By Joe Gaafar
Unless you’re a hermit or have been living under a rock, you know that our national legislators are working on a plan to reform taxes. You may have heard that they are doing this to make reductions in the corporate tax or to make the tax code simpler or even that they are making it fairer to the Middle Class. Well, like most pieces of legislation, the devil is in the detail, and even though the bill is in Conference Committee (where the differences in the plans passed by the House and Senate are negotiated to form the final bill), we still don’t know all the information.
Below are the a few of the effects on donors and consequently charitable organizations:
As you can see, the increased Standard Deduction will not drastically affect income tax paid by taxpayers, but it will change the number of those taxpayer who itemize. Depending on their family situation, not all single and married taxpayers will be affected similarly. One estimate expects itemizers to drop from 40 million to 9 million. Thus, for up to 31 million more taxpayers, the charitable deduction will no longer reduce their taxes and present an incentive to make donations.
but for married taxpayers it could dramatically drop the number of itemizers. Since two taxpayers will be more likely to exceed the $10,000 cap, they will lose some itemizable deductions as a portion of their taxes will not be able to be used. For example, even if a married taxpayer had more than $10,000 in property tax and income tax, they would still need to have more than $14,000 ($24,000 - $10,000) in mortgage interest and charitable deductions before it would make sense to itemize. Since many other itemized deductions will be lost as part of the simplification, the impact will be fewer itemizers who get a tax benefit from making a charitable contribution.
Also, taxpayers in states with higher taxes (income or property) will more quickly reach the
$10,000 cap and potentially lose itemizable deductions. Conversely, states with lower or no income tax will not be affected as dramatically.
So What Can You Do
As a donor, one strategy is to accelerate charitable donations into 2017. With more contributions in 2017, you would be more likely to get a tax deduction. The new law would not take affect until 2018, so if you have pledges or would like to make charitable contributions, you can make them in 2017 and potentially deduct them on your return. You can also establish or contribute to Donor Advised funds this year to get the tax deduction. If you are contemplating gifts of appreciated property, you may want to accelerate those gift into 2017 by making sure to complete the transfer by December 31st.
As a charitable organization, you may want to let your donors know of this potential change in their deductibility of donations. If you have multi-year pledges or annual societies, you may wish to let donors pre-fund these gifts in 2017. Likewise, if donors are considering gifts of appreciated securities, you will want to help them get the transfers completed by December 31st.
Many charitable organizations are in the middle of capital campaigns or working with donors who are making legacy gifts. Since many of these gifts will exceed the amounts and allow deductibility (even in future years with higher Standard Deductions), you may not need to contact them immediately.
However, there may be some donors you should talk with before year end to see if they would want to make their gift in 2017 to preserve their tax deduction.
You will want to encourage more donors to use the IRA Charitable Rollover for donations. This will involve education, communication and in some cases walking donors through the process. Once a donor has made their first IRA Rollover, they will comfortable do so in future years.
Finally, as we start to consider this new world with fewer donors taking advantage of tax deductions, charitable organizations will need to reposition their message to donors. Less emphasis to the general public should be made on the tax savings aspect of gifts and more on other benefits. There will still be some who get a tax benefit for charitable gifts, but we’ll need to understand the donors situation before emphasizing it as a benefit. I’m sure as we see the impact and study it further additional strategies will become apparent. Stay tuned as we learn to navigate this new world of charitable giving.
Let me know if you would like to discuss these changes further or design strategies for your organization.
Consulting Partner | Mason Consulting Group
Sustainable Designs for Growth
6302 Keeneland Court
Indianapolis, IN 46278
The ability to use the charitable deduction and savings will vary by donor based on income tax rate, other charitable gifts and income limitations and the ability to itemize charitable deductions. This piece is not intended to provide legal or tax advise and donors should seek counsel from their attorney and/or tax preparer for the impact on their individual tax situation.
By Linda Diakite Karressy
To my amazement 2017 is almost finished. As we come closer to the New Year most organizations want to start the new fiscal year on a clean state. With your accounting function to have a clean state on January 1, preparation and work must start now. This is the perfect time to start to gather, document, and update records to complete 2017-year end accounting tasks.
