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On a recent visit with a client, our discussion turned to how he wanted to make a mark on some cherished nonprofits in the community. We talked about making a mark in terms of what I call a “forever impact.” It is a type of legacy contribution that benefits a nonprofit for years to come.

Just like my client, you might be thinking of ways you can make a difference for the nonprofits in your community. A gift on an annual basis or a gift to a capital campaign are great examples of generosity. Once your intention turn towards your “forever impact” on a nonprofit a variety of opportunities emerge. 

Here are a few quick tips on sharing your legacy with a nonprofit:

  1. How do I choose a nonprofit when making legacy gift? This is a good and common question. Generally, if you are leaving part of your estate to a nonprofit, you should know them well. It is important to have good relationships with the executive staff and the board of directors. To help narrow the field of potential nonprofit organizations, you can ask questions like: What nonprofits have most impacted me? What nonprofits have most impacted my family? What is a cause in our community that I care deeply about and which nonprofit is addressing that cause?
  2. Is the nonprofit ready for a legacy gift? Managing a portion of the proceeds from your estate is a big responsibility for any nonprofit. To make sure your desired “forever impact” is fulfilled, you need to make sure the nonprofit has the ability to be an effective steward. You should look at their Form 990 (their annual report to the IRS), their annual community report, and ask if they have an endowment committee or gift acceptance policy. This homework can be valuable in your gift decision process. 
  3. What gift vehicle is right for you? Based on your tax situation, family relationships, and a variety of other factors, there are several methods of making a “forever impact” that you might consider. Most legacy gifts are given as a bequest. This is probably the simplest strategy. However, you might benefit from a charitable gift annuity which provides some current tax benefit to you and an income stream while you are still alive. You might also consider a charitable remainder trust which offers some income flexibility and a measure of control on how the gift is used. 

If you would like some guidance on charitable giving, we are here to help. With over a century of experience in charitable planning, our team is available to offer advice and counsel to you and your family.


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Rob has worked in all aspects of fundraising administration for philanthropic organizations. He has held positions as capital campaign manager, foundation executive director and consultant to foundation staff and leadership.

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