Trump Tax Plans – Good, Bad or Ugly for Charities?


Here is the really brief summary of some of the so-called Trump tax pre-proposal/rumors that might effect charitable and/or planned giving  (he isn’t President yet so I wouldn’t call these a proposal yet):

  • 3 income tax brackets: 12%, 25%, and 33% (obviously, those in the 39.6%/43.4% with Obama care tax will save a lot of money! – probably no significant impact)
  • Goodbye estate tax (we have seen this before – since tax cuts generally must be revenue neutral, we might see the same old hocus pocus to make it “work” which usually means more business for estate planning attorneys;)
  • Lower capital gains rates for those currently at 18.8%/23.8% rates with Obama care tax (not great for life income gifts like charitable remainder trusts)
  • Cap the total amount of itemized deductions at $100,000 for single filers and $200,000 for joint filers (yikes: this could get interesting, probably a boom for Donor Advised Funds in the short term)

According to a CBS News article (click here to see), advisors might be rushing their clients into up-fronting charitable giving before year’s end to maximize deductions just in case some of Trump’s plans actually come to fruition reducing the charitable deductibility of major gifts in future tax years.  The last bullet point is huge on this point – major campaign givers may want to consider the advice in the article!

After following tax law impacting charitable giving for close to 20 years, I am always hesitant to get ahead of ourselves – campaign discussions and even actual proposed presidential budgets rarely look like anything in legislation that is actually passed.  So, let’s chalk up any hysteria that pushes donors into speeding up gifts (even to donor advised funds) as a good thing and wait to see what really transpires.

Catch their attention, inspire them, and get them thinking

I came across this picture and quote of Stephen Covey (click here to go to the site) in looking for an idea for a client to put something in their annual report just as they are starting their planned giving program.  I just can’t let this one go even though I don’t think they will use it idea.

My advice to nonprofits trying to get some traction in planned giving: figure out how to use the “Live, love, laugh, leave a legacy” quote (possibly with a picture of Covey or not or another similar inspiring legacy quote) – design something powerful like the above and put it in front of your community. Catch the attention of your supporters, get them inspired and thinking, and then get them thinking about their legacies – in that order. If you do this consistently (along with some proactive steps like surveys and matching gift campaigns), you will start getting calls about legacy gifts (along respondents to your proactive marketing efforts, of course). I think it’s that easy.


The Struggle for Relevance


Let’s face it: fundraising departments are under tremendous pressure, sometime to raise ridiculous sums of money in ridiculously short time frames.  In other words, the heads of development who are under unreasonable demands need to be laser focused on the bottom line.

What does this mean for planned giving?

Well, this is underlying story  of planned giving that I experience as well as colleagues. Sure, planned giving is important to most heads of development, in theory.  But, if our planned giving efforts are not impacting today’s numbers, attention (i.e. time and budget) will turn elsewhere.  And, without time and/or budget, our chances at success are very limited.

This is actually why a fulltime planned giving position is actually a very tricky position to succeed at.  If fundraising departments gave us a pro-rata share of budget, intros to top prospects, and so on, it would be easy!  But, we are usually stuck in the corner, with little or no budget, and less and less access to the prospects who can make transformational planned gifts.  Yes, when they need us, we are ready to help close a planned gift that the donors ask for.  But, there are just not enough of those to sustain interest.

And, to be honest, as a consultant, I am under even more pressure to deliver results quickly.  If you follow my webinars and blog posts, you might recall that I was once given 4 months to get results or say good-bye to my largest client.  Yes, 4 months.  And, all of our prior mailings, emails, and other efforts had not really worked. And, they were not allowing me to contact the board members or other likely prospects.

So, what did I do? I gave the executive director a list of things I could work on in what looked like my last 4 months on this client.  My best advice was to go for the “results” oriented survey program from Market Smart.  To his credit (the exec wasn’t one who was putting me under the gun, it was the chairman of the board), he decided to take the chance, spend a little money, and take our best shot at some results.

What happened? We got results! 70 new members of the legacy society. Over 400 planned giving prospects. Proof that the organization needed a full time planned giving director. (And, two more years of my work with this organization!)

Now maybe you understand why I am so fixated on survey programs. They get results.  I am also fixated on planned giving matching gift campaigns – they also get results!  This is a cash match is used to encourage revealing of planned gifts – with varying ways to release funds.

There aren’t the only ideas out there for getting planned giving results but I can’t think of any others that get such quick turnaround (particularly the survey campaign which saw huge numbers for me within 4 months of being on the brink).

Want to learn more about these ROI ideas that work?

I just gave a webinar last week on survey campaigns!  Click here to see a description of it and register if you would like the view the recording (I will see the registration and email the recording link).

Or, tomorrow I am giving a webinar on Planned Giving Matching Gift Campaigns – Click here to register! (all registrants receive the recording link in case anyone misses the live session).


Fall Training Program Dates!


BootCampWe are pleased to announce fall dates for our popular training programs.

The Planned Giving Boot Camp – our original webinar training program that jumpstarts you and your team into this crucial area – for just $350 your entire team can participate – starts again on October 13, 2016 at 12 noon (EST)!  This is a 6-part program, one hour each session, all recorded in case you miss a class.  Click here or the above picture for more info or to register.

Or, for those beyond the basics, click here to learn more about Beyond the Planned Giving Boot Camp (or part II) – our 4-part follow-up webinar program starts October 26 for $240 for your team to learn more about implementing a successful planned giving program. Or, click the below picture.