The time to prepare for year-end charitable giving is now

When fundraisers ask for “cash” donations, they’re not only selling their organizations short, they’re also selling their donors short. A credit card or cheque donation may be easy, but it comes from an account the donor has already paid tax on. The donation actually costs more than the donor is giving.

Meanwhile, the stock market has nearly doubled over the past year and assets have grown in value. Charities, donors, and advisors should be exploring tax-efficient giving strategies.

There’s no question about it: discussing donations can be intimidating. With complex terminology and even more complex calculations, it’s no wonder many fundraisers and donors choose to stay on the path they’re familiar with: cash donations. Unfortunately, this becomes an expensive loss of opportunity for charities, donors, and their advisors.

Discussing tax-efficient giving from stocks, mutual funds, and registered accounts like RRIFs can create significant donations where taxable capital gains come into play. When fundraisers and advisors understand the core capabilities of tax-efficient giving, they provide dramatically increased value to their donors and their organization.

A tax-efficient donation is a win for all involved, lowering taxes for the donor while contributing to a greater good and helping a charity get closer to its funding goals. Bigger gifts become possible and more affordable.

Lowering taxes can be complicated, largely because of national and provincial tax laws. Determining the best way to lower taxes depends on which taxes the donor hopes to lower. Knowing the appropriate techniques can lower capital gains taxes, income taxes, and estate capital gains taxes.

Tax-efficient planned giving and major gifts have significant impact on charities. They are the secret weapon of fundraisers and savvy donors alike. When fundraisers ask for cash, they’re asking from the small bucket. The big bucket is filled with the highly taxable assets that have not yet been taxed.

A donor’s most valuable assets, such as real estate or tangible goods, can be inaccessible for the purpose of generating cash for donations. There may be legal or tax consequences associated with the untimely sale of these assets. Empowering charities to engage with their donors on a win-win path will achieve larger donations and satisfied donors.

Fundraisers, donors, and financial advisors deserve the tools they need to understand the complex benefits associated with making tax-efficient donations to charities.

At FUNDING matters Inc., we developed Giftabulator® with the donor in mind, to increase individual giving and lower taxes. The online tool for facilitating discussions about tax-efficient giving strategies – for today or in the future – is now at the fingertips of donors, charities, and advisors.

Why Planned Giving is a good place to start for Major Gifts

Through Covid-19 we’ve all been made aware that the number of deaths is increasing, but guess what? Planned giving is not.

Remember, charities play two primary roles; one, provide services, programs, care that fill a large gap that governments can’t or won’t support in communities; and two, raise funds for these programs and services.

The provision of support for the needy, investments in science, and cultural education have made a tremendous difference for many during the pandemic. Overall, charities perform very well in providing these programs and services with limited resources, day-to-day and year-to-year.

The second area that charities focus is much more difficult, fundraising. The ability of fundraisers to engage in meaningful discussions with their donors is often a challenge. Possessing the ability to educate, illustrate and activate meaningful charitable discussion that shows the donor why their funding is important and illustrating how they can afford a tax efficient donation from taxable appreciated assets, this isn’t magic.

I was recently speaking with a colleague who advises philanthropists. She stated that in many instances, if the donor stopped their giving to the charity, they would be forced to end the program. In our discussion, the solution for the charity and the donor should be to develop a plan to sustain the program with an endowment with the donor from their estate, current assets or both.

Planned giving is an effective fundraising method, but it has its challenges. In future blogs, I’ll peel back the onion on charitable giving and give you an inside look as to why it’s such a good place to start when thinking about major gifts.

Giftabulator provides new tools for those in the charitable sector; helping them to explore and understand major gifts, planned giving and endowments with an easy to use client interface.

For more information visit

Click here! To see tax efficient ways to give

Applying the value curve to major gift and planned giving

The concept of the ‘value curve’ was introduced in 1997 by academics, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. They believe that an effective strategy needs to have three main factors:

1. A clear focus.
2. Divergence from the competition.
3. A compelling tag line.

The Value Curve model aims to fulfil all of these factors. It provides a useful framework for comparing your strategy against that of your competitors, by using a simple chart. This helps you focus sharply on the things that differentiate you from your competitors, and develop a clear and easily explained value proposition.
The chart below, shows an example of how value curves can be used to compare strategies. In this example, the value curves represent the strategies used by charities to illustrate major and planned giving fundraising: a pencil and paper, excel spreadsheet & Giftabulator.

