Posts tagged ‘CGA’

April 14, 2020

10 Fundraising Strategies for Complex & Major Gifts During COVID-19

The following guest blog post is from philanthropy researcher Russell N. James III, JD, PhD, CFP®. He originally posted it on LinkedIn, and I’m reposting it here with Russell’s kind permission. I’m reposting the piece because of the enormous importance of the subject and the valuable information it contains.

Engaging donors in planned-giving conversations is still possible during the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Russell and I shared our FREE whitepaper “Legacy Giving: The Best of Times or the Worst of Times?” Now, I want to share Russell’s 10 charitable planning strategies you should keep in mind when seeking complex and major gifts during these challenging times:

 

The market went down. A lot. The economy is temporarily frozen. Unemployment may increase dramatically. In the past, all of these things have been bad for charitable giving. We can’t control that. So, what can we control? What strategies make sense for fundraising, in particular for complex and major gifts?

Here are ten charitable planning concepts to keep in mind.

1.    Crisis is the time to show support

A social/friendship/family relationship encourages sharing. A transactional/market/exchange relationship does not. We see this in fundraising experiments where family language (simple words and stories) consistently outperforms formal language (technical words and contract language). One of the defining moments that identifies a friendship relationship, rather than a transactional relationship, is during a crisis.

In our personal lives, we know this. When you might be in trouble, a good friend is one who reaches out to help. A friend visits you in the hospital. A friend comes to the funeral with you. A friend listens whenever trouble strikes. In time of crisis, reaching out with concern, help, or even a relevant gift reinforces this social/friendship/family type of relationship.

Ideally, the first contact with donors in a time such as this should begin with concern. Are you OK? Do you need anything? Can we help? Later, we can return to the typical donor-charity dynamic. (If you represent a cause related to public health or COVID-related assistance, that return may happen more quickly.) But, first we want to show friendship-like support during a time of crisis.

2.    The first giving conversations should be with DAF-holders

Requests made to donors with funded Donor Advised Funds will be successful earlier than requests made to others. During times of downturn and uncertainty, people are more likely to hold tightly to their wealth. This drives down charitable giving. But distributing funds already in a DAF doesn’t affect personal financial security.

During the last major economic downturn, many private foundations temporarily increased their distributions to help soften the blow for their grantees. The same reasoning can apply to individual donors who have already funded their DAFs. Due to tax planning strategies, many may have placed multiple years’ worth of future expected donations into a DAF. Given the current crisis, it makes sense to consider this as a time to empty those accounts earlier than originally planned.

3.    One-time special requests work, but be careful with a crisis

In fundraising experiments, people are more willing to donate in response to a special, one-time need than for ongoing needs. An appeal for one-time needs that arise as a result of the current turbulence may be particularly effective. In experiments, people respond more to appeals during a time of crisis. We are all sharing this experience together. We can work together to help overcome the effects of this hit.

However, it is important in such appeals to identify the crisis as a crisis for beneficiaries or for the cause, but not an organizational crisis. Projecting organizational instability might help get the $50 gift today, but it will come at the cost of the major donation later down the road. Major philanthropic investments don’t go to unstable organizations.

4.    Use planned gifts as your “Plan B”

During times of downturn and uncertainty, people are more likely to hold tightly to their wealth. Planned giving opportunities can help “lean into” this uncertainty.

Estate gifts take place only after the donor no longer needs the money personally. They can also be revocable. They can be a percentage of the estate, and thus can vary in size with financial ups and downs. These percentage gifts are actually much better for charities because they usually end up being much larger. (Fixed dollar gifts tend not to get updated for inflation.)

Irrevocable planned gifts can also help with financial uncertainty. These typically give the donor lifetime income or lifetime use of the donated property. Thus, the gift can be made while still protecting the financial security of the donor.

If a donor needs to back away from a commitment or feels that a future ask is too daunting, consider planned gifts as a “Plan B”. A response to such a refusal might include revocable or irrevocable planned gift options.

I certainly understand your concerns. I know others in your same situation who have decided to move their commitment into an estate gift instead. This provides flexibility with no upfront cost. There are even ways to do it that provide tax benefits. Would you be interested in learning more about these options?”

[This is followed by discussion of: 1) Gift in a will. 2) Beneficiary designation on an IRA/401(k), avoiding income taxes that heirs would otherwise have to pay. 3) Retained life estate, creating an immediate income tax deduction, discussed below.]

I certainly understand your concerns. I know others like you who have decided instead to make a gift that gives them lifetime income. With interest rates being so low and the market being so volatile, many people like the fixed payments coming from a charitable gift annuity. Would you like to learn more about this?”

