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Reflecting on 2019

5 months ago By The Signatry

As we get ready to flip the calendar to 2020, now is a fitting moment to celebrate all the fantastic stories God orchestrated in 2019. We are blessed to serve such a generous community that has grown immensely this year. With that in mind, we wanted to share with you some of our organization’s favorite highlights from this past year. Team. We added ten new team members to The Signatry family in order to continue to reach and serve this community well. A highlight of those new team members included adding representation in Seattle to serve the Northwestern region and…

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Charitable Strategy: The Most Missed Element in Business Sales

7 months ago By Bill High

It happens time and again. While most owners have 80-90% of their assets locked up inside of their business, it’s remarkable how unprepared many of them are at the point of sale. Indeed, at the point of sale the business owner, and the advisory team, should do everything they can to maximize the sale. But many business owners completely miss a key element in the sale process: a charitable strategy. A study by the Exit Planning Institute (EPI) for Georgia in 2018 revealed that historical transition success rates are only 20-30% nationwide. EPI notes that “preparing for a business sale is an urgent imperative,…

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Answering the Call: Ben Bell’s Passion for Serving Ministries

8 months ago By Ben Bell

Prior to joining The Signatry, I was never in a full-time vocational ministry role, although I could consider full-time vocational ministry as “the family business.” My dad’s parents were medical missionaries in China, my dad was a pastor, one uncle was an evangelist, and another aunt and uncle were Korean missionaries. I have several cousins and second cousins who have founded and operate ministries on a full-time basis. Despite several opportunities over the years to move into a full-time vocational ministry role, usually as their COO or CFO, since that was my training and skillset, I never felt called to full-time ministry. I considered myself “in ministry,” but not in a vocational way. I knew my calling was in the secular business world as a Christian witness, and I have always thought being a Christian witness in the secular business world was and is a very noble calling. How were you introduced to The Signatry? In 2018, I got the call to full-time vocational ministry at The Signatry. It followed a long period of soul-searching, reaching out to friends, and seeking the Lord’s guidance before I had ever heard about The Signatry. This period of seeking the Lord extended through my discernment process. I was not seeking to leave the business world. In terms of analyzing the opportunity at The Signatry, I wondered whether I’d enjoy it and if I would be any good at it. It was entirely different from my daily routine, experience, and skillset, so naturally, I had questions. But then the Lord told me to join The Signatry in the clearest way possible – that is all I needed, and all my analysis stopped. I joined the team three weeks later.

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The Time to Sell is Now

9 months ago By The Signatry

You have worked hard to build your business. You have put in the work, stood firm through the tough times, and rejoiced in the triumphs. You have seen your business grow into a thriving, successful organization. Now you are thinking about selling your business, but when is the best time to sell?  The time to sell is now! In their most recent mergers and acquisitions (M&A) Market Update, M&A advisory firm ArkMalibu reported that pricing levels of business sales in Q2 2019 rose to “near-record levels.” ArkMalibu reported businesses selling at an average of 11.2x earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and…

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Using Your Donor Advised Fund for Disaster Relief Efforts

1 year ago By The Signatry

Every year natural disasters affect thousands of people, from devastating storms and tornadoes to wildfires and earthquakes. Victims are often left in need of shelter, food, clean water, electricity, and medical care in addition to the months of clean-up and years it takes to rebuild a devastated community.  You can use the money in your donor advised fund to support disaster relief organizations such as Convoy of Hope, Samaritan’s Purse, American Red Cross, and many others who are constantly at the forefront of disaster relief efforts. These groups assist with immediate needs like food, water, shelter, and many other necessities…

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The Simplicity of A Donor Advised Fund

1 year ago By Ben Bell

Someone who has never opened or used a donor advised fund (DAF) may wonder whether it is similar to opening and using a bank or brokerage account.  Having done both multiple times, opening and using a DAF at The Signatry is much simpler than opening and using accounts at other types of financial institutions. Opening a donor advised fund at The Signatry only takes minutes and can be done online.  No money is required to open a DAF initially, but when the donor is ready to fund their DAF, there are a variety of options available, including eCheck, credit card,…

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The Uncertain Future of Giving

1 year ago By Bill High

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.

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How Donor Advised Funds are Changing the Giving Industry

1 year ago By Bill High

Donor advised funds are making the news. An October 3, 2018, Bloomberg article chronicles their rise. More than half of the top ten charities in the country are donor advised fund sponsors. It is now an industry eclipsing more than $85 billion in assets. The industry has added commercial players like Fidelity, Vanguard and Schwab. Critics contend that these commercial players’ motives are less charitable and more about fees to manage assets. Some even contend that donor advised funds are about stockpiling assets. But in reality, the majority of donor advised fund entities are community foundations or faith-based entities with no commercial motive. They are focused on community good or doing good in general, not money management. By comparison, the private foundation world represents $800 billion in assets compared to the $85 billion in donor advised funds. Private foundations only require a minimum distribution of 5% annually. In contrast, the National Philanthropic Trust in its 2017 report on donor advised funds noted that donor advised funds on average distribute 20% of their assets each year—far beyond what private foundations are required to do. Further, in 1998, the IRS paved the way for S corporations to donate shares to public charities. Prior to that enactment, the majority of contributions were in the form of cash or publicly traded stock. By opening the door for closely held stock to be contributed, the IRS essentially acknowledged the need to tap into one of America’s vast storehouses of wealth. The majority of corporations in the country are closely held. With the aging of the Boomer generation, many of those corporations are for sale. By allowing for the donation of closely held corporations to public charities an entire new stream of charitable giving is being opened up. Donor advised funds have been the leaders in receiving and monetizing those gifts. As their payout rates of 20% attest, the money doesn’t just sit in waiting. In the coming years, as more and more corporations sell, donor advised funds will continue to be the leader in charitable giving.

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Abdiel עבדיאל

1 year ago By Dale Brantner

I absolutely love the story of Joseph in the Hebrew Bible.  This cycle of well-crafted stories, found in Genesis 37-50, close out the tales of legacy that is the heartbeat of Genesis.  The account of Joseph and his family frame how the children of Israel came to be residents of Egypt and sets up the story of their miraculous exodus which is at the center of Jewish legacy to this day. At the core of our culture, at The Signatry, is a commitment to listen to a person’s story, and then serve them within their story.  When we serve others within their story, we are actually serving them within the much larger redemptive story of God and the role He calls them to play.  This is exactly what we see played out through the life of Joseph. The story begins with some dysfunctional family dynamics, including the lack of parity by Jacob towards his sons. We soon find Joseph in Egypt where he is sold to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. It was within Potiphar’s story that Joseph would serve. God blesses him with great success, and Potiphar eventually entrusts Joseph with his entire household, all of his possessions and agricultural ventures.  Everything went extremely well for Joseph as he served Potiphar right up until he was framed and thrown into prison.  While in prison, Joseph would find himself serving Pharaoh’s cupbearer and chief baker within their own stories, this would, in turn, bring Joseph into the direct service of Pharaoh. Joseph was given the opportunity to listen to the dreams and concerns of Pharaoh and serve within Pharaoh’s story. Pharaoh would make this foreign Hebrew slave and ex-convict the “vizier” of Egypt. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck. Genesis 41:41-42 God used Joseph’s ability to listen and serve within the stories of others, to position him next to the most powerful man of his day. This platform would later prove to be the salvation of his father Jacob’s legacy … his descendants.  

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