Welcome to the LACGP Newsletter. This e-newsletter is sent out on a monthly basis. The newsletter provides links to this page. Please see below for the items that appeared in the October 2021 issue.

Letter from the President

Can I declare November to be Gift Planner Appreciation Month? I guess I just did…

By Patience Boudreaux, CSPG, CFRE

Did you know that October 18-24 was Estate Planning Awareness Week? Somehow this always sneaks up on me because it comes at the time when I feel like gift planners are at their busiest. We’re helping our donors and clients make the most of IRA rollovers, so they’ve utilized their full RMD to avoid any penalties. We’re ensuring they’ve started the process for the life income gifts to offset their 2021 taxable life events in time to finish before the end of the calendar year. We’re following up with the donors who normally consolidate their giving into the end of the year to ensure they have everything they need to make the gifts that are important to their charities. I feel like the last three months of the year are a sprint in what can often be the marathon pace of gift planning.

Given all the efforts gift planners expend on behalf of their donors, clients, and institutions at this time, I think we should embrace the month of November as Gift Planner Appreciation Month. How does one celebrate such a month, you may ask?

  1. The traditional gift (which I get to pick since I made this up) is chocolate. Feel free to treat your favorite gift planner to a mocha (for the caffeine aficionado) or a Snickers (for the perpetually hangry) or a box of See’s (for the native Californians).
  2. Another way to celebrate Gift Planner Appreciation Month is to make a point to see your favorite gift planner in person… might I suggest you do so at our first in-person event of the year, the general membership meeting taking place on November 18 at the University Club in Pasadena? This is a new venue, but the same great networking and education you’ve come to expect from LACGP. We’ve also cut out the lunch portion of the meeting (in favor of an improved breakfast) so that you can use lunch to either go out with your colleagues or secure a lunch appointment with a client or donor.
  3. You know those people who go all out for Halloween? The ones who start decorating their yards the first day the temperature dips into the 80s? The Gift Planner Appreciation Month enthusiast-equivalent of these folks are those among us who will consider how they can contribute to the knowledge of our community through a presentation idea. Whether it’s sharing lessons learned from a unique/challenging gift, insights into how tax law changes provide new opportunities to help our donors and clients, or you have just really mastered explaining the ins and outs of gift planning fundamentals to those new to our field, there is a place for you as a part of our speaker line-up throughout the year. We welcome you to submit your presentation ideas by emailing them to [email protected].

However you choose to celebrate Gift Planner Appreciation Month, please know that I and everyone on the Los Angeles Council of Charitable Gift Planners Board of Directors are so appreciative of your engagement with LACGP, your advocacy on behalf of your donors, and your collegial spirit throughout the past twenty months. I look forward to giving air-high fives to each of you at the November 18 meeting… and prefer Almond Joys to Snickers in case you’re planning to bring any to the meeting. Thank you for all you do within our professional community!

Cryptocurrency and Nonprofits

By Aaron Levinson

Rarely a day goes by when we don’t see a story in the news about cryptocurrency in this age. Whether Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano or even NFTs, we hear about the development of these currencies and the roller-coaster ride their investors are on. But how and when should nonprofits be involved in this wave?

Since the IRS now treats cryptocurrency as property, investors qualify for an income tax charitable deduction for the fair market value of a donation, up to 30% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) with a five-year carryover. If an investor has held cryptocurrency for more than a year, they also avoid the capital gains tax that they would have paid if they sold it.

An increasing number of nonprofits are accepting donations of cryptocurrency. Companies like The Giving Block and Charitable Solutions, LLC can assist with this process so the nonprofits don’t have to get too deep in the “weeds” of it.

For more information on nonprofits accepting donations of cryptocurrency, check out these excellent blogs:

CGP2021 National Conference: The Highlight Reel

When planning the 2021 national conference and not fully knowing whether in-person events would even be possible, the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (CGP) elected to host both a virtual and an in-person conference. Offering both platforms allowed for more presenters as well as a wider audience that would have otherwise not been able to make the trip to Florida. 

