How do you turn a $20,000 gift into an ever-expanding charitable fortune? Endow a permanent fund.
"A bequest could be the most important charitable gift you ever make," says the New York Community Trust.
We're not talking about any old charitable bequest, however. We're talking about a bequest that sets up a PERMANENT endowed fund, placed in the safe care of a community foundation like the Trust. "Permanent" means the principal is never spent (more or less; read the fine print).
There are two advantages.
First, there are the guaranteed annual grants that a permanent endowed fund produces for its designated charity or cause. That money goes directly into doing good, year after year. The amount given out in grants is typically something like 4.5% of the principal's value.
Second, there's the growth. A permanent fund's guaranteed growth can turn a relatively modest bequest into a good-sized fortune, given time.
(1) The Rhode Island Foundation figures that a $20,000 charitable bequest that creates a permanent endowment will, in 50 years, grow to more than $368,000 in principal ... and, over the same half-century, give away more than $300,000 in gifts to the beneficiary charity or cause.
(2) The New York Community Trust calculates that a $100,000 gift bequest will grow in 50 years to $1,488,000 in principal while ALSO giving away $578,000 in grants.
Results vary, of course. The Rhode Island Foundation and New York Community Trust are uncommonly good at investing, so their endowed funds do uncommonly well.
Ask your local community foundation about its spending policies for endowed funds. A community foundation should have something like a "spending cap," which stipulates how much of the principal's value can be spent each year on grants. Just so you know, spending more than 5.5% of a fund's annual income on grants tends to shrink the endowment rather than increase it.
And on a related topic...
Research shows that the number one reason why people do not include charitable bequests in their wills is that the idea never occurs to them. And yet current donors are very willing to consider the idea.
If you're interested in learning how to bring in more of these "tomorrow dollars" (i.e., charitable bequests), get your hands on a new book called Iceberg Philanthropy.
The core of this provocative book is original research funded by its publisher, Canada's FLA Group, and Mal Warwick. The research quizzed donors who made frequent small gifts about their charitable bequest intentions -- and discovered an almost-untapped philanthropic bonanza.
Of course, everyone's heard about the huge transfer of wealth that will occur as the generation that birthed the Boomers passes from this earth. Relatively little of that transfer currently ends up in charities' pockets, though.
Why? Because the major gifts' strategy pursued by most charities is dead wrong, this book convincingly argues.
If your charity does well with direct mail, you can do very well indeed with charitable bequests, perhaps even doubling your income. Or so Iceberg Philanthropy
argues. I read the book on a two-hour flight. It won't take you long to see if this new way of marketing end-of-life giving is right for you.