Planned Giving: Leave a Lasting Legacy

    “The miracle is this — the more we share, the more we have.” <div style="page-break-after: always"><span style="display: none;"> </span></div> –Leonard Nimoy


    How will you be remembered one day?

    How important is it to you to leave a legacy of kindness that will benefit the lives of others?

    We are building a legacy—a legacy of what we believe in—every day we are alive. How we respond to life’s challenges show our significant other, our kids, our friends, our neighbors, and our community who we are and what we stand for. 

    Planned giving, as it factors into estate planning, is a tangible way to look at our life and our legacy not only in terms of relationships, but also in terms of wealth, possessions, and property. It is a way of reviewing how we can best give to the greater social good.

    “Charitable giving is all about the passion to make a difference,” explains Jordan Boss, director of foundation relations and operations, National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY). “No matter the mission, the driving force behind a donor making a decision to give is the desire to change—for the better—a person, a place, a process. It is deeply personal. There are so many outstanding nonprofits that do wonderful and important work, a donor has a lot of choices in where to invest. Ultimately, something, or someone, connects them to the mission.”

    How to Give


    Planned giving has the power to sustain nonprofit organizations with guaranteed revenue streams while providing valuable peace of mind to the donor. It’s a way of transforming personal wealth into philanthropy.

    Sometimes referred to as “stop and think gifts” because they require some advance planning (who do you want to support?); they are basically any method of charitable giving other than getting out your checkbook. A planned gift can be made with cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate—even property/collectibles such as artwork and books. They can be put into place during your lifetime or after your death. 

    Most of the planned-giving money that supports charities comes from bequests in wills. Some donors, though, are reluctant to make a bequest because they want to ensure they leave enough money to their children, grandchildren, and other loved ones after they’re gone.

    Depending on current tax laws, however, leaving a gift to charity might actually benefit your family by reducing the estate tax burden (although avoiding estate taxes shouldn’t be the only reason to make a planned gift). 

    Other planned giving tools include charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, or non-cash assets. 

    Your financial planner can help you determine the most effective way to protect your assets, provide for your family, and guarantee you income for life. 

    Community Resources

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of choosing the “right” charity, consider the unique value of community foundations—a resource that allows donors to give to a number of charities. Community foundations are created by and for the people in a local area, a sort of savings account for the entire community’s benefit. They allow 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.

    “We make it easy to support the issues you care about, while allowing the organizations you support to stay relevant as community needs and opportunities change,” explains Robyn Schein with The Minneapolis Foundation. 

    There are also a number of websites that evaluate nonprofit organizations based on different criteria. Two of the more popular ones are Guidestar ( and Charity Navigator ( 

    Making a Difference


    Donors who support nonprofit organizations help to build a better future for everyone. 

    At NAEHCY—the only national organization advocating for educational excellence for homeless children and youth—the nonprofit wouldn’t be able to do the work they do without donor support. “From the baby born in a homeless shelter, to the kindergarten boy who moves from school to school as his family searches for affordable housing, to the young woman striving to gain her college degree after years of living on the streets, we are here to give them a voice and to ensure they receive the education they deserve,” says Boss. “Education is their hope.”

    At Second Harvest Heartland, with a mission to end hunger through community partnerships, 92 percent of revenue sources come from donations, both food and financial, and 96 percent of every dollar received goes directly to collecting and moving food to hungry neighbors. 

    Theresa McCormick, engagement officer at Second Harvest Heartland, says people make gifts not only because it’s the “right thing to do,” but also because of the impact they can make with their gifts.

    “For every $1 donated to Second Harvest Heartland, [we] can distribute $8 worth of food,” she says. “Knowing their donations stretch so far resonates with people.”

    At the United Way, all of their annual budget comes from donor support. The focus is on improving lives and community conditions by bringing people and resources together to focus on the local issues that matter most. They operate by the philosophy that “together, united, we accomplish far more than any individual or single agency could achieve alone.” Their strategy is to locate and mobilize resources and align them for impact.  

    “Our investment income is actually a return on donor endowment dollars over a period of time through distributions reinvested into the community,” explains Kittie Fahey, United Way director of major gifts.

    It is estimated that $20 trillion will be transferred intergenerationally between 2000 and 2020, she says, with legacy gifts creating a meaningful impact.  

    No matter which local charity or cause you choose to support now and in the future, know that you’re making a difference. Giving—of your time, talent, or resources—is the ticket to changing the world. 

    *Support all of your favorite Minnesota charities on Give to the Max Day. For more information, visit

    **For an online calendar of charitable events, visit

    Tools for Planned Giving

    Charitable bequest: A distribution from your estate to a charitable organization through your last will or testament.  

    Charitable gift annuities: A charitable gift annuity can provide you with an income stream, significant tax savings, and higher rate of return than what can often be achieved elsewhere. Basically, you give the charity a lump sum of money and the charity promises to pay you a fixed amount of money for the rest of your life. 

    Charitable remainder trusts: You contribute a sum of money (or property) to the trust and retain the right to receive an annuity amount for the remainder of your life (or for a specified term of years). At death, the remaining assets are passed to charity.

    Charitable lead trusts: You determine gifts to a nonprofit for a specified period of time and, in turn, either receive a charitable deduction now for gifts made in subsequent years or a reduction in gift or estate taxes on property.   

    Non-cash assets: Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, CDs, property, etc.