Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Charitable Gift Fund

I've been mulling over the idea of opening up a charitable gift fund with Fidelity. It's basically like setting up a mini foundation. Here's a summary of how the giving account works from Fidelity's website:

- Contributions to the Gift Fund are eligible for current-year tax deductions, and are then available to recommend grants now, or in the future. And, your contributions have the opportunity to grow and help make a greater charitable impact through the Gift Fund's investment pools, which benefit from access to a fund universe of approximately 2,000 Fidelity and non-Fidelity mutual funds.
- Make an irrevocable contribution of $5,000 or more in cash (by check or wire), securities, or other property and establish a Giving Account. Build the balance by making additional contributions of $1,000 or more at any time.
- Any IRS-qualified public charity is eligible – those you've supported for years, or new ones you discover using our research tools. Recommend grants of $100 or more online, via phone or fax, or by mail – on the timetable that works best for you and the causes you care about.
- Donate securities that provide the most tax benefit. Eliminate capital gains tax on gifts of long-term appreciated securities.

Last year, I gave away approximately 12% of my gross income to charitable donations. And I plan to do the same this year. But as I've mentioned in the past, I'm planning on quitting my day job next spring and hopefully, going back to school full time in the fall. There's a remote possibility that I might be able to work part time for my current employer, on a contract basis. But it's kind of just talk at this point. In any event, my income will drop substantially next year. And I won't have as much income in 2007 to offset any deductions. So, it would make sense to set up a charitable gift fund and have the tax advantages hit this year. Also, I know myself pretty well. And the temptation to hoard my wealth will become greater as my income drops. Since any contributions that I make to the charitable gift fund are irrevocable, it'll be a good way of helping me maintain the discipline of giving, even during the years when I'm still in school.

The only down side that I can see is that Fidelity charges a $100 fee each year to maintain the account. But I'm wondering if I'm missing something here?

Does anyone out there have any direct experience with a charitable gift fund?

No comments: