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The Signatry BlogConversations from our thought leaders
The Easter Legacy: The Gifts of Calvary’s Road
Some call it Calvary’s road. And no doubt, we’ll sing songs about it on this Easter Sunday. They’ll be triumphant songs, powerful songs. As I read the scriptures, I cannot help but think of the reality of Calvary’s road: A common criminal was released instead of Jesus.A weak politician, seeking to gain favor, symbolically washed his hands of the false charges, and then he scourged Jesus. A scourging alone could kill a man. He was lead away to the governor’s palace to an entire battalion of soldiers. They stripped Him of his clothes—the cloth tearing at his flesh. They replaced…Read More
The Uncertain Future of Giving
What do you think of the future of charitable giving? The July 2018 Chronicle of Philanthropy reported on the Giving USA annual report for 2017. There, they noted the rise to $410 billion of charitable giving. But their headline speaks of the doubt behind those numbers: Giving Grows for the Fourth Straight Year, but is the Future of Philanthropy Bright? While there is much to celebrate, the Chronicle notes: “…the data reveals some worrying trends.” The article itself didn’t go out of its way to point out those trends in a dramatic way. But here’s the point. Giving by individuals grew modestly. Giving by individuals grew just 3% and bequests by only 1%. To draw out the point, the decline in giving by the War Generations is a reality. At one point, those generations were the backbone of giving, and while the Boomer Generation appears to be following with a similar giving pattern, subsequent generations don’t seem to hold the same promise. The Millennials, for instance, are the least churched generation our country has had. Typically, church attendance is the biggest single predictor of giving. Many of these points were drawn out in Charity Shock: Ten Critical Trends Revolutionizing the Fundraising Industry (2018). Layer on tax law changes, economic and market uncertainty and global trade wars and the situation is ripe for a significant giving downturn. The Chronicle aptly notes: “Pursuing wealthy donors is a matter of survival in a time when fewer people are giving. And big donations seem to be driving growth at many nonprofits…” Additionally, the Chronicle notes “Charities should get serious about seeking planned gifts, given that a huge transfer of wealth is projected over the next decade.” Stated differently, I believe we’ll see a decline of the middle market giver. The middle market giver has often made up the backbone of the budget for many nonprofits. On the other hand, there will be an increasing reliance on the major donor and upon planned gifts. For those ministries who don’t play well in those spaces, they may well face serious declines.Read More
Spring, Basketball, and Taxes
Happy Spring! I love this time of year because the weather is getting warmer, lots of good basketball games, and it is tax time. Yes, I get excited about tax season because we finally find out how year-end tax planning strategies worked. This is especially true because the 2018 tax year applied the new 2017 tax reform laws. Based on the phone calls I have received this Spring; a lot of people are feeling the effects of the changes. Below is a recap of these conversations and some potential solutions moving forward: Doubled Standard Deduction. Only about 10% of all households in the U.S. will itemize their tax deductions for the 2018 tax year. The standard deduction (increased to $24,000 for married and $12,000 for individual), meant that many households that itemized deductions, including charitable giving, will no longer need to itemize. Unfortunately, several households left tax savings on the table, because they failed to plan properly. SALT Deduction Capped. State and local taxes (SALT) used to be fully deductible, but now SALT deductions are now capped at $10,000. This has affected several middle-income earners. Charitable Deduction Increases. Taxpayers that itemize may now deduct up to 60% of their adjusted gross income each year in charitable contributions; a 10% increase from 2017. Taxpayers may carry forward any amount that exceeds this limit up to five years after the gift is made. Taxpayers may still deduct up to 30% of their AGI using gifts non-cash assets to charity. The most noticeable effect of the 2017 tax reform, from a charitable giving standpoint, most households will not receive a tax benefit (in the form of a deduction) from their charitable gifts in 2018. In my opinion, this has occurred because of the increased standard deduction and the cap on the SALT deduction. For 2019, make sure that your clients consider two easy tax-saving strategies: Bunching charitable gifts one year using a donor advised fund. By combining multiple years of charitable giving in 2019, clients will be able to itemize their deductions for 2019. In the subsequent years, the client could give to charity from their DAF and then take the standard deduction for those years. Click here to learn more about bunching. Give assets! While several itemized deductions have been eliminated, the charitable deduction remained intact, including donating capital assets (assets that would be subject to long-term capital gains tax). When capital assets are given the donor receives a fair market value income tax deduction for the donation, and the capital gains that would have been paid will likely be avoided entirely by the charity. The vast majority of all charitable giving in the U.S. are cash gifts, but the real tax benefit is by donating capital assets! Make sure your clients do it!Read More
Key insights into a major donor plan
