Wisconsin Changes Gift Annuity Regulation,
Highlights Planned Giving Compliance Issues
Legislation making significant changes to Wisconsin’s gift annuity regulation was recently adopted when Wisconsin Act 271, Senate Bill 152 became effective April 18th, 2014. With its enactment, it is no longer necessary for charities to register with, or submit annual reports to, the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. However, organizations must still comply with certain requirements. The changes in Wisconsin serve as a reminder of the importance of planned giving compliance for fundraisers.(4/22/2014: A small update to Planned Giving Manager and Gift Annuity Manager will be released soon to accommodate clients that issue annuities (or are considering it) in Wisconsin. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.)
REMINDER: If you are a current PGM client and have not received a link to the update reflecting changes to WI law, please contact Client Services (888-474-2252).
Organizations that have existing gift annuities in Wisconsin need to send notice of the new law to the “policy owner or beneficiary, whichever is appropriate.” In instances where the donor is not the annuitant, it probably is preferable to send the notice to both. In all likelihood, most donors and annuitants were not aware of the requirements under the prior law. Therefore, in addition to advising about the change a charity may wish to include in its notice a statement that the change in no way alters the charity's obligation under the agreement.
Implications for gift annuity issuers (and those that want to issue)
Going forward, in order to issue gift annuities in Wisconsin a charity needs to have been in existence for at least 3 years, and include the following disclosure language in the annuity agreement: “A qualified charitable gift annuity is not insurance under the laws of Wisconsin and is not subject to regulation by the commissioner of insurance of Wisconsin or protected by an insurance guaranty fund or an insurance guaranty association.”
This change in Wisconsin highlights the importance of staying on top of changes in gift annuity regulation and planned giving compliance. Of significance to a charity already registered in the state, the new law adds, changes, and removes requirements (the notice, disclosure language, and annual filing, respectively). For a charity that had not been issuing in the state, the decrease in the level of regulation may change that, particularly if the reason for not issuing was that the prior level of regulation was viewed as too high when compared with a low number of prospective donors in the state.
A lack of awareness about changes to gift annuity regulation can result in wasted time or resources, the possibility of a legal challenge, or lost gift opportunities. Keeping up to date on state regulations means your organization won’t be doing things it doesn’t need to do, will be doing the things it does need to do, and will be making informed decisions about whether it can issue in a particular state.
UPDATE 4/23/2014: Our deepest apologies for any implication that all Wisconsin-ites are Cheeseheads, and thanks to PG Calc client Catherine Yekenevicz from Cedar Community for standing up for Badger Nation! ;)