Legacy giving: A conversation that’s full of opportunity

August is National Make-A-Will Month, and you may be reading articles and hearing about estate planning more this month than usual, which makes the next few weeks an especially good time to review your estate plans–or get your wills and trusts in order if you haven’t done so yet.

Charitable giving is an important part of any estate planning conversation. Certainly, bold, legacy-making plans are frequently in the news because of the high-profile people who establish them, but you too, and nearly anyone, really, can leave a legacy to support favorite charitable causes.

Here’s a primer about leaving a legacy:

Q: What is a legacy gift to a charity?

A: Think of a charitable legacy as a post-life gift that you structure in advance. Legacy gifts are often referred to as planned giving.

Q: What assets can be used to make a legacy gift? 

A: Like the gifts to charity that you are already making during your lifetime, cash, stock (especially highly-appreciated stock), real estate, life insurance, an IRA beneficiary designation (which is extremely tax effective), are examples of assets that can be the subject of a legacy gift. A legacy gift can be expressed in your estate planning documents as a dollar amount, percentage of the whole, or a legacy gift of the assets themselves. You will want to choose assets carefully, enlisting the expertise of your financial planner or attorney to do so.

Q: How is a legacy gift actually made? 

A: Legacy gifts are typically spelled out in detail in your will or trust documents. This is especially important because after you are gone, too much is otherwise potentially subject to hearsay or conflict. To attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors, this is common sense, but a surprising 2 out of 3 Americans have no estate planning documents.

Q: What are some particulars to be aware of?

A: Most legacy gifts can be revoked or altered through beneficiary or will changes during your lifetime. This is an important feature, as you can include charitable giving in your estate plans but still be flexible as your overall family and financial picture changes over the years.

Q: What tools does the community foundation offer to help?

A: A particularly useful technique is to establish a fund at the community foundation that spells out the your wishes for charitable distributions to specific organizations. Your estate planning documents can, in turn, simply name the fund as the beneficiary of charitable bequests. You can adjust the terms of the fund anytime during your lifetime to reflect evolving charitable priorities.

Want to know more details about Estate Planning in Montana check out our webinar with Marsha Geotting.

Learn more about how your legacy could establish a fund at the Community Foundation or how we could help fund the organizations you are most passionate about. Call us (406)926-2846 to set up an appointment.

*Please note that The Community Foundation does not render tax or legal advice. We ask that you consult with your professional advisor about your situation before making a charitable gift.

Structure is a critical step in multi-generational philanthropy

picture of family holding hands and walking awayInstilling the idea of charitable giving in children and grandchildren at first blush may appear to be easy, but where to begin, and how to make it ongoing? More and more, wealth advisors are being asked by their clients to weigh in on strategies for fostering a family’s financial values, which frequently include charitable giving traditions.

An important first step in creating any multi-generational philanthropy plan is to consider organizing your charitable giving, such as through a family donor-advised fund at the community foundation.

The process of organizing charitable giving itself creates much-needed clarity around your family’s philanthropic purpose. This is because without an organized approach to family giving, it is easy for children and grandchildren to get confused about their parents’ and grandparents’ processes for making decisions about which nonprofits to support.

Consider this scenario:

"Before we got everything organized through the community foundation, our family seemed to take a shotgun approach to charitable giving," commented the daughter of an entrepreneur who formed a family donor-advised fund upon the sale of a business.

Her mother, the entrepreneur, had underestimated the confusion: "Nearly every check I’d ever written to a charity was aligned with my commitment to supporting a healthy workforce in our community. Without a healthy workforce, my business would never have been successful. Now, though, I see that because I was not involving the rest of my family in my giving and explaining why I was supporting certain causes, it might have looked chaotic to them."

Establishing a fund at the community foundation can be a very effective solution for many donors who are looking to launch a multi-generational giving strategy. Here’s why:

  • Community foundation vehicles are extremely flexible and can be used to engage an extended family in the process of charitable giving. Donor-advised funds, for example, are popular because they allow the donor to name children and grandchildren as successor advisors.
  • When charitable giving is organized through a community foundation fund, the donor can make a large transfer of cash or marketable securities that is immediately eligible for a charitable deduction. Donors can recommend gifts to favorite charities from the fund when the time is right. This is especially useful in the case of those who sell a business or experience a large influx of taxable income in a single tax year.
  • Establishing a donor-advised fund at the community foundation can be a great choice for family-oriented donors. That’s because, at a community foundation, donors, as well as their children and grandchildren, are part of a community of giving and have opportunities to collaborate with other donors who share similar interests.
  • The community foundation can work with a family on a charitable giving plan that extends for multiple future generations. That is because the experienced team at the community foundation supports strategic grant making, family philanthropy, and opportunities to gain deep knowledge about local issues and nonprofits making a difference
  • Finally, the community foundation’s tools and resources make it much easier for families to communicate across generations about the family’s charitable giving purpose and goals for long-term impact.

We welcome the opportunity to work with you  to establish an enduring and rewarding family philanthropy program that is customized to meet your family's unique goals and interests.


We Raised Over $1M!

Missoula & Bitterroot Gives Raised Over $1 Million This Year!

The Missoula & Bitterroot Gives community fundraising event wrapped up last night and raised $1.1 million for area nonprofits. An initiative of the Missoula Community Foundation, Missoula & Bitterroot Gives supported over a 195 nonprofit organizations this year in Missoula and Ravalli Counties.

“This day tells such a wonderful story of who we are as a community, it celebrates the work of our nonprofits but also the generous individuals and businesses that give,” said Marcy Allen, Executive Director of the Missoula Community Foundation. “We had 196 organization raise funds and share their stories this year, a record. 245 nonprofit staff attended our pre-day trainings. We had 6,340 donations and of those 1215 were new donors to an organization. The day comes together because of hundreds of people and organizations planning the event and working behind the scenes. It is truly remarkable to see Missoula come together like this and support our non-profit sector.”

The money raised isn’t the only benefit to the organizations that participate. The campaign also provides a structure for non-profit staff, volunteers and board members to work together to reach their goals. We had 172 peer to peer fundraising who brought in almost $200,000.

“Missoula Gives platform provides a great framework for nonprofits at any level to raise funds. We hear so many great stories throughout the day, my favorite this year was about a donor who told the person who had solicited him to give ‘Thank you for asking me to give, it brought me such joy’. There is so much joy in giving and I hope every felt some of that yesterday” Allen explained.

The Missoula Community Foundation has hosted Missoula Gives since 2014 and in that time has raised over $6 million for area nonprofits. The foundation also manages charitable funds, connects donors and causes, and is a resource for planned giving.

The day officially ended at 7PM on the 5th but donations can be made through May 13th at MissoulaGives.org.

Mark your calendars for next year’s Missoula and Bitterroot Gives, May 2 & 3, 2024!

Registration for nonprofits opens always opens on February 1st.

See you next year!