The amount of training, education and knowledge required by a charity to have their staff calculate the ideal donation either by pencil and paper or in populating an excel spreadsheet is a barrier for most charities in discussing the benefits of donating appreciated assets or incorporating a bequest within one’s estate plan.

The factors on the x axis show the key criteria or “competitive factors” that charities and those that advise or raise money in this sector think are important. The vertical axis shows the degree to which the budget and traditional tools invest in, or “value,” each of these criteria.

Giftabulator is pre-programed with charitable giving scenarios based on region, household income tax brackets and tax on appreciated assets such as stock, mutual funds, registered investments, secondary property and private company shares. Giftabulator generates outcomes within a split second to illustrate the benefits of a charitable donation.
Let me demonstrate how this can be illustrated:

See the impact of your donation with GIFTABULATOR.

You Gotta Learn It Before You Know It

My good friend David Tsubouchi, posts inspirational quotes that are spot on and remind us that we are human and that we don’t always get it right the first time.

I have worked with David on many initiatives over the years and he brings positivity, zeal and intelligence to every encounter.  He’s a people person who cares about others.

This week’s quote by Maya Angelou is in the sweet spot for charities, fundraisers and those helping donors make the right decisions. Realizing that asking for donations is one of the most difficult things that anyone can do, since it’s intimidating, non-linear, it depends on the prospective donor and those around them and it involves knowledge, skill, support and tools that help you achieve you and your donors goals.

This holds true in asking for donations. Whether you’re a fundraiser, a volunteer assisting in the raising of funds for your organization or an advisor in the area of investments, tax or law. The opportunity to learn, build skills, knowledge, techniques in presenting and asking the right questions and creating a comfort level isn’t something that comes naturally – but is learned by trial, error, failure and success.

Imagine illustrating the impact of a donation to a particular donor, you should see the benefit that it will give the organization along with its mission. Also, the benefit that the donor will receive from a tax efficient donation from appreciated assets or their estate.

Let’s look at the beauty of a program aimed at increasing art programs for underprivileged kids and the need to fund the space and some of the materials. Your donor has recently told you how she benefited from such a program when she was younger, that is why she has been a regular annual donor. She then follows up with “I wish I could do more, but…”

Educating charities and those individuals involved with them by suggesting, “what if there was a way you could do more, would you like to hear about that?” Getting the opportunity to inform the donor about their giving options can be easily learned and transmitted. This approach may actually identify when the donor might actually and truly be interested in learning. This also is a gentle approach that does not make the fundraiser come across as aggressive but simply serving in the role of an informed industry staff or volunteer.

Your donor is thinking about donating $100,000 to your arts fund. She is looking to write a cheque to your organization. She will receive the tax credit for her donation. Suggesting to your donor a donation of appreciated assets such as stock, your donor will not only receive the tax credit or tax deduction but additionally avoid the capital gains tax on their investment.

Let me demonstrate how this can be illustrated:

See the impact of your donation with GIFTABULATOR.

#1 Secret To Asset Based Giving

When fundraisers ask for “cash” they are selling their organization short.

Sure talking to donors can be intimidating. Fundraising, financial advisors and donors deserve the tools to help understand complex the benefits associated with making a tax efficient donation to their charities.

With the complex terms, complex calculations no wonder many (fundraisers) turn away from the field to go down the easier path that they are familiar with asking for cash.

This aversion to discussing planned and major giving results in an enormous loss of opportunities for the donor, the fundraiser and the advisors.

When fundraisers and advisors are able to understand the core capabilities of planned giving, they are able to provide dramatically increased value to their donors and organization. That starts with mastering the vast complexity possible in major and planned giving.

A major gift donation is a win for all those involved, lowering taxes for the donor while contributing to a greater good helps a charity get closer to their funding goals. Major planned giving makes these bigger gifts more doable and affordable.

