Over the last 40 years, The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation has become a well-respected philanthropic resource. The Community Foundation’s goal is to make giving convenient and efficient for donors through donor-advised funds—which are charitable giving accounts that help maximize and organize philanthropic dollars. The organization has grown into one of the largest community foundations in the country.
When the pandemic struck earlier this year, the organization saw an outpouring of donations and much-needed support for nonprofits working in and around Kansas City. “For us, philanthropy in our community has risen to the occasion,” says Debbie Wilkerson, the president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. “We partnered with three other organizations on the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, so we had the opportunity to see the heart of Kansas City beat. There was an outpouring of contributions to support the people who were already on the edge and struggling.”
From the get-go, donors gave generously—which Wilkerson says wasn’t much of a surprise. “It made me proud,” she says. “Donors were granting at a record pace and that’s what we did for most of the second quarter—we helped them deploy their resources. Even through this pandemic, people are still contributing to their donor-advised funds and planning for future giving.”
Wilkerson says there are three key benefits to giving through a donor-advised fund when considering effective, mindful charitable donations. First up?
1) Organized and Efficient Giving
For donors, there’s never been a better time to have a donor-advised fund—especially if they’re increasing their philanthropical footprint, says Wilkerson. “There is so much need right now,” she says. Not only can donors easily access their historical giving records, but the Community Foundation can research specific charities or areas of interest for donors.
Savvy philanthropic advisors are on standby to help address specific needs—like if donors want insight on, say, pandemic-specific organizations. “If you’ve heard of a couple of new organizations and need advice or input, our philanthropic advisors are here to help,” says Wilkerson.
Want to help a specific cause or issue, but not sure where to turn? Wilkerson says her team is ready to assist with their vast knowledge and know-how. “Maybe you want to know about grassroots organizations in our community working with families facing eviction issues,” she says. “It’s an easy way to explore issues that are concerning you.”
For many donors, IRS questions come fast and furious around this time of year. “There are plenty of rules around what is deductible and what’s not,” says Wilkerson. “We help donors sort through all those IRS rules—gift by gift and grant by grant.”
2) Tax Planning/Benefits
When donors set aside dollars for charity, tax rules are often designed to help support them. “It’s something that ultimately benefits our community and our country—and there is a tax benefit for that,” says Wilkerson. “It’s important to maximize that in the best way possible. We help donors with timing and what works in their financial world.”
For example, donors may receive charitable deductions for giving cash to their charitable funds, but could receive more for appreciated assets (e.g. stocks)—in lieu of cash. “You can avoid the capital gains on selling that particular stock and still receive the maximum amount to give away to charity,” says Wilkerson.
Complex assets—such as real estate or business interests—can also be donated to a donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation. “We can help sell complex assets and turn them in to charitable dollars and avoid capital gains,” says Wilkerson. Again, many donors agree turning in one receipt at the end of the year is ideal as opposed to chasing down a potentially endless paper trail. “One receipt. One. But, yet, donors can grant out to the tens, sometimes hundreds of different charities they support,” says Wilkerson. “It really is convenient.”
According to Wilkerson, this is the single most important reason people set up donor-advised funds. “It’s not only people passing their funds on to future generations; it’s about donors keeping their memory and legacy alive,” she says. “Our philanthropic advisors work to continue your giving beyond your lifetime.”
The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation also provides virtual learning opportunities for donors—everything from giving strategies to charitable landscapes. “And there are also lots of opportunities for donors to involve their children or grandchildren in these decisions,” she says. “We’ve helped facilitate family meetings where children become inspired on areas where they want to make an impact.”
Wilkerson says now more than ever, the work they are doing at the Community Foundation is encouraging on a number of levels—especially during these pandemic-challenged times. “For the work we’re doing, we’re inspired. It’s exactly what we’re here for,” she says. “This is our purpose—to help donors give and support the causes they care about.”