5.    A charitable gift annuity as a two-stage gift

For those representing stable institutions offering Charitable Gift Annuities (CGAs), this may become a particularly attractive gift. A CGA usually trades a gift for annual lifetime payments to the donor (or donor and spouse). During times of uncertainty, the guarantee of fixed payments from a stable institution can be attractive. Following the last dramatic drop in the market in 2008, some large, stable organizations reported receiving exceptionally large CGAs. These very large gifts would normally have been structured as a Charitable Remainder Trust. But during extreme volatility, donors instead preferred the certainty and stability of payments guaranteed by the organization rather than payments tied to investment returns.

A charitable gift annuity can sometimes be presented as a two-stage alternative when uncertainty prevents a normal gift from being made.

I certainly understand your concerns. Another donor like you was in your same situation and she decided to protect against all this volatility by making the gift in two stages. First, she made a gift that gave her annual payments for life. If things go downhill, she has that income. But, if everything turns around and she ends up not needing the extra money, then she can donate those future payments as a second gift.”

Section II: Wonky Charitable Tax Planning Opportunities

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May 24, 2018

New Charitable Gift Annuity Rates Announced

The American Council on Gift Annuities has announced an increase of its suggested maximum payout rates for Charitable Gift Annuities for the first time since 2012. The rates will be rising by 0.30 to 0.50 percentage points for those ages where most annuity contracts are done. The new rates become effective on July 1, 2018.

For some sample ages, the following table compares the current single-life payout rates to the new rates:

 

Current Rate through 6/30/18 New Rate, effective 7/1/18
Age 60 4.4% 4.7%
Age 70 5.1% 5.6%
Age 80 6.8% 7.3%
Age 90 9.0% 9.5%

As the above table illustrates, a 70 year-old donor who creates a Charitable Gift Annuity in July will receive a payout rate that is 9.8 percent greater than the rate currently available. Nonprofit organizations may find that the new, higher payout rates will generate greater interest in CGAs.

You can find the complete new rate schedule by clicking here.

When marketing your CGA program, there are a few tips that philanthropy researcher Prof. Russell James, III, JD, PhD, CFP® has found that can help you achieve greater success:

1. Tax Avoidance. Because the new tax code means that most donors will not itemize when filing their taxes, you might think you shouldn’t bother discussing tax avoidance when speaking with donors. However, that’s not necessarily the case. First, many of those who can afford to make a CGA donation will be tax itemizers who will be able to take advantage of the charitable gift deduction. Second, anyone with appreciated securities can avoid capital gains tax by establishing a CGA with a gift of stock rather than cash.

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May 3, 2018

Who Wins as a Result of New ACGA Decision?

For the first time since 2012, the American Council on Gift Annuities has approved an increase of its suggested maximum payout rates for Charitable Gift Annuities. The rates will be rising by 0.30 to 0.50 percent for those ages where most annuity contracts are done. The ACGA will publish the final rate schedules by May 15, with the new rates becoming effective on July 1, 2018.

The rate increase will make donors the winners of the ACGA decision. Beginning in the second half of the year, CGA donors will be able to receive more income than they previously could in recent years.

A CGA is a gift mechanism that allows donors to make a gift to charity, and then receive an income for life. A CGA contract sets the rate and terms with the donor. The rate is dependent on the age and gender of the annuitant(s), and the number of annuitants.

For charities, the higher CGA payout rates will make this planned-giving instrument more attractive to donors and, therefore, could generate more gifts. So, charities are another winner.

The ACGA summarizes what conditions its board considered when setting the new rates:

Generally speaking, the ACGA’s suggested maximum rates are designed to produce a target gift for charity at the conclusion of the contract equal to 50 percent of the funds contributed for the annuity. The rates are further predicated on the following:

An annuitant mortality assumption equal to a 50/50 blended of male and female mortality under the 2012 Individual Annuity Reserving Table (the 2012 IAR);

A gross investment return expectation of 4.75 percent (which is up from the previous return assumption of 4.25 percent) per year on the charity’s gift annuity funds;

An expense assumption of 1 percent per year.”

If your organization has a CGA program, you’ll want to reach-out to your prospects and donors to let them know about the CGA opportunity and higher rates. The new rate schedule provides a good reason to contact people about CGAs.

When communicating with people about CGAs, remember to encourage them to think about establishing a CGA with a gift of appreciated property (e.g., stocks, bonds, real estate). This will provide the donor with the added benefit of avoiding capital gains tax. Your organization will also benefit. Nonprofits that experienced greatest growth in their CGA programs, as well as average CGA gift size, emphasized gifts of appreciated property compared to cash, according to a recent ACGA report.

If your organization does not already have a CGA program, you might want to consider starting one. While managing an in-house CGA program can be administratively burdensome, there are third-party organizations (i.e., community foundations) that can administer your program for you.