Lowering taxes can be somewhat complicated. Most of the complexity comes from the tax laws, nationally and provincially. Determining the best way to lower taxes depends on which the donor is planning on lowering. Planning can lower capital gains taxes, income taxes and estate taxable capital gains, where the techniques differ depending on which asset is in play.

Planned giving and major gifts has a significant impact on charities. Getting the donor to write a cheque is clean and quick when you have the donor in mind as well as the charity and cause. Beyond sending a gift receipt, it requires no knowledge of taxes, investments, finance or law. Major and planned gifts will be your number one secret and your “easy” button for fundraisers and donors. When fundraisers ask for cash they are asking from the small bucket, look at the big bucket.

The largest assets such as real estate or tangible assets are not easy to write and cheque from, they are less accessible.  These may come from the fact that there is difficulty in selling all or part of the asset from legal or tax consequences associated with the asset. If you follow this path, you may achieve a larger donation and a happier donor.   

Giftabulator was developed with the donor in mind.  Increase individual giving and lower taxes.  The stock market over the past year has nearly doubled, assets have grown in value and the opportunity for charities to discuss tax efficient giving strategies now or in the future is at the fingertips of donors, charities and advisors.

See the impact of your donation with GIFTABULATOR

So You Won The Lottery, Now What?…

Over the years I have had the privilege of being interviewed by and presented with Patricia Lovett-Reid discussing the importance of estate and philanthropic planning to her audience and to many organizations, their supporters and members. It was a platform where we heard many interesting and challenging questions regarding estate and incorporating charitable giving. These sessions provided many answers to a myriad of issues, concerns around the importance of financial planning, how lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors needs to be engaged with their clients.

This past week, Patricia commented on LinkedIn a topic that we had not discussed in any of our encounters, that being, winning the lottery! What a great topic for new found wealth, that these lucky winners find themselves in and this especially relates to another lottery style windfall, inheritance. Just as if, your six or seven numbers were to come up, sometimes the same is true for an inheritance.

How much might one want to give to charity from the windfall? There are several options in looking at how one might become a philanthropist and have fun doing it. The $70M LottoMax is tax free but with the right investment strategy, however the growth after the first year is taxable. With your advisors, look at how much you can give away from your taxable capital gain to not only benefit a charity but yourself too.

The role that professional advisors play in helping these newly minted millionaires is invaluable. Let me show you a way we illustrate the tax calculation on a $70M lottery windfall. Assume that your $70M is invested and generates 6% ROI. The growth in year one will be a taxable capital gain of $4.2M. The tax on that $4.2M would be approximately $722,655. Now with a donation of $1.5M almost all of the tax is eliminated.

Now, assume your $70M windfall is invested at 6% you can have an impact of $2.45M in the second year. Every year afterwards your $70M will continue to grow even after you disburse 3.5% of your principal amount of $70M. 

The illustration on GIFTABULATOR will not only show your $70M principal growth over time but will also illustrate the impact you can have with your philanthropy now and into the future. 

We have developed GIFTABULATOR to calculate how much one can give to reduce their taxable capital gains. Don’t sell your taxable capital gain shares but work with your investment advisor and accountant and calculate how many shares your should gift to charity not to trigger the tax. This would be a real win-win-win for the donor, the charity and the advisor who helped make this a reality.

See the impact of your donation with GIFTABULATOR

Who Is Your Oraganization’s Superhero – A One Minute Read

Will the financial advisor be the charity’s superhero and save the day? Or, will the charity take the lead showing their donors the best ways to give?

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard in the past 20 years, “we’re fundraisers and not financial advisors…I’m not going to have a discussion with my donor about what they have or how to give…they should discuss this with their financial advisors…we have some information on our website.”

Frankly, I’m glad that the financial advisors have become involved with charitable planning. It is the wake up call to all charities to get trained, have the tools and knowledge in having meaningful discussions with their donors. These discussions will lead to meaningful discussions with the advisors for their donors which will lead to profound changes in funds raised for these organizations.