Held towards the end of September, the virtual conference offered keynotes as well as several breakout sessions. One curious nuance of this conference overall was how each and every breakout session correlated to the best practices or “National Standards for Gift Planning Success” listed on CGP’s website (https://charitablegiftplanners.org/nsgps). These best practices have been appropriately categorized to provide gift officers with key tools and benchmarks to help make improvements within their own programs. 

In early October, I was off to Orlando to attend the in-person event. Being from California and not completely sure with how the rest of the nation was responding to the pandemic, I was pleasantly surprised to see some 275 people networking, though respecting the mask mandates, and attending the various sessions. To be sure, the masks could not hold back the broad smiles and the upbeat attitudes that came with attending the in-person conference once again.

While there were many great presenters and subjects alike, the affinity groups were wonderfully practical. I had the opportunity to sit in a few sessions where seasoned professionals, like our own Bill Strickland from the California Community Foundation, David Disend from CARE, Eddie Thompson from Thompson and Associates, or Rebecca Bibleheimer from the Oregon Community Foundation, were not only generous with their own experiences learned in the trenches, they were also wonderful facilitators who opened up great conversations within the rooms. 

The closing keynote was given by Dr. Russell James, who incidentally provides us with the gift planning tutorials each month, and he did not disappoint. Dr. James, who is notorious for providing so much quality information in his presentations and making participants drink from a firehose instead of a water fountain, left me with a key “a ha” thought. The benefit of securing bequest intentions and/or beneficiary designations from younger donors is different than with those who are above the age of 70. 

For those making gift commitments at 70 years and older (this is an approximation), they are processing their need for a more comprehensive estate plan than what they presently might have. Since many are retired by this age and living off of their retirement savings, the need for transferring their wealth takes on a greater level of both interest and complexity, especially if they have income streams from various sources. They are concerned about their own families which have likely grown over the years, and some have reinvented themselves at some point since their retirement. Many have given themselves to greater involvement with their favorite nonprofits and wish to give financial consideration as a part of their overall estate plan.

For those making gift commitments under the age of 70 (also approximate), while end-of-life is considerably far off, they are more inclined to raise their annual giving, especially as they learn more about giving from their assets instead of gifts of cash. According to Dr. James, who has been conducting a longitudinal study for some time, annual giving goes up over $3,000/household/year for those who have made bequest commitments or beneficiary designations to their favorite nonprofits. The study measures up to eight years following the gift commitment, and the data seems conclusive that annual giving stays consistently up for those eight years. 

From a marketing perspective, this opens up a wide amount of possibilities when thinking about these two categories of people. While I still need to process all of the marketing angles, I certainly welcome any comments as to how you might be marketing to both sets of folks. 

The Role of the Board in Planned Giving

By Aaron Levinson

Let’s face it—planned giving can be a huge portion of your organization’s budget. Many nonprofits report that 40% or more of their philanthropic funds come in through planned gifts. Often, though, the Board of Directors keeps an informal “hands-off” policy when it comes to the individual Board members helping the planned giving director (or development director) with identifying and soliciting these gifts. In fact, it’s far too often that members of the Board haven’t even set up their own planned gift.

Diana S. Newman of Benefactor Group writes that the planned giving director (or whoever is responsible for the planned giving portfolio of your organization) should meet individually with each Board member and ask the following four questions:

  • When were you most proud of this organization and why?
  • Have you considered your own planned gift and what will it look like?
  • How can we help you complete the gift and make sure it achieves your goals?
  • What are your suggestions for strengthening our gift planning program?

Further, she suggests having the planned giving director speak at a board meeting about actual case studies of a planned gift affecting the organization to drum up discussion and excitement about the prospect of these donations and how they can affect the bottom line.

The most experienced planned giving professional can be successful without Board involvement, but the more help they receive, the better. Even an introduction to a key donor by a Board member can help the process immensely. Better yet, when a Board member tells that other donor about the planned gift they set up, it can inspire more gifts with very little work on the part of the staff member.

Board members should be a resource for us that we all should take advantage of.