What is "planned giving?" Generally, a planned gift is a gift of assets to a charitable organization in a manner in which you, the donor, retain a financial interest (e.g., the income from or use of the asset) and which often involves the assistance of a professional such as your family lawyer, financial planner, or tax accountant. Planned giving--the term defines itself. Planned giving is not just for the well-to-do, but for everyone. If you have remembered your college, local hospital, or another tax-exempt civic or charitable institution in your will, then you have made a planned gift. Think about it. You have designated the future use of a portion of your estate for a community organization, but you will continue to use those assets for the rest of your life. The professional who assisted you most likely was a lawyer who drew up the will for you.
Often, a planned gift is one in which the income benefits to the organization have been deferred to some future time, hence the term "deferred gift." A gift of a personal residence, in which a party retains the right to live in the house for the rest of his/her life, is an example of a deferred gift. Not all planned gifts are deferred gifts, however. An individual may set up a type of trust which will provide income to a charity for a number of years and then have the principal returned to them, a family member, or other beneficiary. The benefits to the charity are immediate and undeferred, but it is still a planned gift.
Planned gifts are looked upon favorably by the IRS. Donors of planned gifts enjoy certain tax advantages. Planned gifts can reduce your current year income taxes, minimize or avoid capital gains taxes, or reduce your future estate taxes. Depending on the size and type of planned gift made, one may be able to carry forward the income tax savings for up to five additional years. Some planned gifts, such as a charitable lead trust, may allow you to pass your assets to your heirs while supporting your favorite charity and avoiding or reducing estate taxes. This type of gift may be best for those people for whom the income from the asset is less important than preserving its value intact for their children, grandchildren, or others.
What are the ways a person can make a planned gift? There are a number of categories: Bequests, trusts, annuities, gifts of life insurance, retained life estates, and pooled income funds. The nature of planned gifts allows each situation to be tailored to the specific goals and individual needs of the donor. Planned gifts also allow you to use assets that you may not have thought of using to fund charitable gifts--e.g., real estate, life insurance, closely-held stock, appreciated securities, deferred compensation plans, or other personal property.
You may ask why is this important to SAA? Planned gifts will allow our membership to financially support the programs and mission of SAA in a significant manner. Because planned gifts often accrue to SAA at a date in the future, planned gifts support and enhance the long-term goals of fiscal stability and continued service to our membership. Planned gifts are often directed to endowment funds, such as the SAA Endowment Fund, the Native American Scholarship Fund, and the Public Education Initiatives Fund. Planned gifts may be designated for special projects, new initiatives, or current operations. You, the donor, can designate the purpose for which the funds are to be used and can be assured that the careful management of these monies in perpetuity will benefit future generations of archaeologists.
In future issues of the Bulletin, I will cover each of these planned giving methods in more detail and provide examples of how they work. If you have a question about planned giving, are considering a bequest to SAA, or are considering a planned gift as your year-end gift, please contact Tobi Brimsek or me through the Society for American Archaeology, 900 Second Street NE, Suite 12, Washington, DC, 20002, (202) 789-8200, email email@example.com. We would be pleased to talk with you and answer your questions.
Kurt R. Moore, SAA member and formerly a professional archaeologist, is now director of corporate and foundation relations at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Previously he served as director of planned giving at two other institutions. He is a member of the SAA Fund Raising Committee and has volunteered his services to help SAA with its fundraising efforts.