The Federal Reserve recently reported that household net worth in the United States is at an all-time high. The growth in 2013 alone was $9.8 trillion, or 14 percent. The ongoing economic recovery has led to a drop in unemployment figures and a rise in the value of real estate, stocks, and other investments. Improving economic conditions such as these have historically led to a boost in charitable giving.
In May of this year, the Dow Jones stock index hit a record high, thereby increasing the amount of appreciated assets available to fund current or deferred gifts. Charitable gift planning can be employed to make gifts while also avoiding spikes in income that could lead to additional income, capital gains and healthcare taxes. Such gifts may also generate valuable itemized deductions.
Demographic trends also bode well for philanthropic activity. By the end of this year, all baby boomers will be in their early 50's to late 60's. Many are in the midst of their peak earning years and are seeing a significant increase in their personal net worth. As boomers reportedly give more to charity each year than any other age group, they are likely to share this prosperity with others.
Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Census, the 85+ population group is now the fastest-growing segment of the population. The growing number of people in the later stages of life should provide a significant boost to the pool of traditional planned gift prospects. Traditionally, the majority of charitable gifts that occur at death come from this group. In fact, according to federal estate tax returns, more charitable bequests are received each year from those 90 and older than from all persons under 80. -Barlowe Mann, The Sharpe Group
What does this mean for the Moravian Church? Now is the time to invite members to remember their church/Moravian agencies in their plans. Recently a 72-year-old Moravian shared he received at least 5 planned gift solicitations a week, whether from his university, a cancer organization, his grandchild's private school, or his community's arts foundation. While he has included his Moravian Church in his will, he had to seek out information on the church's funds and its endowment policies, rather than the church being active in educating members and encouraging generosity.
The good news is the Moravian Ministries Foundation is here to help! Your church leadership doesn't have to come up with a planned giving program; we offer one at no-cost because we believe it is that important for each church to invite its members to be generous in their estate plans. To learn more about our church-based GiftLegacy program, please click here. We help church leadership identify funds and outline policies, we develop materials to educate members about funds and gift options, and we write articles for the church's communications. It is an intensive effort for the first year, with our staff working in conjunction with the church leadership and pastor(s). Again, the program is free (with the exception of one mailing cost).
Paul McLaughlin would love to share more about the GiftLegacy program with you; we are working with six churches right now and would love to add yours to the list. Give him a call to get started today.