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The Plan in Planned Giving

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Planned giving can be an important tool when planning for the future of your estate. Some may have a desire to give to non-profit organizations, including their alma mater, a medical research project or a favorite youth organization. Whatever your desire, make sure you work with an experienced financial partner that can help guide you through the process to ensure your goals can be met.

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First, what constitutes a meaningful gift?

Quite simply, any gift is a meaningful gift. Many people are under the impression that only the very wealthy can be philanthropic. However, this is not the case. Gifts of any size are greatly appreciated by non-profit organizations, especially now as economic challenges have affected many individuals’ ability to donate while the needs continue to grow.

Motivations for gifting

The reasons for gifting vary greatly depending on the individual. Compassion for those in need, an extension of a religious or spiritual commitment, desire to share good fortune with others and memorializing the lives of others are some of the most prevalent reasons for planned gifts. You should personally evaluate your motivation and goals, and keep them in mind when determining how and when you want to support a cause.

Selecting the “right” organization

There are many worthy organizations, and choosing the non-profit that best fits your giving intentions is extremely important. Once your inspiration for giving has been clearly identified, make a short-list of potential groups. Organizations should be carefully researched and vetted to ensure you are comfortable with the final decision. It’s important to learn about a specific topic or organization, so your philanthropy can be used in a meaningful way. Once one or more organizations have been selected, a financial partner can help you define your vision, determine how the gift will be distributed and then evaluate, when possible, how the gift has been used.

Gift Options

Another item to consider is the type of gift you may want to give. Many organizations have gift acceptance policies, which may exclude certain types of donations. Things like stocks, real estate, art or other items may be quite valuable, but you should have a conversation with the organization first to ensure they are able to accept these types of gifts.  

Planned giving is an extremely meaningful and personal investment. Taking the time to evaluate these types of questions can really help individuals and organizations make the most of charitable gifts.


Jan Leonard is senior vice president and managing director for charitable trusts, private foundations and fine art services. She joined UMB in 2003 and has more than 25 years of experience in the management of private and public organizations. Leonard earned a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech University and a master’s degree in business administration from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan. She is also a graduate of the Cannon School of Foundation Management.

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