Sarah Hanley

We all have Catholic institutions and ministries we feel called to support and that are close to our hearts. Our parishes, our grade schools, high schools, colleges, the Catholic Charities Appeal, or any organization with whom we have an affinity.

All have a profound meaning in our lives because we believe in their mission and because they are deeply rooted in our faith. That is why we donate our time, talent and financial resources to help strengthen their mission.

One way each one of us can help assure that these good works continue is by including these organizations, parishes and ministries in our planned giving plan. A planned gift is how to leave your legacy for future generations.

Whether it be a specified bequest amount in a will, or a gift of cash, stock, life insurance, an IRA, or some other tangible asset — when you make a planned gift, you are investing in the future of those missions that mean the most to you.

Nonprofits, such as your parish, depend heavily on the support of planned gifts to contribute to their fiscal health and longevity.

“Like many city parishes, St. Francis de Sales is a lively but small Catholic community. As we seek to maintain our day-to-day operations while also preserving our historic church, we rely on the generosity of current and former parishioners who remember us in their will. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that many parishes could not survive without such gifts,” said Father Eric Banecker, pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Philadelphia.

Making a planned gift is easy and there are many options available. Your first step should be talking with a trusted financial adviser. This can be a financial planner, an accountant or someone at an organization such as The Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia (CFGP), who can help you identify your goals and what the best way is to achieve them.

Many people think a planned gift is something that is only feasible for the very wealthy. That is not true. Everyone has the capacity to create their lasting legacy through a planned gift. The easiest and most common way is to make a bequest in your will of a specific amount or percentage of your estate. An “estate” refers to any amount of money or property owned by an individual, especially at the time of their passing.

For many, a bequest allows them to make their largest gift to an organization, foundation, parish, or school because it does not impact their income while they are alive.

In the United States alone, it is estimated that nearly $68 trillion will be transferred through some sort of a planned gift over the next 25 years. A significant reason for this is the tax benefits that can come from planned giving. Gifts of appreciated stocks, bonds, or mutual funds can have substantial tax benefits and allow you to avoid paying capital gains tax.

One of the best tools for planned giving, however, is a Donor Advised Fund. This is a customized, personal giving account that allows you the flexibility to be actively involved in making grant recommendations for the ministries you care about most.

There are organizations, such as CFGP, that specialize in working with individuals to create Donor Advised Funds, while assuming the administrative and distribution work as well as the investment management of the account.

There is an abundance of information available about planned giving. CFGP provides many resources, including a comprehensive guide to assist with planned giving, available on its website: thecfgp.plannedgiving.org.
The most important thing to remember when prayerfully considering planned giving is that it is an opportunity to continue the charitable work you are doing now, and that the groups to whom you currently support rely heavily on you. It is important that your legacy of generosity live on for future generations.

If you have questions about how to include your parish or another Catholic organization in your planned giving arrangements, reach out to the experts at The Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia or your trusted financial planner, and they will help you create the strategy that is best for you.

At the end of our life, we shall all be judged by charity.” — St. John of the Cross

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Sarah Hanley is the president and CEO of the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia.