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Don't Overemphasize the Technical Aspects of Planned Giving

Avoid the temptation to overemphasize the technical or to provide legal counsel.

It's easy to get lost in the technicalities of planned giving (tax deductions, tax rulings, and complex gift vehicles). Your most successful efforts will be "people-centered" and "value-centered." Your planned giving program exists to help individual Unitarian Universalists give to something in which they find great value, Unitarian Universalism. Your purpose is to make it possible for people to fulfill a desire to help our liberal religion, to help our values survive the centuries and serve future generations.

When you meet with someone, when you write a letter or something for the church newsletter, or when you create a brochure emphasize the human story, the spiritual satisfaction giving has to offer. When we commit financial resources to our religious values, great things radiate, inward and outward, strengthening our connection to the community we cherish.

One caution: In your enthusiasm to assist individuals in completing their gift plans, beware of becoming a personal advisor, offering legal or financial advice. It is inappropriate, even unethical, for a fund-raiser to exercise undue influence or direct a donor's personal affairs. It is always prudent to be mindful that your role is as a fund-raiser securing contributions for the church. That doesn't mean you are mercenary or that you cannot be of some help, but it does meant that you need to guard the boundary between providing information and becoming a donor's personal representative or certified financial planner nor attorney. Indeed, it would be a conflict of interest if you were.

To help people to find a qualified professional who can review their gift plans and advise them on their options, develop a list of reputable professionals in your community and make it readily available. Always encourage donors to seek independent qualified counsel before they commit to a gift plan of any significance or complexity.

The Unitarian Universalist Association Planned Giving staff can guide you through general rules on the tax considerations and some of the technical aspects of gift and estate planning. This is by no means a replacement for individual counsel.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, June 17, 2011.

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