Many times, organizations must work overtime to complete year end in January. This way of work causes stress and errors to occur. Here’s ten tasks your organization can complete now:
The accounting year end process does not have to be stressful. Choose one of the above tasks to complete advancing down the list over the weeks ahead until the end of the year. Once all items are completed treat yourself to a delicious holiday treat.
Challenge: Create a year-end checklist with due dates.
By Martha Bulluck
Filling open positions is necessary for employers to maintain the capacity to meet business goals and provide services. The need to find qualified talent for open positions is generally a challenge for employers in smaller communities, and who operate as smaller employers. The smaller factor is exacerbated by the current national unemployment rate, reported as 4.3% by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Under these circumstances, developing a recruitment strategy becomes necessary to increase the talent pool.
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
Expand Your Search. You can expand your recruitment to geographical areas outside of your community. A national level search may require more effort than a local search, but the results will prove worthwhile. A national level search will generate a larger number of applicants and a greater opportunity to acquire good candidates. Many resources are available to assist your organizations.
Consider the Candidates’ Perspective. Ensure that all involved in the recruitment process can generate enthusiasm when dealing with candidates. Review your job opening from candidates’ perspectives. Look candidly at your geographical area, compensation, benefits, mission and culture associated with the job opening. Be willing to candidly share positives enthusiastically with candidates.
Market Your Organization. Generate excitement about your organization. Review the job opening and benefits associated with the opportunity. Aside from salary and health benefits, do you have a good work life balance program? Think of the positive factors that may communicate your organization as a good employer to your candidate.
Market Your Area. Candidates who consider your job opening will also consider the geographical area the job is in. They must relocate themselves and they may have to relocate a family. It is important to provide information about your area that meets the interest of the candidate. So, market the positives, e.g. housing, school district, cost of living, recreational opportunities, enthusiastically.
Examine Your Compensation. Compensation is a competitive factor depending on the industry of your organization. If your organization is a compensation leader, as with some larger organizations, e.g. Eli Lilly, Anthem, Inc., Simon Property Group, Microsoft, this may not be the same challenge. But if you are a smaller organization, you may have to face whether your compensation has a hindering effect in attracting the top talent that you seek. But, also, recognize that salary is not always the deciding factor for candidates.
Pay for Relocation Costs. The thought of moving to a new city can be daunting for some candidates, as they think of the expense of moving and the exercise of packing the contents of a household. Consider paying relocation costs as part of your recruitment strategy. This has been shown to be an influencer in a candidate’s decision to relocate. Some employers have been known to also provide housing assistance, whether it is recommending a realtor or assisting with housing costs.
Conclusion. An expanded recruitment effort to the national level increases your potential for a richer candidate talent pool.
By Joe Gaafar
We all know that stocks can change dramatically in value over time. We’ve all heard, read about
and lived through times when stocks decrease in value. So, why would we invest in them in our
endowment? Wouldn’t we want to keep our endowment safe?
In many situations, stocks can be the safest and best bet to provide long term funding for your
endowment. Below are some thoughts on why using stocks makes sense for your endowment.
What is a Stock?
Stocks or equity investments are a form of ownership of a company. When you own a stock you
participate in the profit and loss of the company. You own a share of all the assets of the company.
The value of the stock is the value of the company divided by the number of shares of stock. Unlike
a bond which is a loan to a company for a set term and rate of interest, stocks will make or lose
money as the underlying company makes or loses money. Stockholders benefit when the
underlying company develops new products that sell well, find ways to reduce costs to increase
their profit margin, or increase their sales and market share through many different strategies.
But how do you value a stock or company? You could total the value of all the assets of the
company, but this would be difficult as the only true value of anything is when it actually sells. How
much could you sell that factory used to produce the company’s products? The company may
have many specialty assets that are not regularly sold and hard to value. Also, the company may
have some intangible assets such as name recognition, good will or as a going concern that again
are difficult to value.
The value could be based on the amount of revenue the company expects to generate over time
based on what it has done in the past, but these numbers are not exact and are dependent on many
assumptions. If there is a comparable business, this could be helpful, but there is unlikely to be any
exact matches to help you determine value.
All of these methods of valuation are simply trying to determine what a willing buyer and seller will
agree to in a transaction. As the business operates, these values will likely change. As the
business does better, the value of the company will likely increase.
