Welcome to the LACGP Newsletter. This e-newsletter is sent out on a monthly basis. The newsletter provides links to this page. Please see below for the items that appeared in the February 2022 issue.

Western Regional Planned Giving Conference 2022

On behalf of my Conference Co-Chair Nancy Baxter, myself (Cari Jackson Lewis), LACGP member and Conference Lead Volunteer Valerie Bowman, and the entire Los Angeles Council of Charitable Gift Planners leadership, we are pleased to invite you to join us at the Western Regional Planned Giving Conference (WRPGC) on May 25-27, 2021 at the beautiful Westin South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, California.

Our theme this year is “The Future of Fundraising: Adding Cutting Edge Tools to the Gift Planning Toolbox.”  We are delighted to say that our educational sessions, based on three tracks of “Competence,” “Capacity,” and “Careers and Connections,” are chock-full of all the tools you need to succeed within the ever-more-professionalized and sophisticated world of charitable gift planning.  There’s no way to be on autopilot here – we are helping future practitioners gear up for the trip of a lifetime!

This two-and-a-half-day lively and powerful educational experience and networking extravaganza traditionally attracts development professionals, charitable gift planners, accountants, lawyers, wealth managers, financial institutions, insurance executives, advancement experts, marketing and communications professionals, professional education representatives, academics, industry specialists, philanthropic consultants, and allied professionals from across the country.

Mission Control is the gorgeous Westin South Coast Plaza, where we return to our in-person Conference for the first time since 2019!  We navigators will blast off on Wednesday, with our Primer for new gift planners and our brand new interactive “21st Century Philanthropy Advisor” Masterclass for advanced professionals. 

On Thursday morning we’ll refuel and prepare for lift-off with “The Philanthropy Apocalypse” by Keynote Speaker John Kobara, “Chief A** KickerTM, formerly of the California Community Foundation, and Founder of Random Acts of Progress, LLC.  Hang onto your space suits – John is going to take us on a wild, interactive moonshot through the philanthropic universe!

Attendees will then rocket through the three Educational Tracks, learning state-of-the-art information from experts in the field, who will convey current and practical information about planned giving techniques, including charitable trusts, insurance, donor advised funds, gifts of complex assets, mission-related and program-related investments, how to make boss career moves in philanthropy, and more. 

Harvard-educated Humorist at Law Sean Carter will launch part two of Thursday’s agenda with laughs, legal quips and ethical conundrums to solve -- all in between guffaws. By Thursday’s end, everyone will be moonwalking to the intergalactic cocktail party with drinks that will be out of this world!

We start reentry on Friday morning, avoiding UFOs but embracing CRTs; fleeing Martians but chasing major gifts; and triumphantly splashing down with our Closing Keynote by Daniel Allen Sims, who will reveal the role of JEDI values in transformational giving.   

But wait! There’s more!  Back by popular demand, we are delighted to bring back our supersonic pre-conference “Wisdom Wednesday” sessions!  We are thrilled that we are able to create a hybrid experience by again offering our Wisdom Wednesdays on Zoom.  To ensure that we are giving our attendees all the educational and networking experiences that we can provide, we are partnering with several dynamic speakers to present this important content for our audience in the lead-up to our Conference dates. This series of webinars provides even more value to our attendees by allowing registrants to watch these recorded sessions later (where available).

Attendees can orbit the Conference rooms in our starship of welcoming comradery and networking exploration while visiting our amazing LACGP Partners at the vendor tables throughout the Conference. Finally, WRPGC 2022 attendees are eligible to receive CLE and MCLE credit from the State Bar of California; CPE continuing education credits for CPAs; CSPG continuing education credits for Planned Giving; and CFRE continuing education credits for Fund Raising Executives.

Whew! The 2022 Western Regional Planned Giving Conference is an outstanding opportunity for planned giving and allied business professionals to inspire and be inspired, and to learn, reflect, engage, promote and improve. From beneficiaries to bequests, CGAs to IRAs, cost basis to capital gains, and Income to ILITs, charitable gift planning is the final frontier of fundraising. Join us as we boldly go where we haven’t been since 2019!!

The ACE Act - Perspectives From the Philanthropic Community

By Cynthia Hizami, Esq., Legislative Chair

In 2021 we all heard about potential legislative changes to our tax laws.  As we jump into 2022, many of the proposals did not come to fruition, and others are still stalled in Congress. The recent Advocacy Update panel on February 17, 2022, presented by the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners spoke about what is on the horizon.

Of special interest is the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act concerning possible changes to Donor Advised Funds (DAFs), which seems to be receiving more and more attention. DAFs have been a part of philanthropy for the past century but were not defined in the Code or Regulations until 2006, in the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (Pub. L. No. 109-208). Since then, DAFs have exploded in popularity, and serve as an easy way to streamline one’s charitable contributions without the cost and other burdens associated with the creation and handling of a private foundation. The ACE Act would place restrictions on the way DAFs are to be handled by the administrators of those funds as well as some of the benefits currently enjoyed by donors. These include limiting the timing and number of charitable deductions, annual minimum distribution requirements of not less than five percent and the imposition of possible excise taxes similar to the way private foundations are regulated.

Christy Eckoff, Principal, Significance Ventures, Lisa Chmiola, member of the U.S. Government Relations Committee, AFP International, David Kass, Vice President Government Affairs, Council on Foundations and Philip Purcell, Editor, Planned Giving Today, spoke about the fact that there seems to be an assumption that donors using DAFs are stockpiling funds rather than using those assets for charitable purposes. The National Philanthropic Trust 2021 DAF Report suggests that is not the case, and in fact the payout rate from DAFs has surpassed 20% for every year on record. (For the report itself, please click here.) There is concern in the philanthropic community the ACE Act would create a ceiling of the five percent for annual grants from DAFs, rather than encourage increased giving. They cautioned we should beware of unintended consequences, and this Act appears to move the focus away from being donor centric.

