By Doug Inglish–Like many of you, I start to think about what kind of gifts I want to give long before birthdays, graduations, or anniversaries arrive. You don’t want to find that the store is closed or that the online supplier is out of stock and be forced to substitute with something that’s not quite what you had in mind.

The same can apply to gifts we give to charity. It’s always easy to drop a check in the mail, but non-cash gifts take some planning. In order to get valuations, receipts, and other necessary elements of a completed gift all lined up before the end of the year, you have to plan ahead.

Non-cash gifts are often wonderful, but they are not always simple. For example, on a gift of real property, at a minimum, there must be an environmental evaluation and possibly even a professional environmental inspection. A title search may have to be done, a value has to be established by a disinterested third party, and deeds have to be prepared and signed. Stock transfers cannot be handled by the local church treasurer. They must be managed by our office during a window of time when we have several days in which banks and financial institutions are not open. Vacation times could mean that an authorized person from our office is unavailable to accept a gift on behalf of the Conference. Charitable IRA rollovers require you and us to work with your custodian, and they may have internal processes that can eat up days. And if you are thinking of donating your interest in a limited partnership, you would have to provide a slew of documents and allow for a lot of legal review.

There are really so many variables that putting everything into a short notice like this is not possible. If you are considering making a non-cash donation, the most prudent decision you can make is to talk to us now and learn what would be involved. We are happy to help, but a phone call on December 31 offering us the cabin in the mountains is not going to result in you making a tax-deductible donation that you can file with your 2020 returns.

Bless you all as you plan for the end of the year, and if you suspect, even a little bit, that we can help, by all means give us a call, and sooner rather than later.

Doug Inglish is RMC director of planned giving and trust services; photo by Unsplash