Big Moments in Planned Giving: Where Were You When...?

Depending on our ages, we pretty much all remember what we were doing when Pearl Harbor was attacked, President Kennedy was assassinated, or the World Trade Center was toppled.  Of course, important events aren’t always horrific ones, so fortunately moments of joy and elation – whether historical, personal, or professional – come to mind for us as well.

As I think back on what I was up to as certain key developments in planned giving were taking place, I find that most of the time I was simply seated at my desk.  Nothing especially unusual about that.  Nevertheless, on at least a handful of cases I was doing something else and can now appreciate the significance of those occasions.

In May of 1999, I was co-chair of my planned giving council’s annual conference here in Seattle. Having been up late the night before wining and dining our speakers and picking up materials from the printer, I was not a good candidate for stopping by my office extra early the next morning on my way to the conference facility. Yet for some reason, I did make it in briefly to check my e-mail and learned that the IRS had extended until June 30, 2000 the window for flipping CRUTs subject to a net income limitation. This was in the days before handheld devices with wi-fi connections were ubiquitous, and in announcing the news from the podium as the conference began, it became clear that I was relaying a tidbit that no one else had learned yet. To this day, I continue to see NIMCRUTs and NICRUTs that were flipped during the extended period and recall in particular a race to help flip one just as the window was about to close.

While driving down Interstate 5 just a few months later, I heard a radio report that President Clinton had vetoed legislation that would not only have repealed the federal estate tax but also permitted IRA charitable rollovers. Both those aspects of the bill eventually became law, although not necessarily in ways any of us would have imagined.

And about a decade ago I was doing something in the file room when I was told there was a reporter on the line who wanted to interview me about the recent decrease in the standard capital gains tax rate from 20% to 15%. I opined confidently that it really wouldn’t have that much effect on charitable giving, a view I have long since ceased to hold.

While I could doubtless dredge up other tales, I wonder what memories other gift planners have of different milestones in the evolution of our field.