At this point no one knows if the ACE Act will move forward and if so, what the final terms will be.  We will all be on the lookout should there be momentum in Congress on DAF changes.

“Turning it Back Around”

By Jill Rode and Aaron Levinson

We’ve all had at least one of those situations where we had a donor who planned to leave a planned gift to our institution, but something happened to change that donor’s mind. Perhaps the donor became angry about something, or there was a misunderstanding, or they had a change of heart. What do you do in these situations? You can’t win them all, but sometimes you can win them back. We spoke with Jill Rode, director of legacy giving at the Music Academy of the West, and Aaron Levinson, planned giving director at the Los Angeles Jewish Home, to see how they handled situations like these.

Tell us about your donor who had a change of heart? What led to this? 

JR: I joined the Music Academy of the West in February 2020, directly before the pandemic began. For a brief month, I had made plans to meet many of our legacy donors, including Encore Society members and prospects. When we were sent to work from home and all meetings cancelled, I had to pivot to calling donors to build relationships. I made more than 600 calls that year!

One of the calls I made was to Encore Society was to Shirley Stanwick*. Shirley was listed in our database as an Encore Society member. Upon calling her to meet her, I was subjected to a barrage of discontent. She let me know in no uncertain terms that she had removed the Academy from her estate plan. And, she proceeded to inform me about all the ways the Academy had disappointed her, including the incident which angered her enough to remove us from her plans. 

While Shirley had been a dedicated volunteer and women’s auxiliary member for nearly 30 years, she had removed the Academy from her plans because she believes she didn’t receive appropriate and adequate recognition and thanks for a donation made more than 10 years prior. She specifically stated that our CEO had not recognized her contribution. From that point on, she had decided to remove herself from supporting the Academy even though she loved our mission as well as classical music. 

AL: I’ve told this story many times, so some may have heard this. Shortly after I took over the planned giving desk at the Jewish Home, I got a call from the CEO. A donor’s attorney had reached out to the CEO to complain that no one had been paying attention to his client and that the donor was on the verge of changing her mind. My position had been unfilled for some time, so the donor definitely had a point.

What was your personal reaction when you found out? 

JR: Of course, I wanted to know the other side of the story! After the call, I met with my boss to determine what had happened and if she truly should be removed as an Encore Society member. As you might imagine, our Advancement Team did feel that recognition and thanks had been offered in the form of verbal and written acknowledgements. However, perception is reality, and the donor believed that this wasn’t the case.

In addition, we honored her request to remove her from the Encore Society and from being listed in our publications as such.

AL: I was a little scared. The CEO personally reached out to me and I was nervous since I was being called out for not doing something. Fortunately, since I was new to the position, the CEO was forgiving and encouraged me to follow up with the donor.

Did you make a plan?

JR: At first, I didn’t. I was so busy with our other 150 members and getting to know them, that I put this previous donor/legacy society member aside. However, when we were able to have our Summer School and Festival in person again, I made a plan. I added her to my prospect list and made a concerted effort to communicate with her. I saw that she wanted to attend a special performance that had sold out and invited her to attend as my guest. She and I met prior to the performance to get to know one another and chat about the Academy. It was clear she was still passionate about our mission. However, every time I talked with her (in person or by phone) she continued to bring up the incident. 

And this was the challenge. It is hard to build a relationship with someone who is angry. However, I kept at it. I listened but didn’t offer a solution. Instead, I would try and steer the conversation to what was happening that day – what performance would occur, what the donor and I both enjoyed about music, how my daughter played music, how much she enjoyed France, etc.

After a few interactions, Shirley started to call me. As she didn’t have a computer or smart phone, she would call me to get updates on performances and events. We finally developed a rapport that didn’t include hearing about the “thank you incident” and how the Academy has insulted her by not acting according to her wishes.

AL: Not really. I basically jumped right away and called the donor. I really knew nothing about her and she turned out to be lovely. I asked her to lunch and she happily accepted.

What was the resolution?

JR: She hasn’t rejoined the Encore Society yet, or even made an annual gift. However, progress is being made. In December, I sent her a holiday card. She called the first week in January to thank me and also inquire about an opera screening. After chatting, she invited me to lunch at her favorite French Restaurant.

I know that we are becoming friends. And, I am hopeful that her love for the organization will overshadow an unfortunate incident and she will again support the Academy. 

AL: This particular donor and I became super close. In fact, for the last few years of her life, I visited her every week. She became like family to me. It’s no secret that she was my favorite donor. The donor’s attorney later reached out to our CEO and told her that because of my frequent visits, the donor would be doubling her bequest to the Jewish Home. I ended up being a pallbearer and a speaker at her funeral.

Would you do anything differently if you could do it all over?

JR: I would have reached out sooner. While we shy away from those donors that are challenging or difficult, they also are the most passionate and can be the most fun. They love our mission, which is why one little thing could make them so upset. Really, the most challenging of donors should be at the top of our lists – we can make them champions for our work with the right effort.

AL: I think this situation was resolved as good as it possibly could have been. I guess the only thing I might have done differently was not let the donor feel neglected in the first place. Reach out to your donors. Some may not want to hear from you or have visits, but for those who do, it will mean a lot.