Friday, December 21, 2012

Giving, Wile E. Coyote, and the Fiscal Cliff

Wily.  Wile E.  Wile E. Coyote.   A more cunning cartoon character would be hard to conceive.  The complex contraptions he would concoct were almost Rube Goldberg-like.  The more complicated, the more certain he was that they would work, yet they always failed.  Time after time we saw him catapult off of a cliff in his hungry quest for the Road Runner.  Beep, Beep!  Foiled again!

Now, I’m not saying the government is Wile E. Coyote or that the fiscal cliff is one in which Americans will be catapulting.    However, if similarities do exist, feel free to make them on your own.

What I am saying is that the tax deduction for charitable giving, “one which has been part of the tax code since 1917, is coming under pressure as part of a fiscal agreement being hammered out on Capitol Hill”, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Not knowing what to expect in 2013, financial advisers are reporting that some clients are banking on the certainty of 2012.  In that light they are accelerating charitable gifts and large medical expenses, selling appreciated stock, and even prepaying mortgages…all for the 2012 deductions that are known vs. the 2013 unknown.

For nearly a century, tax deductions have ruled the roost.  Want to reduce your taxable income?  It’s easy…just give to churches, schools, or worthy charities.   However, without knowing how deductions might change next year due to the fiscal cliff, and wanting to minimize the amount owed to Uncle Sam this year, many donors are considering paying forward donations right now.  But, how do you do that?

According to the Wall Street Journal, many tax advisors are encouraging their clients to employ a Warren Buffet strategy now, that may disappear in an upcoming fiscal agreement:  Donating stock.

They state, “Under current law, donations of assets that have risen in value, such as shares of stock, often qualify for a deduction at the full market price, enabling donors to skip paying capital-gains tax on the appreciation.  With the stock market having recovered much of its losses from 2007-09 and the possibility of deduction limits next year, many advisers say now is a good time to give stock.”

Another alternative might be to start a charitable fund at the Community Foundation.  Charitable Donor-Advised Funds have low annual fees, plus they provide donors with the opportunity to make charitable gifts NOW that don’t have to be allocated to designated charities until a later date.  This means that a donation to a newly-created Donor-Advised Fund could secure a full deduction for 2012, yet push decisions about charitable gifts to 2013…or later.

Foundations are experts in setting up new funds; we set them up on a weekly basis.  So, if a donor-advised fund seems like it could help you to meet your charitable goals, give us a call (765.662.0065).  As long as your donation is made (or postmarked) prior to midnight on December 31, 2012, you can claim your charitable gift tax deduction.  Your designated fund name and purpose can be determined when the fund agreement is completed in early 2013.   After money is given to a Donor Advised Fund at the Community Foundation, it is invested and can grow tax-free until you, the donor, advise the Foundation which eligible nonprofits to send checks to—at which point there is no deduction.

Obviously, we are not tax experts, but we can be the hub of your charitable giving now and in the future.  Please check with your financial advisor and see if donating stock or setting up a Donor Advised Fund for charity is a good solution for you. 

It sure beats rocketing off of the fiscal cliff like Wile E. Coyote.  Maybe, for once, we can be the Road Runner this time.  Beep, Beep! 

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Mom Moment

I have two teenage boys.  This means that Candy Creek Court is also the site of the world famous Mt. Laundry.  I swear it never ends.   My husband has literally threatened to place my Christmas present at the bottom of the laundry pile because he claims I’d never find it there! 

It also means that our home is somewhat magical.  Honestly, one day last week my boys and a couple of friends made an entire box of Little Debbie’s Christmas Tree cakes disappear right before my eyes.
But, more than anything, it means we are constantly laughing.  The way they look at life is thoroughly entertaining.  And, the way they choose to express their observations is pure comedic fodder.  My 16 year-old even tweeted last week that his family should have a sitcom.  But, I have to admit, the thought of a camera documenting our reality is a bit frightening.  So, I just choose to believe that every family is like ours.  Every family is like oursEvery family is like ours.  Maybe if I keep repeating it, I’ll even start to believe it myself. J

So, it came as no surprise to me that a typical trip to the eye doctor wouldn’t be so typical after all.  All-in-all, the doctor visit was fine…the one with braces doesn’t need glasses; the one without braces does.  So, $299 later, we stopped by the Foundation office for a quick second before I dropped them back off at school. 