Ministries have been entrusted with a calling to serve their communities and God’s Kingdom and challenged to fund that work effectively. Major donors, entrusted with God’s resources, are a crucial strategy for any non-profit development effort. All donors play an essential role in ministry support, but nearly 90% of donations come from approximately 10% of donors. Thus, creating a major donor plan is crucial to the success and sustainability of your organization. Do you have a major donor plan? If so, does it include all the key components? Here are a few tips to get started or to evaluate your current efforts. Identify potential major givers. Determining who believes in your mission and who has the capacity to give is a crucial first step. You’ve heard me say before that ministry development is the connection point of God’s work to His resources. Begin your major donor efforts by looking for those with the capacity to give and evaluate their alignment with your mission. A good starting point is to leverage your leadership team and board members. You board may be well connected to individuals who are willing and capable of becoming a major donor. These individuals may include business owners, entrepreneurs, real estate developers, corporate executives, as well as many others. Generous people and potential major donors are all around us. Understand their needs Once you’ve decided who your potential major givers are, learn about them. Get to know their story. What causes do they care about it? If they’ve already given to your cause, why do they give? Listen well. This will set the stage for a conversation that will speak to their interests and how they relate to your needs. Provide a personalized approach Cultivating major donors is a relational investment. Face to face meetings are preferred to phone calls, emails, or letters. In-person meetings show you care and are willing to invest in relationships. This helps you understand what programs a potential giver may align with best and gain insight into what they care about most. Creating a communication strategy that extends past the initial gift will continue to earn their trust and loyalty in the future. Create a clear call to action Don’t forget the ask. Often if an individual is willing to meet, they are prepared to take the next step of giving, but only when there is a clear call to action. When you create a call to action, be very clear where the gift is going. For example, you can say, “Would you being willing to give a gift of X amount of dollars to help us with _____?” You can fill in the blank with the project your organization’s needs. Give a detailed follow-up. Plan how you will personally thank your donor after the gift is received. Once a donor has given an initial gift, follow up by sharing the impact of their contribution. This personalized approach will prove to encourage a long-standing relationship that benefits you and your major donors. Cultivating major donors is a significant endeavor. Remember this is a process; don’t get discouraged. Stay in contact with prospective donors. Perhaps this isn’t the right time for them, but a year later maybe. Remember, this is about relationships, and those take time to build, foster and grow.Read More
Returning to the Lost Vision of Generations
In every age, there are stories that transcend time and culture Such is the story of Abraham. We find him in Genesis 12. His family is first mentioned in Genesis 11. Genesis 1-5 provide the story of Adam and the succeeding generations. The Adam generations are marked by the general mandate: be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. But with little other compass settings by the time of Noah, the chief goal of man appears to be his own self-satisfaction. Stated differently, he lives for himself. And with this self-centeredness, God sets about a grisly plan: the destruction of mankind through flood. Genesis 6-11 are all about this plan, and the new start. In turning the page to Genesis 12, we find an entirely new focus: a single person—Abraham. As if to illustrate that idea, God tells Abraham to leave his family, his kindred and his country behind. It’s a new start. It as if God’s focus is directed entirely towards one man, and placing in that one man a new vision. It’s a vision for generations. Indeed, God tells Abraham “to your offspring I will give this land.” He repeats the vision in Genesis 13: “to your offspring I will give this land forever.” By Genesis 15, God sharpens the vision in one dramatic star-filled night when he tells Abraham that his descendants will be like the innumerable stars of the night sky. By Genesis 22, God tests Abraham to see if he is willing to sacrifice even his treasured son and heir. The vision is repeated with each succeeding generation. And by the time of Moses, the vision is sharpened further still with the Law, a means of communicating a code of conduct for God’s chosen people. The Law would ultimately give way to a Messiah, a redemptive Savior. The vision of generations is marked by these big ideas. The story of God in our lives. A promise of a future place—a promised land. The story of sacrifice—of being willing to let go, to trust and to let God do his work. When these big ideas take root, we are willing to live not just for ourselves but for those yet to come. How do you consider the vision of generations working out in your own life?Read More
Having the Conversation on Asset Giving
Many advisors find that being involved with their client’s giving is one of the most meaningful aspects of their work. Philanthropy is an easy way to build deeper relationships with clients. It not only paves the way for a lasting relationship but offers inroads into the next generation of clients and future givers. When your client is ready for the conversation on giving, discussing their assets will play a vital role in the discussion. The following three points offer an outline that will aid in the conversation. Identify which assets to contribute Whether your client is motivated by philanthropic or tax advantage goals, determining what types of assets they can gift is a crucial first step. The common types of assets that are generally gifted are cash, securities, real estate, or closely held business interest. All of these can be given through a donor advised fund. Timing of gift A recent article in Forbes states, “donating property that has appreciated in value, like stock, can result in a double benefit…not only can you deduct the fair market value of the property (so long as you’ve owned it for at least one year), you will avoid paying capital gains tax” Gift valuation guidelines are established in the current tax regulations. In general, the value of the gift is based on the type of asset and the date of contribution, which is typically the date the asset is delivered to the receiving organization. Gifting a complex asset can be a lengthy process. It is important to evaluate the timing of the gift to ensure it will benefit your client within the current tax year. Selecting a charity Deciding what organizations to support, is usually the most exciting part of the process for your client. For many donors, the organizations they choose often have personal meaning and speak to their experiences. By giving complex assets through The Signatry, donors can make grants to smaller nonprofits that would otherwise be unable to accept complex gifts. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/12/11/14-tips-for-making-your-charitable-gift-tax-deductible-in-2018/#65eb5fb5f80cRead More