Luckily, in today’s investing market these valuation problems have been solved. Various stock
markets have been created to trade securities, so for publicly traded stock you will have many
recent buy/sell transactions that will help determine the current price. These stocks are affected by
the same issues mentioned above and changes in revenue of the company, new products, other
companies in the same industry and a myriad of other factors. But generally as a company does
better and as the company’s environment or economy does better, stocks will increase in value.
What makes stock investments attractive?
The opportunity to share in the success of a company provides a nice opportunity to make larger
returns. These returns are documented each year by Ibbotson who calculates the average
compounded returns on stocks, bonds and inflation since 1926. Over the period 1926 through
2016, stocks have returned on average between 10.0 and 12.1 percent annually. At the same time,
US government bonds have average returns between 3.4 and 5.5 percent annually. The average
annual inflation rate has been 2.9 percent. 1
Although past performance is no guarantee of future performance, looking to the past helps us
understand how various investments have done and demonstrates why stocks have been
extensively used in long term investing. Over longer periods of time (10 years or longer), stocks
have out performed bonds almost during every period. However, when you look at shorter time
frames the drastic movement that are observed with the stocks can produce losses or times when
bonds and other investments outperform stock.
Also since stocks are the ownership of a business, stocks rise nicely when the economy and
businesses in general are doing well. As businesses succeed in times of prosperity, so will the
underlying stocks. So stocks can be a way to invest in the economy.
While stock may not be appropriate for shorter term investing, there are many advantages for using
them in longer term or endowment portfolios. Past evidence suggests (but does not guarantee) that
stocks will continue to perform well in the future. Although they are subject to short term
fluctuation, over the long term they have generally outperform other investments. When investing
your endowment, serious consideration should be given to including them in your portfolio.
1 Ibbotson® SBBI® 1926–2016 - A 91-year examination of past capital market returns provides
historical insight into the performance characteristics of various asset classes.
By Linda Diakite Karressy
In the last couple of blogs I’ve discussed how to strengthen your accounting function. In order to have an accounting function, nonprofits need to generate revenue. I want to discuss why nonprofits should rethink how to create fundraisers. Many nonprofits and boards believe fundraising events and applying for grants will solve their financial woes.
Most of the time those nonprofits and boards do not understand there’s underlying issues why they are not generating revenue.
Nonprofits need to create revenue streams that can sustain and keep the nonprofit in the spotlight. Fundraisers are one aspect of the revenue stream. The Indiana Parkinson Foundation recently held its first annual Canine Catwalk. This event had patrons bring their dogs, a fashion show was held for the dogs, and everyone was dress to impress (even the dogs). The fundraiser was unique from your typical fundraising events because of the theme and location.
When creating a fundraiser think about the following:
Your fundraisers should generate additional funds for the organization. The events should not take place so the organization can say we have fundraisers. The event should make a profit or break even in the early stages. For your accounting records ensure the revenue and expenses are classified towards the fundraiser event. You want to track year over year the profitability of the fundraiser.
You work very hard to put on fundraisers so make them worthwhile. Mostly important you and the guest should have fun!
Go to http://www.indianaparkinson.org/ to find out more about the Indiana Parkinson Foundation.
By Martha Bulluck
Distribute the employee handbook but obtain a signed employee acknowledgement was advice in a previous blog, regarding employee handbook acknowledgements. It is recommended that employee handbooks be distributed at the time of new employee orientation, but let’s look at why an employee handbook is important.
An employee handbook is a document that contains an employer’s employee policies and operating procedures. Examples of policies may include absenteeism, breaks and lunch time, code of conduct, dress codes and federally mandated policies such as the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
A well-written employee handbook is an important communication tool between you and your employees. It should:
Every employer should have an employee policy handbook, regardless of the number of employees, for the reasons listed above.
In addition to distributing the employee handbook to new employees at new hire orientation, it should be available to all employees in paper form or online. The employee handbook should be regularly reviewed to remain current and in conformance with employer policy changes and changes in employment laws. It is easy to unconsciously create contracts that limit your ability to manage your workplace. For this reason, employee policies and handbooks should be reviewed by an employment law attorney.
(The above information serves as a recommendation but in no way, represents legal advice.)
