Maximize Philanthropic Assets for Legacy Giving

Tags: Federation, PR, legacy

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Article reprinted with permission from the Cleveland Jewish News.


Carol Wolf

Carol Wolf

I guess I’m old-fashioned. I still look forward to getting the mail every day. The occasional invitation or thank-you note is a pleasant surprise among the pile of bills, junk mail and advertising.

Soon, there will be much more – the abundant solicitations by charities, some of which I haven’t even heard of or supported before. These letters fill our mailboxes at this time of year for a reason. The last quarter of the year, and especially December, is the most popular time for people to think about making donations as they begin to think about tax planning.

True philanthropic planning is much more than answering a request for a current gift, usually paid by check or credit card. But why wait to create a lasting legacy with a bequest? If done strategically, current giving, no matter what time of year it occurs, can result in the creation of a meaningful, lasting legacy gift. Here’s how you can turn your current assets into something that will improve lives beyond this year and your lifetime.

The stock market is at an all-time high, but can change at any time. The time is now to review your investment portfolio. You may have stock that has significantly increased in value. If you have appreciated securities that you have owned for more than one year, it may be advantageous to consider donating them to a charitable organization rather than selling or holding them longer.

To realize potential tax benefits in 2017, you must make this donation before Dec. 31. This type of donation may be used for an annual gift, but using appreciated securities usually allows the donor to make much larger gifts than he or she might have imagined. These assets are often perfect for endowing an annual gift or to create a special purpose fund. You may add to the fund whenever you wish.

Appreciated securities may also be used to create a donor-advised fund. Fund advisers retain the privilege to recommend grants to the charities of their choice (with some restrictions) at any time. Donors receive a tax deduction at the time of the original donation to the fund. The fund earns income which can be used to make grants recommended by the advisor.

Individuals who are 70½ or older have an additional opportunity to donate up to $100,000 directly from their IRAs or other retirement plans to qualified charities (donor-advised funds are excluded). As an alternative to taking the required minimum distribution, and likely increasing income tax liability, this asset can create your legacy with a named endowment fund that will support the future.

Most philanthropic people give to several, even dozens of charities each year. But when it comes to testamentary or endowment gifts, commitments are fewer and larger. With careful planning and consideration of all of your assets – and, of course, consulting your financial advisers, you can create a meaningful and lasting legacy.

Carol Wolf is the managing director of planned giving and endowments at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. She can be reached at cwolf@jcfcleve.org or 216-593-2805.

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