If you could do anything, what would it be? That's the key question Community Foundation of Sarasota County administrators asks when they sit down with potential donors.
With assets of over $120 million and more than 455 pooled funds, the foundation awards some $5 million in grants to organizations and scholarships to worthy students annually. Donors can participate in a lot of different ways.
"I tell people good planning creates great gifts," says Tom Waters, vice president of charitable planning. "By thinking ahead about which asset to donate and what timing makes the most sense, they're usually able to give 20 percent to 30 percent more than had they made the decision to give right then." Donors are always referred back to their estate planning attorneys, C.P.A.s and financial advisors "to ensure the techniques we're talking about make sense for them."
Most importantly, says Waters, "Our Family First gift planning helps families ensure that they, their families and the causes they care about are all well-taken care of."
Here are four different ways donors are making their charitable dreams come true:
ONE VISION, ONE GIFT
Longtime Sarasotan Leila Gompertz gave an outright gift of $2 million to build the Community Foundation's beautiful new home, the Gompertz Center. Since its opening in August 2004, more than 7,000 people have trained or planned their charitable efforts here. "Leila's vision was to create a permanent place for philanthropy, grant makers and nonprofits to come together and support all the things they care about," says Waters. "Her $2 million gift has turned into a $5 million asset for the community." Gompertz also has planned an income-producing future gift that will create an endowed fund to support several human services causes.
ENCOURAGING OTHERS TO GIVE
Donna Pickard recently created a donor advised fund called the Pickard Circle of Light Fund to bring nationally renowned speakers to Sarasota to provide inspiration for all of us to use our gifts for good in our community and beyond. In doing so, she is receiving current income tax savings through generous contributions to the fund. Additionally, her future estate plan will help the needy locally, nationally and internationally through donations to grassroots human service agencies of her choosing and AIDS organizations in Africa. The Community Foundation and her children will distribute these funds on her behalf.
CHARITY STARTS AT HOME
A longtime donor who wishes to remain anonymous blazed a trail by establishing a life estate with the donation of his Siesta Key condominium, which he will enjoy inhabiting for the rest of his life and which then will provide ongoing funding to several charities of his choice. "Real estate is increasingly an important vehicle of giving," says Waters, especially as properties skyrocket in value. "It provides current income tax savings and future estate tax savings without any direct current impact to the donor." And it's extremely flexible; the donor can even rent or sell the condo (with the foundation's permission) if he wishes. The current income tax deduction can be substantial; on donating a $1 million residence, for example, Waters says the donor gets an approximately $700,000 deduction that he can carry over six years.
A FOUNDATION OF GIVING
Lee Wetherington created the Wetherington Foundation, a supporting organization through the Community Foundation, to provide ongoing support to the causes near and dear to his heart, primarily the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota and Manatee counties and scholarships to needy children. Wetherington's successful home building business gives him an opportunity to give back. And the Community Foundation makes it easy to reach his philanthropic goals without having to worry about them because it takes care of their administration. Wetherington calls it "the easiest and most rewarding way to give back to the community."