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  1. michaelrosensays

    Larry, fear is a powerful motivator especially if those flames are fanned by an "advisor." A number of philanthropists took extraordinary steps in 2012 because of their uncertainty concerning the future. Unfortunately, they appear to have been stung a bit in the process.

    As you already mentioned, tax policy does impact philanthropy in some cases, typically those involving large gifts. Tax savings is seldom what motivates someone to make a gift. More often, tax policy influences the size of the gift and the vehicle for making the gift.

    For example, I once had a donor who was ready to make a $5,000 donation. She asked, "How do I make the check out?" Before answering her question, I thanked her and asked,"Do you have any appreciated stock?" The donor was puzzled by my question. I then explained the advantage of a stock gift v. a cash contribution. Despite being a sophisticated woman of some wealth, she was unaware of the benefit of making a stock gift until I explained it. The result of this conversation was that she had her accountant calculate her tax savings. Then, making a stock donation, she increased the amount of her gift by the amount her accountant said she'd save in taxes since, as she told me later, "I don't need the money."

    While taxes may influence how much and how some people give, tax considerations almost never determine where people will give. That's because folks can get pretty much the same tax treatment wherever they donate. So, it really does all come down to mission and relationships.

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