I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For — The Universal Charitable Deduction

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For — The Universal Charitable Deduction

I’ve found myself engaged in a good deal of conversations about the charitable deduction in 2017, but I still haven’t found what I am looking for (Just in case you care, the version of the U2 classic song that I prefer is this one (with Bruce Springsteen). Today, I spent a second day of 2017 on Capitol Hill.  The National Association of Charitable Gift Planners gathered 800 professionals in Baltimore for its national conference this week.  Fifty of us met with 62 Senator and Representative’s offices.  In fact, we met with staff from 10 of the 26 Members of the Senate Finance Committee. We had done something similar in February where we were discussing Speaker Ryan’s “Blueprint”. but today was very different.  We are on the verge of getting a tax reform Bill.  The “Big Six” in the Senate issued a 9 page plan which outlined their goals for reform and while thjs plan does not offer a lot of detail about how tax reform would actually occur, I know what I was looking for… the Universal Charitable Deduction. On the face of it, the plan seems to simplify the tax process.  It doubles the standard deduction while retaining the charitable deduction for those that itemize. As one representative said today “I thought they spared the charitable deduction.”  While on its face it appears they spared the charitable deduction, in fact, the plan could end costing the charitable community up to $14.7 billion per year. Currently,  roughly 1 of 3 of taxpayers itemized their deductions.  It is estimated that when the standard deduction is  doubled, around 1 of 20...
Engaging Your Donors for Life-Long Giving

Engaging Your Donors for Life-Long Giving

In our ongoing effort to help make planned giving more accessible, collaborative and beneficial for charities, we hosted a workshop led by fundraising expert Laura Kaufman. The fourth in our series of free seminars and workshops, Engaging Your Donors for Life-Long Giving, invited Chicago-area nonprofits to learn about strategies and tactics for engaging donors over a long time horizon. Laura covered three major areas with us: The Individual Donor (ID) Marketplace. What is Engagement and Why Does It Matter? Driving Donor Engagement. State of Giving: National and Chicago Area Trends Nonprofits are experiencing more giving than ever before. In each category, numbers are on the rise, year over year. According to Giving USA’s report, giving by bequest is up 2.1%, giving my individuals is up 3.8% and total giving has increased 4.4%. The next question is, where is the money going?  This chart from Giving USA breaks it down nicely. Drilling down to the specific Chicago area market, the Chicago Community Trust shared some interesting data. Compared to a national average of 59%, 73% of Chicagoans give to charity. 49% of Chicago households volunteer and 78% of dollars donated by Chicagoans stay in the region. What is Engagement: Often overlooked, donor engagement is absolutely critical for the long-term health of an organization. While nonprofit fundraisers are busy managing many initiatives for their organization, donor engagement must be the core of their day-to-day. Research shows doing so will make capital and annual giving campaigns go more smoothly, netting better results. The donor engagement cycle can be broken down into these simple components: Recruit/Inspire, Learn, Engage, Ask, Thank, Repeat, Upgrade and...
Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

As the end of the year approaches, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle of all the things to get done, the preparing, perhaps traveling, the celebrations to attend or maybe even something difficult that’s keeping your attention. Through all of this, we hope you can take pause and just ponder all of the things that you have to be thankful for.  Today, we are doing just that, and we can certainly look to YOU with such appreciation and thanks for your interest in or support of The Advise Us Fund.  It’s been a tremendous year, and all that we are doing to work to help others and fulfill our mission would not be possible without your support. We hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving and many good wishes as we embark on 2017! From generation to generation,   The Board of Directors, Staff and Volunteers of The Advise Us...
Estate Planning Procrastination Stopped by a Smartphone

Estate Planning Procrastination Stopped by a Smartphone

Being a middle-aged man with a family, my wife and I have been reviewing our estate plans with the intention of revising them.  15 years ago, our attorney-led us through a relatively simple process.  This time, I am searching for an app to help me manage the process.  An app that will give us what we need to do if we plug in answers to a few multiple choice questions.  Unfortunately, this app does not exist and I was stuck for a while trying to find out the status of our plans.  In lieu a magical app, I have found the following helped me to break the cycle of procrastination in estate planning: Review and Assemble Current Documents – This may seem simple but this can be complex with wills, trusts, retirement plans and life insurance.  Make sure you know where everything is and what is in it.  A good summary can be found on RetiredBrains.com. Take a Current Inventory of All Assets – Simply put, in the worst case scenario, it is important to let people know where things are.   The inventory should also be a part of your documents.  RetiredBrains.com also has a great checklist for items to include. Think of The Important People – We live our lives with and, in many ways, for our loved ones.  If you look at the wallpaper of my smartphone, you will see a picture of my loved ones.  I’m sure your loved ones occupy similar spaces and you may want them to occupy similar spaces in your estate plans. Think of The Values You Want to Pass On—We donate...