The competition for donations is as great as ever, even though the opportunity to discuss charitable giving with donors hasn’t changed over the years. The donors have always been there but the charities haven’t been there to discuss the best ways for their donors to give.

What has changed is the competition has become that much greater for charities and it’s not from other charities.

The challenge is that in the past ten years the charitable giving market has just become that much more competitive.

Financial advisors have now entered the market with Donor Advised Funds (DAF’s), Private Foundations and other tactics to create a greater stickiness to the investments that they manage for their clients. It’s not a bad thing that this has occurred since charities have always had this option but never pursued it.

In reality, the charities are doing all of the hard work in terms of engaging their donors, but these charities are content in receiving cash donations that are more expensive than a donation of appreciated stock (For a recap see our latest blog).

All of the galas, golf tournaments, special events, direct mail, and online giving does not come close to the potential of a well cultivated donation where a well trained or skilled charity staff or volunteer engages with their donor and illustrates the best ways to consider a donation.

Donors can give more at the same net cost if the donation is in the form of an appreciated asset like a stock or mutual fund.

Stock donation = tax credit + avoid taxable capital gains (all pre-tax dollars)

Tax on a $100,000 taxable capital gain = $26,765

Cash/Cheque/VISA = tax credit (and you’ve used after tax dollars)

In the image above, you will see how the Capital Gains on your Stock and / or Mutual Fund investment will increase your taxes. If you chose to not make a donation you would be owing $26,765 on your investment.

Here is a scenario where you could offset that same Capital Gains tax with a donation that will not only benefit a deserving organization but also help with your taxable income. By donating a portion of your Capital Gains such as $100,000 in this case above, you see how you can reduce your tax and generate a tax credit of $44,112 where your $100,00 donation only costs you $55,888.

In the image above we see a case where the donation was made in cash. A $100,000 donation generates a tax credit of $40,960 costing you a total of $59,040.

Let’s create a win-win-win for the charity, the financial advisor and the donor.

  1. Give the charities and the advisors the tools the need to have informed and meaningful discussions with their clients and prospective donors;
  2. With the support of advisors, charities should engage in discussions with their donors to create endowed funding that support programming or operations; and
  3. A cooperative relationship between the advisors, the charities and the donors/clients can create opportunities for tax efficient giving.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, successes and challenges and how we can incorporate strategic philanthropy into your daily routine.

Happy Fundraising!


What’s In Your Wallet?

Asking for a cash donation may seem easier than a Major Gift, but is it the right thing to do for your organization? 

When you ask for cash donations you really don’t need to put the time into helping your donors while they are trying to help you and your organization.

When you ask for cash you don’t need to put the time into becoming a competent advisor or one who is willing to spend time with donors and provide direction or connections to those who can assist the donors in making a wise donation decision.

When you ask for a cash donation you don’t really need to learn new things like asset  based giving or options for giving.

When you ask for cash you’re not building the sustainability of your organization but meeting your current needs.
 But asking for assets makes sense for your donor and for your organization. 

When you ask for a cash donation you are asking your donor to give out of the smallest bucket that they have in the overall assets.  Cash is an asset but so are stocks, mutual funds, real estate, art, tangible personal property and registered investments and even private business shares. 

I am willing to bet that the cash holding for most of your donors is truly the smallest bucket of assets of all of their holdings.

Then why do you keep on taking the easy way out?

If you invested in the stock market over the past year, the gain represents an opportunity to discuss the advantages of donating shares to your charity rather than donating cash.  The share donation is pre-tax thus eliminating the tax owed on the donated shares.  Rather than donating cash where you’ve already paid the tax, your donation actually cost you more than if you donated the equivalent amount in shares.

In the Giftabulator scenario above, the donor lives in Ontario and has a household income of $91,101 which determines their tax bracket.  Their shares are worth $25,000 and they paid $10,000 for them.  Not a bad return on investment.  The tax on the asset is $2,605. A Major Gift of $5,000 provides a tax credit of $1,968 and reducing the tax to $637.  The actual cost of their donation when transferred from their investment account to the charity is $3,032.

Invest in yourself, invest in your organization, embrace new approaches to donor engagement, donor education and organizational sustainability.

For more information, please feel free to contact me.