“You see it all around you, good (planned) givin’ gone bad….”

20 12 2012

WillWell that is a (admittedly bad) paraphrase of the .38 Special song Hold on Loosely and it is an important issue as many people are working hard to find creative gift solutions. I have heard discussions suggesting that the 90s were the golden era of planned giving, whether that’s true or not I don’t know. What I do know is many people are working harder than ever to make gifts happen and occasionally a good gift goes bad.

I had the good fortune or misfortune (depending on perspective) to have to steward a charitable gift annuity several years ago. The gift had not been well conceived by the organization and as a result, the charitable remainder that would exist for charity would have been surprisingly small – within IRS guidelines, but small. That donor’s words have echoed in my mind ever since “why didn’t they tell me….I would have just given them the money”.

We need to make sure that first and foremost we are honoring our donor’s charitable intent. To do that and be good stewards we should do the following:

1) Expectations – Ensure that the gift meets the donor’s expectations which should include final impact, financial comfort, and timing (e.g. a deferred gift that won’t be realized for 30+ years when they hope to see their money at work).

2) Knowledge – While you are NOT the donor’s financial advisor, you should have a strong understanding of the actual vehicles you are suggesting.

3) Good Business – The financial arrangement should be good for your institution and the beneficiaries of your work. These include no undue financial burdens, risks, or long term commitments.

Planned giving remains an important tool for philanthropy, but with low interest rates, various commercial gimmicks, and some prospective donors with no charitable intent it is important to be vigilant. We need to be able to ensure it is good for our donors, organizations, and our community.
Good Luck!

Mark J. Marshall




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