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 February 2021 issue.

Annual Conference

May 25 - May 27, 2021

If you think back to how you first became aware of LACGP (or PPP-LA or the LAPGRT), for many of you your introduction was through the Western Regional Planned Giving Conference.

This annual event has a reputation for providing one of the best gift planning conference experiences in the nation. Many regional conferences try to squeeze as much content as possible into a single day leading to a sense of information overload which hurts retention and sacrifices peer-to-peer interaction. By spreading our conference out over three days, we have been able to give ideas room to breathe and prioritized the comradery that comes from the networking opportunities built into the schedule. Participants at WRPGC can discuss what they have just heard with each other, commiserate over difficult gift or donor challenges, and seek the insight of those more seasoned in the field. Plus, the Wednesday kick-off evening reception courtesy of Stelter has both the best appetizer spread I have seen at a gathering and the energy of a family reunion.

To no one’s surprise, this year’s conference is going to be a bit different. Our 30th annual WRPGC will be primarily taking place May 25-27 in a virtual format. I say “primarily” because we are embracing this virtual format as an opportunity to present a series of pre-conference sessions included as a part of the conference fee – our “Wisdom Wednesdays.”

The first Wisdom Wednesday on April 21, entitled "Profiles in Philanthropy," is a conversation with the legendary Faye Washington, President & CEO of the YWCA Greater Los Angeles. Washington’s career in public and nonprofit service is a masterclass in business strategy, management, and leadership. Washington’s record of management, personnel administration, legislative and budget policy development, strategic planning, and implementing budgets of over $3 billion in government service created the landscape for her groundbreaking 21-year tenure of leading the YWCA GLA in its mission, including the transformative donation from Mackenzie Scott. Join us as Faye shares valuable lessons from her incredible career, including advice for planned giving professionals to learn more about and support Black-led and Black-serving nonprofits; strategies for planned giving professionals to reach out to BIPOC donors;  learning how to lead with heart and integrity, making big asks, and fulfilling your mission. And this is just the beginning! Our co-chairs, Kimberley Valentine and Carí Jackson Lewis, have worked hard on a line-up of speakers which hold appeal to gift planners and nonprofit leaders outside of fundraising.

Given our past successes, we might be excused for resting on our laurels in the content that has been lined up. Instead, we’re setting a new standard for what thoughtful philanthropic discourse can be. In addition to sessions which provide gift planning fundamentals and explore strategies that take advantage of tax law changes and a financial market that is at historic highs, we will be exploring diversity, equity, access and inclusion through the lens of philanthropy. These panel discussions —  addressing subjects such as corporate philanthropy and CSR responses to current events, planned giving strategies for social impact, and gender-based philanthropy — will explore not just the merits of having a diverse fundraising team in an increasingly diverse world, but how the unique perspectives of diverse donor communities inform their approach to philanthropy. Finally, by the end of the conference, gift planners will learn how to obtain more and bigger gifts and increase their donor base with culturally competent and inclusive strategies for reaching these communities.

While the networking will be more difficult, we are still committed to identifying ways we can help attendees replicate that valuable element of the experience. I encourage you to join me in spending the next several months strategizing about creating your own charcuterie board to better replicate the in-person experience at the Westin South Coast Plaza. Register today to both benefit from our early-bird rate of $300 available through March 15 and be able to attend the entire pre-conference series.

