Jan 2019 AFR: 3.4%
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Crescendo Responds to Questions About the New Tax Law

We have received many calls and emails asking for our opinion about the implications of the new tax law and its impact on charities, their donors and charitable giving.

First, let me say that I, along with the rest of the staff at Crescendo, remain encouraged about the future of fundraising for major, blended and planned gifts. You should be encouraged too. The prospect for most planned gifts including bequests, beneficiary designation gifts and other testamentary gifts remains unchanged.

Americans have continued to leave charitable bequests in recent years even though less than 1% of all estates are currently subject to the federal estate tax. While the new law doubles the estate tax exemption, meaning even fewer estates will be taxable, this will not impact bequest giving. Americans primarily make estate gifts because they wish to leave a legacy and support the causes they love --not because of potential estate tax savings. For this reason, we anticipate that most of the 1marketing for planned gifts will remain unchanged.

On the income tax side, there are several changes that could impact current giving. A goal of the new law was to simplify the tax system, including by reducing the number of people who itemize deductions while not increasing their tax burden. Because fewer individuals will now itemize, fewer will benefit from a charitable deduction. The good news is that in virtually every survey of what motivates donors to give, the potential tax benefits rate lower than many other reasons. Crescendo’s past two marketing studies have confirmed this conclusion. The primary reason people give to charity is because they believe in and wish to support the mission and good work of a cause they love.

Crescendo has designed new marketing pieces for our GiftLegacy clients with this in mind. We have also updated existing marketing to reflect the tax changes.  We hope that you will be encouraged that the future is bright for major, blended and planned gifts. We also encourage charities to market the IRA charitable rollover, since this gift option can result in current cash to a nonprofit organization. Some estimates suggest that fewer itemizers will lead to a 5% to 12% reduction in annual fund giving. However, an effective IRA rollover marketing campaign can raise a “new annual fund” of 15% to 30% of your traditional fund. In 2018, you could actually increase total annual giving to your organization with a well-organized IRA rollover campaign.

We wish you the best of success in your end of year fundraising.  Please contact us if you need assistance.  It is our pleasure to continue to serve the thousands of charities that use Crescendo products and services.  We look forward to 2018 and beyond.

Very Best,

Kristen Schultz Jaarda

Executive Vice President

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About Kristen Schultz Jaarda, JD, LLM

Kristen Schultz Jaarda

Kristen Schultz Jaarda is Executive Vice President of Crescendo Interactive, Inc. She specializes in charitable tax planning and online marketing for planned gifts. She is responsible for client education and leads Crescendo's marketing services and support team. She is a nationally recognized speaker, conducts seminars nationwide and is a principal faculty member of GiftCollege.

Kristen serves as a board member for the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) and as a member of the ACGA Rates and State Regulations Committees, Editorial Advisory Board member for Planned Giving Today, Committee Member for the ABA Charitable Planning and Organization's Group, past Legislative Chair and a board member for the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of Greater Los Angeles (PPP-LA), a member of the Ventura County Planned Giving Council and a committee member and volunteer for several California charities. She writes weekly for CrescendoTweet and her planned giving blog.

Previously, Kristen served as Counsel to the Assistant Secretary of Education in Washington, D.C. and was Oversight Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. Prior to that, she worked in a public affairs law practice. Kristen graduated from UCLA School of Law where she was Law Review Editor. She completed her Tax LL.M. with honors at Loyola School of Law. Kristen is a member of the California State Bar, D.C. Bar and the Maryland State Bar.


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