News & Events

Image Nonprofit News: September 2023

How legacy giving helps you plan for your organization’s future 

You and your team are well aware that bequests to your organization can make a huge difference to your bottom line. With the average size of a bequest reported to total more than $78,000, it’s easy to see how the numbers can add up quickly.

Still, focusing on legacy giving is hard. You and your team are busy with annual campaigns, fundraising events, and major gifts. Fitting in a conversation about planned gifts sometimes seems impossible! 

The key is to break it down and make it easy. Here are tips to help streamline your efforts to secure future support for your organization.

First, start by taking a look at all of your marketing materials to be sure you have at least mentioned the opportunity for legacy giving somewhere on each marketing asset.The same goes for printed materials and one-pagers. Similarly, every email newsletter to your donor base should include at least a very small section at the bottom to remind donors that they can leave a meaningful legacy to your organization through gift in their will or trust. Another key marketing piece is the annual appeal letter. Even though you are asking for a current gift, don’t forget to mention that you’re always open to a discussion about legacy giving. And if you need some help getting the language just right, reach out our team at ACF. We are happy to help.

Second, talk with your major gift donors about the importance of your reserves to the organization’s ability to weather the ups and downs of the market and community needs. Sometimes donors don’t think about the “business” side of nonprofits. 

Third, share stories with donors about other people (with their permission, of course) who have given legacy gifts and how those gifts have made a significant difference in your organization’s ability to serve its constituents. Keep an eye out for eye-catching mainstream news articles about charitable giving that you can post on your social media channels or mention to donors in a meeting. 

Finally, if you have donors who have reached an impasse in their planning or who are trying to accomplish multiple goals for impact, please use ACF as a resource. Our wholistic legacy planning process provides an opportunity for donors to create a plan that includes all of the organizations and causes they wish to support in Arlington and beyond. Through our self-guided workbook and facilitated meetings, we help donors design legacy plans that reflect their values and that express how they wish to be remembered.

We look forward to working with you to help you develop a reservoir of future support for your organization! The community foundation is committed to your success and to philanthropy’s ability to improve the quality of life in our region through the outstanding nonprofit organizations delivering services to people who need it most. Thank you for all you do.

Conversation starters: When tax reform is on your donors’ minds 

Changes to the tax laws always seem to be in the news in some way, shape, or form. And it’s hard to tell which provisions will ultimately become law and which ideas will simply fade away. Still, it is important to your fundraising efforts to stay on top of the proposals so that you are in tune with what your donors may be evaluating as they meet with their tax and estate planning advisors. 

For example, many high net-worth individuals and families are paying especially close attention to rumblings that a “wealth tax” may be on the horizon, which could mean that your donors will be even more open to tax planning and charitable giving discussions than they’ve been in recent years. While there is certainly no guarantee that this legislation (or any pending legislation, for that matter), will become law, the very existence of the discussion in Congressional circles alone can create opportunities for your organization and its donors.

Other tax law changes are swirling, too, making the next several months an unusually strong window of opportunity for donor engagement. Here are a few examples of tax law changes on the horizon, simply to give you a taste of what’s going on as you plan conversations with donors:   

A version of the 2024 Federal budget proposes an increase in the top income tax rate from 37% to 39.6% 

The IRS will step up efforts to enforce taxes, especially focused on high-income earners

The estate tax exemption is slated to drop significantly at the end of 2025, which means a greater percentage of estates will be subject to tax

Also in the mix is an expansion of the Net Investment Income Tax, such that it will affect more people

A bonus, perhaps (?!?), is that the IRS will no longer make unannounced house calls!

… and the list goes on. 

Remember, you do not need to be an expert on tax law, and you do not need to know the details. You simply need to know that changes are coming, and your high net-worth donors and their advisors are watching carefully! 

Here are a few suggestions for opening up a dialogue with a donor using tax reform as a springboard:

We are always trying to better understand what our donors are thinking about how changes in the tax laws will affect their giving. What changes are you keeping your eye on these days?

“I’d be curious to know what your advisors are saying about all of the changes coming to the tax laws. Next time you meet with them, you might ask them how increasing your charitable giving could help offset the impact of the new laws on your finances.”

“All of this talk about tax reform, especially changes coming to the estate and gift tax, has prompted many donors to take a look at their wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations to ensure that their charitable provisions are intact and working the way they intend. That’s something worth considering discussing with your attorney, especially as we continue to talk about your potential legacy gift to our organization.”

We enjoy brainstorming conversation starters to help you engage in productive dialogue with your donors–whether or not tax reform is on the horizon, and especially when it is! This is a perfect time to step up your endowment-building efforts. 

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