Anonymous model donning Garfield's really big hat!
While here, they got to witness a once in a lifetime event.  I’m sure you all remember the AmAzInG grant that the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau gave us to create Garfield Garden earlier this year.  Well, what you might not know is that the keystone of the garden just happens to be the 12th Garfield to join the Garfield Trail here in Grant County.   And, you just have to celebrate the 12th Garfield on 12-12-12, right?  So, combine Sherri’s stellar sewing skills with Ashley’s willingness to climb atop a very tall ladder and, ba-da-bing-ba-da-boom, you have Garfield Santa. 

I certainly hope you’ll drive by Garfield Garden at 4th and Race Streets to see the merriment.  It might just be the most cat-tastic thing I’ve ever seen.

After the big reveal, the back-to-school car conversation went something like this: 

Son #1:  “Mom, the Community Foundation of Grant County has to be the most ‘action-packed’ of all community foundations.” 

Me:  “Well, you might be right about that.”

Son #2:  “Seriously, you’re like ‘Community Foundation EXTREME’!”

Me:  “Oh, yeah, that’s us.” (laughing all the way)

Son #2:  “I mean really…if I ever made a commercial for you guys it would look like this.  First the screen would say ‘Community Foundation of Grant County’.  Then a sweet little girl would appear on the screen.  Then she would quickly be replaced by a huge muscular guy.  And, then a giant rubber stamp would fill the screen with the word EXTREME.”

Son #1:  “Really, Mom, I didn’t know anyone could love working at a charity so much.”

That’s when I experienced the perfect ‘mom moment.  Without fabricating a scenario, I truly got to teach my own kids how important your life’s work is.  How vital it is to give back to others, how it fills my heart to know that each day we get to help students go to college or non-profits meet their respective missions.  How every dollar donated is first invested to grow it; then invested in people…classmates, neighbors, strangers we pass while shopping at Wal-Mart.  Although this career might not appear on the Fortune 500 list, building an endowment for our community is important work.  And, I love it. 

I don’t think I truly knew how much I really loved it until that moment in the car. They went to the eye doctor and I began to see things more clearly.  Funny how life works, isn’t it?

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Who’s More Generous Than This Guy?

Remember the Island of Misfit Toys in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? I loved watching this classic cartoon each year because I always felt a bit different.  I recall imagining that I was a character in that classic cartoon and choosing to live in the Island of Misfit Toys with Rudolph and his red nose, Hermey the elf who wanted to be a dentist, the squirt gun that shoots jelly, and Charlie in the Box.  I thought to myself, “Who wouldn't want to live in a place where everyone was special?”  If it would have been a real place, it surely would have made it to my bucket list. 

But, the problem with the Island of Misfit Toys is that all of the truly exceptional toys were there and not polka-dotting the toy boxes of children across the world.  Hermey and his buddy Yukon Cornelius ‘got that’.  They knew that a world without uniqueness was really no world at all.  And because they, too, were special, they knew that those toys wanted to be given and loved by children just as much as the children longed to love them.  And, thus, why this time of year is known as the season of giving.  So much so that this season even has a spokesman:  Santa.  I mean really, Santa…Who’s more generous than this guy?  In fact, it was with Santa in mind that the Foundation chose our light display at the Christmas City Walkway of Lights and our Christmas tree theme in our office. 

When you think about who the Quarterback, Supermodel, Sexiest Man Alive of Giving is, 9 out of 10 people surveyed would pick Jolly Ole St. Nick.  Lore passed down from generation to generation indicates that the modern Father Christmas was derived from the Dutch figure Sinterklaas, which, in turn, was based on tales of a Christian bishop and gift-giver Saint Nicholas.  Suffice it to say that if Twitter would have existed in the 4th Century, Saint Nicholas would have been the reason that giving was trending.

The cool thing about the giving trend and Santa, Hermey, Yukon Cornelius, Sinterklaas, and Saint Nicholas is that, although they were alike in many generous ways, they were also different in their generosity.  That’s why, even today, generosity comes in all shapes and sizes.  Giving is, and should be, as unique as the giver. 

If you follow our Facebook page you've probably already seen our Leopard Santa tree.  Now, let me introduce you to Leopard Santa himself.  

He’s our CF Christmas mascot.  As Santa, he represents true generosity; yet the leopard fur just adds a little something, don’t you think?  That’s because we’re not just like every other office or every other foundation or even every other non-profit.  To build the community’s endowment for the future, we still promote generosity, but with a long-term twist.  Building an endowment gives us the independence to tackle issues of today and tomorrow.   And the fact that our donors understand this now-and-later type of impact, they know to follow the wise advice of Hermey when he said, “Whaddya say we both be independent together, huh?”  Together, throughout the year, your donations arrive, we grow those gifts, and then grant money from those funds to make Grant County a better place for you and me each and every year.  We need each other.  So, whaddya say we both be independent together, huh?

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