For further information on the formation of employee policy handbooks contact:
By Joe Gaafar
We’re told on so many fronts that we need to have a Planned Giving or Legacy Giving program, but
where to start. Whether its your board or your auditors, many people believe a Planned Giving
program will help a charitable organization. How do you learn about what is needed and resources
to help you get started? Also, where can you get regular information and network with other
professionals in the industry? Well, all of this and more is available at …
Charitable Gift Planners of Indiana
Charitable Gift Planners of Indiana is the local chapter of the National Association of Charitable Gift
Planners. It is an organizations made up of professionals who regularly work with Planned Giving.
Members include fundraisers at charitable organizations and professional advisors like attorneys,
accounts, financial advisors and other vendors to the Legacy Giving community. The national
association which is located here in Indianapolis provides support, information and advocacy for
Planned Giving causes. The two organizations are tremendous sources for those needing to start a
program or learn more about Planned Giving.
When and where does the local chapter meet?
Charitable Gift Planners of Indiana meet every month (except January) during the school year on the
first Thursday of the month. Usually they meet for lunch and a program delivered by a national or
regional expert in the field. They generally meet at the Willow on Westfield which is located at 6729
E. Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis. The first meeting of the year will be September 7th at 11:30 a.m.
and the program is a panel of local Planned Giving practitioners who will discuss issues around
stewarding Planned Giving donors. There should be a lot of practical information that you can put
to use. You’ll also have a chance to ask questions for more specific answers.
For more information about Charitable Gift Planners and these programs, check out their website at:
https://charitablegiftplannersindiana.org. Information includes more details about the September
event, membership benefits and how to join, and links to the national organization.
If you want to learn more about Planned Giving, Charitable Gift Planner is a fantastic place to start.
Not only will you get some great tips on Planned Giving, you’ll also meet the experts in Indianapolis
who practice in this area.
By Linda Diakite Karressy
Every board meeting includes time to review the organization’s financials (I hope so). Many times, the financials are glossed over because board members have not been trained to read the financial statements so quality questions are not asked.
For board members to assist the organization on maintaining financial stability understanding how financial statements are created is key. Financial statements are generated from transactions within the organization. Transactions have to be recorded in an accounting software or spreadsheet. The data then can be turned into financial statements. These documents serve the purpose of providing donors, grantors, and other entities a financial picture.
See below illustration on the follow financial data:
Now you’ve identified the financial statement source, what questions should be asked? Below are sample questions that can create a conversation to identify strengths and weaknesses.
It's the boards fiduciary duty to be accountable for the organization’s actions. Board members act as the trustees of the organization’s assets and must oversee its financial situation remains healthy. Each board member should seek knowledge and training to understand financial matters.
Check out the United Way of Central Indiana Nonprofit Training Center (http://www.uwci.org/programs/nonprofit-training-center). They offer affordable training throughout the year.
By Martha Bulluck
Flexible scheduling has been shown to increase employee morale, increase employee productivity, contribute to work life balance and attract prospective employees. For these reasons, flexible scheduling can be a significant HR strategy for business performance, and has been adopted by many employers since about 2004. 87 percent of organizations have experienced improved employee satisfaction and 71 percent have seen an increase in productivity. (Source: 2015 Workplace Trends/Workplace Flexibility Study)
Employers considering flexible schedules for the first time generally begin with a trial period. It is now summer with longer days and warmer nights offering employees the opportunity to enjoy more recreation time during non-work hours. Summer then is a good time to trial flexible work schedules.
There are several types of flexible schedules employers can implement for employee flexibility. Examples of flexible schedules are:
Each employer must determine the type of flexible schedule that is beneficial for them. Before implementing such a practice, employers should consider both the benefits and challenges associated with adopting a flexible schedule, policy, and the legal impact of such decisions.
Considerations to keep in mind regarding the impact on business need, employees and work culture are:
If flexible scheduling is a new approach and a trial, management should use the flexible schedule to set a good example and minimize employees’ doubt about flexible use without penalty.
The significance of flexible scheduling is as an HR strategy for increased employee morale, increased employee productivity, work life balance and as a recruiting tool to attract prospective employees.
More about this strategy and assistance with implementing a flexible schedule policy can be obtained by using the contact below.
Photo Credit: John Lund/Blend#BLD115682 Blendimages.com
The Mason Consulting Group (MCG). Thirty years of business consulting expertise helping organizations with effectiveness, growth and stability.