Whether you manage the program in-house or out-source it, your organization will still be legally responsible for making payments to donors. While the CGA rates are designed to allow approximately 50 percent of a gift to ultimately go to the charity, there are many instances (particularly during the Great Recession) when that was not the case and charities received less than 50 percent, nothing, or were in a negative position. CGA programs are not without risk.

When marketing your CGA program, be careful to avoid a common mistake:

Do NOT sell CGAs as investments.

There are three reasons to avoid “selling” CGAs as an investment:

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October 28, 2016

Get a Free Halloween Treat for Fundraisers

If you’re like most fundraising professionals, you’re not optimally asking donors to include your nonprofit organization in their will.

You’re probably not driving as much traffic to your planned giving webpage as you could.

You’re also probably less successful at closing Charitable Gift Annuities than you could be.

lone-ranger-and-silver-via-melocuentas-flickr

The Lone Ranger and Silver.

I know. You decided to read this post to discover how you can get a free Halloween treat. Instead, you’re probably starting to feel tricked. But, fear not! Russell James, JD, PhD, CFP, the Texas Tech University professor and philanthropy researcher, along with the good folks at MarketSmart, are riding in to save the day.

Last summer, James conducted a webinar hosted by MarketSmart. During his presentation, James unveiled his latest, powerful research findings along with research insights from others. You can learn more about the webinar and get some great tips by clicking here.

Now, for your treat, MarketSmart has distilled James’ webinar into a free, 22-page e-book that will help you raise millions of dollars more. For example, here’s just one simple, yet valuable tip:

When you want to engage people in a conversation about Charitable Gift Annuities, what is the best way to describe this giving vehicle to make folks want to learn more?

James tested five phrases. Among the 2,550 respondents, he discovered the percentage interested in learning more:

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May 24, 2013

When is an Investment NOT an Investment?

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck. But, not always.

If it looks like an investment, involves tax consequences like an investment, and produces a return like an investment, then it is probably an investment. But, not always.

So, when is an investment not an investment?

When it’s a Charitable Gift Annuity.

“A CGA is a contract (not a ‘trust’), under which a charity, in return for a transfer of cash, marketable securities or other assets, agrees to pay a fixed amount of money to one or two individuals, for their lifetime,” according to the American Council on Gift Annuities. 

Rubber Ducks by Felix63 via FlickrI’ll admit that CGAs do look a great deal like an investment vehicle. A CGA involves a proposal that contains an illustration of how the gift will work; it involves tax benefits; and, it involves a rate of return. It’s easy to see why donors and even many development professionals think of CGAs as an investment opportunity.

The ACGA Board of Directors voted recently to make no changes to the suggested maximum CGA return rates that originally became effective January 1, 2012. The current rate schedule will remain in effect until further notice. This news prompted a planned giving professional to post the following message on a listserv: 

We usually do a promotion to current annuitants and recent inquiries, when the new CGA rates get announced. Whether they go up or down, it’s a message I can easily work with (either promoting the new increased rates, or ‘act now before rates go down in July,’ etc.).

Not sure what to do since they are staying the same – they’re not so great that staying the same is anything to brag about. Just curious what others are doing, or if laying low on this and focusing promotions in other areas.”

That posting demonstrates that some development professionals tend to think of CGAs as investment vehicles rather than philanthropic instruments. There are a number of reasons why this is problematic:

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September 29, 2011

Special Report: Important Updates to Two Prior Posts

[Publisher’s Note: “Special Reports” are posted from time-to-time as a benefit for subscribers and frequent visitors to this blog. “Special Reports” are not widely promoted. To be notified of all new posts, including “Special Reports,” please take a moment to subscribe in the right-hand column.]

I recently did a blog post titled “Charitable Gift Annuities: How Much Are You Leaving on the Table?” In response, Stephen Kull of Eastern Illinois University raised some questions about risk management and the Insured Gift Annuity Program offered by Morgan Stanley. I, in turn, raised the issues on GIFT-PL, the listserve of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, and on the Yahoo Planned Giving Group listserve. You can find Kull’s comment and the responses we received in the comments section of the post.

This past Spring, I wrote a blog post titled “Should Your Legacy Society be Inclusive or Exclusive?” In that post, I criticized the Association of Fundraising Professionals Foundation for considering a measure that would increase the minimum threshold for recognition in the legacy society from $5,000 to $10,000. I argued that even the minimum requirement made the legacy society exclusive when it should really be inclusive. I am happy to report that the AFP Foundation decided not to increase the minimum threshold. Unfortunately, they also decided not to eliminate the $5,000 minimum requirement. I thank Robert N. Croft, CFRE, an AFP Foundation board member, who provided an update to my original post. You can find Croft’s detailed update in the comments section of the post.

I thank everyone who shares their comments and insights. I particularly appreciate the individuals who have made these two particular updates possible.

That’s what Michael Rosen Says… What do you say?

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