The Life Stages of Giving

Moving through life, your clients’ lifestyles and financial circumstances change. And so do the ways they might choose to support their favourite charities and community organizations.

A client’s age is the single most important piece of information to obtain before making initial contact.

People make different kinds of gifts at different times in life. Below is a summary of common charitable gift options by age.


The Early Years

Cash Donations and Active Participation

With limited means while still in school or starting a career, individuals in their twenties and younger typically make spontaneous cash donations and/or contribute by participating in special events and activities.

Monthly Giving

Increasingly, people in their thirties who are looking for easier, more convenient ways to give are choosing monthly giving programs where a specific amount is automatically donated to their favourite organization(s) each month. This is most easily accomplished through pre-authorized withdrawals from a chequing account, credit card or online.

The Middle Ages

Life Insurance

In their forties and fifties, individuals often carry their highest levels of personal debt and have the greatest need for annual tax savings. For this group, funding a charitable gift using a life insurance policy is a great way to make a significant future gift with modest current premium contributions that also generate a tax credit each year.

Listed Securities

For individuals in the highest income earning years, mid-to-late career who hold stocks, mutual fund units and/or stock options that have increased in value, funding a gift by donating these assets lets them take advantage of special capital gains tax elimination and enjoy immediate tax savings.

The Retirement Years

Estate Gifts by Will

With retirement income resources and needs much better understood, many people over age 60 begin to plan for charitable gifts in their Will. Often referred to as bequests, these gifts can be specific amounts, or all or a portion of the residue of an estate. Remember though, that any person at any age can include a charity in their Will.

Retirement Plan Accumulations

Increasingly, generous donors are beginning to designate charities as beneficiaries of the proceeds from Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs). Such decisions result in reducing the amount of tax that would otherwise be payable by the estate at death.

Real Estate

Retired donors may decide that they wish to dispose of secondary or vacation property that they or their families no longer use, or they have a commercial property which they no longer require and they may want to consider gifting the property to their favourite charity. After 2017, they can gift a portion of the sale and receive greater taxable benefit.

Charitable Gift Annuities and Remainder Interest Gifts

Those clients looking for a reliable, tax-preferred (and can be tax-free in one’s 80’s) life income stream, and a thoughtful way to support a favourite charity, have discovered that charitable gift annuities (CGA) or charitable remainder trusts (CRT) can be great ways to meet their needs. Both vehicles allow for the residual gift to be made to the charity while still providing income to the donor for their or a designates’ lifetime.

There a number of restrictions in place with respect to charitable gift annuities and who may be able to offer them directly. Hence the most common are the reinsured versions where the charity uses all or part of the gift to purchase the annuity from a commercially licensed company.


Life’s Milestones

It is important to determine what might inspire your client to make a planned gift. They rarely make decisions about planned significant gifts, especially deferred ones, solely because an organization claims to need the money. They generally make planned significant gifts when they are preparing their Wills, conducting other estate planning activities.

Also, people begin to plan when significant events and changing life circumstances occur in their lives. Marriage, divorce, remarriage and the addition of children (and/or grandchildren), as well as the death of loved ones can prompt the planning process. Significant financial events, such as the sale of a business or an inheritance are other major prompts.