good or call attention to an issue. Many want to improve the quality of life for future generations.
Planned giving encourages the planning process and benefits all who are concerned by providing valuable information, encouraging visits to professional advisors, and promoting action. Family values can be transferred along with the transfer of wealth, creating a new generation of donors.
For example, generous grandparents can teach their children and grandchildren about organizations that matter to them, the family can become involved as income recipients of various deferred gift plans, and family members can become inspired to take action through an endowment fund bearing the name of a loved one.
How do you determine the right charity? One solution is to consider the unique value of community foundations—a resource that allows donors to give to a number of charities. A community foundation allows people to be charitable in a personal and meaningful way. Donating through a foundation offers tax advantages (community foundations are public charities supported by donors from across the community), simplicity, and planning expertise.
Donors who support nonprofit organizations help to build a better future for everyone.Minnesota’s Nongame Wildlife Program works to protect Minnesota’s 500 species of wildlife. Funds have helped protect the loon (more at risk now than ever before with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico), bald eagle, trumpeter swan, Eastern bluebird, Peregrine falcon, and osprey. Donors can designate the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program as a beneficiary when doing estate planning, or write in a tax-deductible donation on the checkoff part of their tax form (the line with the loon symbol). In the midst of a national economic crisis, the needs of Minnesota’s wildlife and land depend more than ever on all partners contributing what they can.
According to the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, a donor should follow these steps in order to make a difference in the community:
1. Select the advisor you plan to work with.
2. Choose the charitable organization or foundation to which you’d like to provide your gift.
3. Determine the amount of the gift.
4. Decide when you’d like to make the gift.
5. Choose the type of property and type of planned gift you’d like to make, with a focus on tax benefits as well as minimal impact on you and your beneficiaries. According to Evans with JNBA, it is often more advantageous to gift stock or real property instead of cash. One tax effective method is to gift highly appreciated stock, mutual funds, or property. By gifting the highly appreciated asset, the donor is avoiding realizing the capital gain for tax purposes yet receiving the full fair market value of the asset as a charitable deduction, subject to income limitations.
In addition to cash or portfolio assets, time and experience are two valuable gifts people can donate to an organization. “Procrastination is a silent enemy,” Evans says. “Get involved. The only one holding you back is yourself.”