Charitable Gift Planners: Following Their Own Advice

Bob and Mary Beth Congdon use their donor advised fund to make gifts to a variety of local and national charities.

Bob and Mary Beth Congdon.

Bob and Mary Beth Congdon spent most of their professional careers as fundraisers specializing in charitable gift planning, Bob most recently for the University of New Haven and Mary Beth for Yale. For more than 40 years, they helped donors develop tax-wise charitable giving plans and saw up-close the impact that those gifts made.

“We wanted to follow our own advice for how best to support the causes we care about. One step was to establish a donor advised fund at The Community Foundation,” the Congdons said. “When we donated appreciated securities to start the fund, we were able to claim an income tax charitable deduction for the full current value of the securities, avoiding the capital gains tax we would have owed if we had sold them. By bundling our charitable gifts in that year, we were able to exceed the standard deduction, resulting in additional tax savings. We use our donor advised fund to make gifts to a variety of local and national charities.”

At the age of 72, Bob also began to make annual gifts using Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) from his retirement account, without having to count the distributions as income for federal tax purposes. The couple then created an endowed fund, funded with beneficiary designations in their individual retirement accounts and bequests in their wills — leaving tax-deferred retirement accounts to charity and other assets (including real estate) to family members, resulting in a more favorable tax outcome for individual heirs.

“We are confident that long after we are gone, our endowed fund will continue to make distributions to regional organizations that focus on basic human needs, education, the arts and environmental advocacy,” the Congdons added.