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From left to right: Maria Teresa Kumar, Shiza Shahid and Robert Ross (President and CEO, The California Endowment) at the Council on Foundations 2016 Annual Conference.

From April 9 to April 12, I had the good fortune to be part of the Council on Foundations 2016 Annual Conference. The Council welcomed nearly 1,400 leaders in the philanthropic sector to Washington, D.C., for plenary programs and concurrent sessions focused on "the Future of Community through the lenses of identity, purpose, and place." Here are four of my biggest takeaways from the Conference:

1. When you want to fill a room to capacity, talk about the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. One concurrent session was so popular that attendees filled the seats, stood along the walls and sat on the floor. The topic that drew this crowd was "Philanthropy Outside the Tax-Exempt Model." The discussion covered the alternative vehicles for individual and corporate giving, such as public benefit corporations, L3Cs and B-Corp certified companies, which have been embraced by a new generation of philanthropists, most notably Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan.

Posted in Philanthropy

Close up of finger touching calculator3 Things to Remember About Documenting Charitable Gifts of Property, Securities and Art.

Last month in this blog, we described five ways to be diligent about documenting charitable gifts of cash or out-of-pocket expenses to preserve your tax deduction. But what about gifts of property – does giving something other than cash change the taxpayer’s responsibilities? According to the tax regulations, the answer is no and yes.

Posted in Philanthropy

Tax Form- Charitable Deductions

How can you determine if you’re allowed to claim a charitable deduction for amounts you paid to support your favorite charities? And what paperwork do you need in hand before you can claim that charitable deduction? Here are five ways to observe the requirements for charitable gifts of cash.

Every Massachusetts homeowner should be aware of the opportunities that are available for protecting the equity in the family home. A recent bankruptcy case, In re: Nealon, reminds us of one such opportunity – the Massachusetts homestead exemption -- and its power to stave off creditors, especially when the homeowner takes the simple steps necessary to maximize the amount entitled to protection.

Posted in Estate Planning

If you already understand what a typical estate plan looks like, you can skip to the next paragraph. Put simply, it is more than just a will. Instead, a typical estate plan contains four documents: a will, revocable trust, health care proxy and power of attorney. The health care proxy and power of attorney are designed to operate during your lifetime, while the will and revocable trust control how your property is dealt with after your death. The will tends to be a relatively simple document by which you give away your personal belongings and name the personal representatives who are to administer your estate. The trust, on the other hand, distributes the balance of your assets among the people (and charities) you care about and names the trustees who will administer the trust property according to your wishes. The trust is necessarily more complex than the will, because it is where the tax planning provisions are found.

Foundations are effective vehicles for families who want to make a collective philanthropic impact now and for generations to come. Traditionally, foundations have achieved this impact solely through strategic grantmaking. A growing number of foundations are looking for ways to go further, however. These foundations seek strategies that will allow them to deploy their investment portfolios – in addition to grantmaking – to advance their charitable missions without hurting the value of their endowments long-term. One such strategy, using “mission-related investments” or MRIs, is trending in the press and at sector conferences, but most foundation directors and trustees have yet to jump on its bandwagon. New guidance from the IRS may change that.

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