Stewardship Plans

By Patrice Cablayan

Stewardship Plan

  • What pushed you to decide to create a stewardship plan? Were things in that arena just too random for you at the time? We decided to create a plan that would accomplish the following our organization:
    • Memorialize our stewardship plans
    • Serve as a living document that can be easily updated
    • Keep us on track with our stewardship and goals/metrics
    • Serve as a training tool for new staff members
  • Can you describe the stewardship plan?
    • Includes: Recognition, Acknowledgement, Stewardship categories
    • Defines levels of stewardship for our donors commensurate with gifts
    • Acknowledgement levels, e.g., President, VP, Director, Manager
    • Describes stewardship actions, publications, mailings, events for all prospects under management.
    • Includes “Qualified Suspect” and “Suspect” levels
  • How did you implement the plan? 
    • We were already doing the majority of the actions as defined under our plan. We simply put it to paper.
  • What results are you seeing? 
    • Increased responses to our calls
    • Increased donor turnouts at events (now Zoom events)
    • Increased donor engagement
    • Increased
    •  donor visits accepted
    • Initiation from donors checking in on us
  • Would you recommend that any size organization do something similar, or is it really on a case-by-case basis?
    • In all cases a plan helps to guide you and keep you on track. This is a document that can be passed along and improved upon from year to year. 
  • Anything else you feel should be addressed?
    • This plan can be adapted to any office that provides stewardship. Just simply think of the things that you are already doing. Then brainstorm with your team or partner about the things you could be doing. Then put “pen to paper” or in most cases, type up your plan.

Gifts from a Collector... Or How I Learned to Love CGAs

By Cris Lutz

One of the first phone calls I made after being promoted to Planned Giving Director at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, was to Dr. Robert N. Essick, a board member and renowned scholar and collector of the English poet, artist, and visionary William Blake. Kimberley Valentine, my dear friend and predecessor, had told me that Bob was contemplating his third charitable gift annuity (CGA) with The Huntington. That was nine years ago.

Bob is a quintessential Huntington figure: brilliant, kind, and generous in spirit. In the before times (pre-pandemic), he could be seen often at The Huntington in his signature Pendleton flannel and a wide-brimmed hat.

Bob's support of The Huntington includes:

  • High-end annual giving.
  • An intended bequest of his exquisite William Blake collection.
  • A charitable remainder trust that he created in 2006 with real estate he inherited from his late father.

Since that phone call in 2012, Bob has made five more gift annuities, and he brings his scholar's perspective to bear each time he considers establishing an additional CGA: How is the stock market? What are the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA)'s current suggested maximum payout rates? How much should he give in cash or securities to achieve a target charitable deduction amount for his current tax year?

Bob's eight CGAs with The Huntington provide him with fixed income streams throughout his lifetime. Ultimately, these charitable gift annuities will also provide vital unrestricted operating support for The Huntington. "I have been benefiting from research opportunities at The Huntington since 1969. A charitable gift annuity offers an excellent way of saying 'thank you' to an institution that has meant so much to me. It is doubly gratifying to provide long-term financial support for The Huntington, one of our nation's great cultural treasures, and at the same time obtain a steady stream of supplementary income for my retirement years."

While charitable gift annuities are a valuable part of The Huntington's planned giving program, there is an inherent risk involved with providing lifelong gift annuity payments to a donor (i.e., when an annuity contract is signed, the length of the lives of the annuitants is unknown, and investment returns are subject to market volatility over time).

Bob appreciates that The Huntington is among the 97% of organizations nationwide that follow the ACGA's suggested maximum payout rates, which have long been recognized by charities, donors, state insurance departments, and the IRS, as being actuarially sound and in the best interests of all parties involved.

When I joined the board of the ACGA in 2015, Bob was one of the first people I told. "Will there be a press release or announcement about this?" I thought he might be being facetious. His proud smile and congratulations indicated he was serious, and that meant a lot.

2021 in Taxes—What’s New, What’s Old?

By Aaron Levinson

Just a reminder, in case you forgot or lost track of time—we made it through 2020! So now that we’re well into 2021, do you know what has changed and what has stayed the same in tax laws affecting you and your donors?

At least two key provisions of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act were extended into the new year (and, in one case, increased).

First, the universal charitable deduction has not only been extended but actually given an upgrade. Now single filers receive a $300 deduction and married couples filing jointly receive a $600 deduction. This is available to taxpayers who take the standard deduction. This tax incentive is available for cash gifts to qualified charities (but not to supporting organizations or donor advised funds).

Second, contributions to public charities are generally limited to a percentage of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI). The CARES Act lifted the cap on annual contributions for those who itemize, increasing it from 60% to 100% of AGI for 2020 (and now for 2021). Any excess contributions available can be carried over to the next five years. So your donors can receive deductions for even larger gifts than they had in the past. (For corporations, the law raised the annual limit from 10% to 25% of taxable income.)