A Charitable Guide to Planned Giving

A "Get-To-It" Guide by DeWayne Osborn CPA, CGA, CFP®

Getting Started

1.5 - General Issues to Consider

So if planned giving is such a good deal, then why doesn't every charity have a planned gifts program? Well, generally speaking, there are a number of reasons:

1. Costs:

Depending on the type of program the charity has (full or part-time), the initial investment is around $50,000 to $150,000 or more annually. Not many charities are in a position to invest that kind of money on the hope that a healthy return will be realized in 20 or more years. Typically, it takes three to five years for a full-time program to recover the initial cost, and only if outright (current) gifts are a major thrust of the planned gifts program.

2. Lack of Planned Gifts Technical Knowledge:

Practically every charity in Canada can tell you how to raise money through special events, direct mail solicitations, or lotteries. However, if you ask them to tell you how to gift your home, cottage, or stock to their charity, you will most likely be met with stony silence. Why? Very few charities can afford to employ people with the financial knowledge to "walk the donor" through such a non-cash gift. The problem is compounded because, without the financial expertise, the charity cannot adequately illustrate how planned gifts work. Thus, they are not able to get the message to their most loyal donors - which is their best hope for finding a planned gift donor.

3. No Time to Think Long Term.

Typically, smaller charities (two or fewer employees) do not have the time to research, build and implement a planned gifts program, much less gather intelligence and information on how to solicit such gifts. Increasing demands for securing funding today to deliver their current charitable activities leads to many charities "shelving" the planned giving program until another day - a day that often never comes.

4. Lack of Information:

There are over 83,000 registered charities in Canada, and it is quite likely that not all of them have heard of planned giving. Hopefully, through the efforts of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP*ACPDPTM) and several professional organizations such as ADVOCIS and The Certified General Accountants Association (CGA), more high-quality, easy-to-understand planned giving information will permeate the charitable sector for the benefit of all registered charities in Canada.

5. Objectives of the Donor and Charity:

In recent years, donors have become more and more demanding of the charities receiving their gifts. A typical example would be a donor placing a direction on the use of the gift. For example: I want to establish an endowment fund and the income from which is to be used to fight multiple sclerosis. If fighting multiple sclerosis is consistent with the charity's activities, then there is normally no problem. However, if at some time in the future the charity's activities no longer support the fight against multiple sclerosis, then the charity will have a legal problem changing the direction unless it has a power to alter clause in the gift agreement, or the donor is willing and able to change the direction.

Keywords: ADVOCIS, CAGP, cost, endowment, power to alter