The magazine Forward Movement wrote about Lent on March 1: “Let us approach Lent as treasure hunters, discovering what we truly value, where we actually spend our time and energy, and what occupies our thoughts and worries. Let us name our treasures, and find our hearts.”
This is the first in a five part series on planned giving where some treasures will be named that can be built over your life that will help you and the church. For the church, they will help build up an endowment or may help start or complete a project. One planned gift by the Downman family before World War I helped buy part of a heating system. Planned Giving is about building the next St. George’s as a reflection of God’s abundant grace for this community.
Planned gifts can give back to you as well as benefit the church. Besides the intangible spiritual benefits and the idea of making a difference here, gift planning may help lower taxes and trade a gift for income. It could mean a tax deduction based on an asset or a monthly check based on an annuity product. Hopefully one or more examples we will cover will resonate with you and encourage you to make a planned gift.
First, a definition. Planned Gifts are future-focused gifts that build treasure for a church. Planned giving is one expression of the wise use of the personal resources God has entrusted to us. It is a call of intentionality – and so we plan. We hope to maximize our contribution toward future generations based on the generosity that has been shown to us.
Our timing is long term – over a lifetime. If you already give to our budget yearly through the fall stewardship campaign, this is the next step. These are treasures that accumulate over years and may go through several transitions. The timing is different from other times we come to you. In the fall stewardship campaign the focus was providing funds for next year. A capital campaign may look to 3-year period. Planned Giving is looking beyond both of these to build treasure not so much from your paycheck as from specific assets beyond the time periods mentioned above. It is intended to build a future that we cannot even imagine.
Planned Giving has a personal component. Planned Gifts are essential to help sustain future ministry by connecting a number of parishioners to act over their lives to support the church financially. They may isolate their gifts to support specific ministries for the future or the church in general. Planned giving helps parishioners impact more lives than they could ordinarily do individually and involve their entire families if they include the church in their estate plans. In Part 3 on wills you will see that planned giving is referenced in the Book of Common Prayer!
Different gifts are appropriate at different times in your life. In your 20s, perhaps some spare funds for the Endowment fund. In your 40s, you may have an asset you could donate (such as an older vehicle). Then when you hit 55 a charitable gift annuity or appreciated stock and at 65 a gift to the church through your will. Note that planned giving is appropriate for all – there are no minimum amounts, and there are a variety of means. We have to be creative here to show you the possibilities. You then need to see how a planned gift could work with your family’s financial goals.
Planned giving has a firm basis in Jesus’ teachings. Jesus does not condemn the accumulation of wealth as long as it serves a worthy purpose. In the parable of the talents (Mt. 25:14–30) Jesus commends the servant who multiplied what he had been given, that it might serve an even greater usefulness. Then in Luke, he condemned the man who only built a bigger barn for himself. We have to be concerned with goals of accumulation and how wealth is used.
So why are doing this in Lent? This week Ash Wednesday emphasized death. The words of this day echo language from the funeral liturgy, “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.” Some planned gifts, such as a will are only realized in death; others such as annuities area a tax planning vehicle in your life time but a final gift is recognized at death. This repetition reinforces another goal of Lent for creating ways of drawing us closer to God.
Over the next few weeks we will looking at various types of planned gifts:
- Gifts to St. George’s trusts and funds, such as the General Endowment Fund, Memorial Trust Fund
- Deferred Church gifts – wills
- Immediate Gifts – cash, securities, real estate
- Life income gifts – charitable gift annuities and trusts.
Our goal in this is to educate and to encourage you to act to support planned giving.
What does planned giving mean to you? Have you ever made or considered a planned gift? If so, which one(s) and why? Let me know firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday March 7. I will pick the best answer, or if there are too many a random one with a completed answer. The winner gets at $5 Hyperion card to “have one on me.”