Americans are a generous lot. The National Philanthropic Trust reports that, for 2015, we gave a total of $373.25 billion to “charity,” broadly defined. That includes $268.28 billion from individuals, $57.19 billion from foundations, and $18.46 billion from corporations.

Individual donations averaged $2,974. That average covers a lot of variation, of course, from true philanthropists like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who give literally billions, all the way down to families who don’t even itemize their tax deductions, yet still find room in their hearts and their pocketbooks to give.

TaxCoach has always included basic modules on cash and noncash charitable contributions. And the “Cashing Out” section of the system includes a module on charitable remainder trusts, which are a great way to avoid tax on capital gains when selling big-ticket assets like a business, real estate, or substantial block of stock.

But we’ve realized over the last couple of years that we’ve left out a lot of material that you can use to help your clients make the most of their giving – and grow your own business along the way!

Last year, we added new modules on conservation easements, donor-advised funds, private foundations, and charitable lead trusts. But now we’re excited to add a new marketing resource – a seminar kit, including PowerPoint slides and a script – that introduces audiences to the entire range of charitable giving strategies. You’ll find it, along with all the rest of our outstanding presentation materials, in the “Seminar Presentations” section of TaxCoach.

This seminar is designed for you to take to audiences at local nonprofit organizations, with a goal of helping them raise money:

  • Want to help your own house of worship? Imagine going to your priest, pastor, or rabbi and offering to present a program to help boost donations.
  • If you serve on a local nonprofit’s board (or maybe if you just want to), bring the seminar to the president and offer to present it to a select group of donors.
  • Want to turn your clients into heroes? Comb your tax-prep software to find the biggest givers in your clientele, then offer to present the program for their favorite groups.

Most nonprofits are critically dependent on donations to survive. So what director or president wouldn’t be interested in presenting this material to their supporters?

Now let’s look at the seminar itself:

  • It starts with a brief outline of how the tax code works. There are “red lights,” like IRC Section 1, which define taxable income and impose the actual tax. Then there are “green lights,” like Section 101, Section 105, 162, and 170, which carve out exclusions that cut taxable income and save tax. The purpose, of course, is to emphasize your role as a planner, who focuses on the opportunities contained in the green lights. (This is where you really distinguish yourself from your competition!)
  • Next, it categorizes charitable giving strategies into four buckets: cash, property, trusts, and charitable vehicles.
  • It walks through opportunities and limits for gifts of cash.
  • It emphasizes the critical role that valuation plays in gifts of property.
  • It introduces audiences to the specific purposes and opportunities to use charitable lead and remainder trusts. (If you’re not already familiar with these amazing entities, you’ll get a valuable education yourself!)
  • Finally, it concludes with an overview of several special purpose vehicles, including donor-advised funds, pooled income funds, and private foundations. (Use your best judgment if you want to discuss the Clinton and Trump foundations that got so much press during the 2016 election!)

You’ll find that the tone is markedly different from the rest of our popular seminar kits. Those presentations typically focus on pain rather than gain, homing in on the “10 most expensive mistakes” that whatever audience you’re speaking to makes with their taxes.

But we thought this topic called for a different approach. Essentially, you’ll be introducing your audience to the concept of proactive tax planning, then overwhelming them with information to the point where they won’t want to slip a $20 bill in the collection envelope without consulting you first!

It’s also worth mentioning that this presentation (and charitable giving in general) is a great way to help W2 clients that sometimes frustrate us because they can’t take advantage of the business and real estate strategies that present the most planning opportunities.

We’re really excited to see what you think of this new resource. So we’re asking all of you to take a look and give us your first impressions. (Email us at or post your comments on the Forum!) Then keep us posted as you take it “out on the road” and present it to actual human beings! Let us know how it’s received, what sort of questions it prompts, what sort of business it generates, and how the different approach to “pain versus gain” works for you. We love to refine and improve our materials based on your input!

Disclaimer: This blog was previously published at Tax Coach has become Tax Master Network. We didn't want our amazing clients, readers and interested tax friends to miss any of our archived content so please forgive any broken links or various referenced to Tax Coach options. update

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