Yesterday was the Lower School’s Courage Assembly. Each student who presented, from the littlest 3-year-old to the seemingly giant third graders, was incredibly brave to stand up and share with the whole Lower School. You can see pictures from the presentations below. However, it was Carmen Dockery Perkins’ comments at the end of the event that I wanted to share here. On Tuesday, Carmen and I journeyed down to New York City for a BCD young alumni party. We had a great time listening to the stories of these exceptional young people, and we were inspired by each attendee. At the Courage Assembly, Carmen shared that these young alumni were courageous because they had dreamed big dreams when they were at BCD and now they were living those dreams. She told the story of the little boy who loved airplanes who is now a pilot. She spoke of the young girl who loved to help little kids who now works for the Ronald McDonald House. She bragged about two of her students who loved to draw who are now artists. Carmen encouraged all of the Lower School students to be courageous and follow their dreams. Both the alumni event and the assembly were wonderful reminders BCD’s commitment to inspiring the promise of each young person.
Donors 70½ or older may be able to take advantage of an important incentive for charitable giving. The readership of this blog tends to be younger than 70½, but I have included this information in case some of your family members to which this may apply. The information below comes from PlannedGiving.com
Congress has re-authorized for 2012 and 2013 the provision that allows individuals to make gifts of up to $100,000 per year from their IRA accounts to one or more charities, without first incurring income tax on the withdrawal.
This means that if you are a qualifying donors you can direct that amount to Berkshire Country Day School with no federal income tax liability. The IRA Rollover may provide you with an excellent opportunity to make a gift during your lifetime from an asset that would be subject to multiple levels of taxation if it remained in your taxable estate.
Now, there are some details and restrictions:
- You must be 70½ or older when you make your gift, and the gift must be made from an IRA – no other retirement plans (such as 401k, 403b or SEP accounts) qualify.
- Your gift must come to us outright – it cannot be used to establish a life-income arrangement or support a donor-advised fund.
- Although the distribution will be free from income tax, it will not generate an income tax charitable deduction.
- There are other details which we’ll be happy to guide you through.
Because Congress acted after the end of 2012 to pass this legislation, they have provided two ways you can make this type of gift and still have it count for 2012.
Option One is to make an IRA transfer by January 31, 2013 and elect for it to count as a charitable gift for 2012. The administrator of your IRA plan will make the actual distribution to us. We’ve attached a sample letter of instruction that you can send to your plan provider.
Option Two applies if you took a distribution from your IRA in December 2012. In that case, you are allowed to send us a check by January 31, 2013 and elect on your tax return for the December 2012 distribution to count as an IRA rollover.
If you would like to make an IRA rollover gift for 2013, you need only direct your IRA plan provider to make a distribution to us using the attached sample letter of instruction.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me at 413-637-755 x115.
My kids and I talk about philanthropy all the time. When they ask, “Mom, what did you do all day?” I say, “I asked someone to give money to Berkshire Country Day School to make it an even better place to go to school.” Sometimes, they respond with one word: “Cool.” And sometimes, they say, “Will you use it to buy lollipops/soccer-balls/playgrounds-in-every-classroom/hot-tubs-for-after-gym-class?” They understand the idea of raising money to make the School a better place, but we are not always on the same page about what defines “better”.
We also talk about giving money away to places besides BCD (shocking?!). In the past, some of my approaches have worked. Some haven’t. In 2013, I will try some of the tactics below that Beth Kanter wrote about on her blog and keep some of my favorite approaches that I included at the end of this blog.
Parenting Tips To Encourage Your Child’s Philanthropy by Beth Kanter
1. Help Them Learn More About Nonprofits: YouthGive is a site that helps young people and their families easily donate to charities while learning more about the organizations. The organizations listed are profiled by other young people.
2. Let Your Kids Choose: Get a gift card from Razoo and let your kids tell you how to spend it.
3. Offer a Match: Blogger Marion Conway,whose children are now grown, recommended the book Raising Charitable Children by Carol Wiseman. With her children’s fundraising projects, she and her husband offered to match what they raised because they both worked for companies with matching gift programs. Marion also recommends “Giving with Confidence“ written by Colburn Wilbur, former CEO of the Packard Foundation with Fred Setterberg
4. Set up a Spend, Give, and Save Allowance Policy:For younger kids, here’s a nifty piggy bank, with separate slots for investing, saving, spending, and donating is a great way to teach kids about devoting a portion of their income to charity.
5. Encourage Them To Give Their Time: Teach your kids that even if you are cash poor, you can donate your time to help a nonprofit, whether you are helping to sort food at a local food bank or contributing your professional skills to a nonprofit, and you can have an enormous social impact. Here’s some resources from VolunteerMatch if you want to volunteer your time to help out hunger organizations. And it can be a rewarding experience.
I really like #5 for kids. I think it is important early on to teach them that they can make a difference on their own. Their time, talents and spirit can make a big difference.
And here are Amy Elmore’s #6 and #7
6. Talk to your kids about what they want to change about the world in an open and non-judgmental way. It is important for kids to learn to be active participants in their communities, and to identify challenges and feel empowered to solve them on their own. They may care about different issues than you. That is okay. You may discover new causes through your kids.
7. Talk to your kids about your philanthropy. Tell them why you give to the BCD Annual Fund (I have talking points for you if you need them). Tell them why you give to your college, a homeless shelter, an environmental group, or your church. They will learn more from watching you than any of the approaches listed above.
If you have other tips, post them here!
Berkshire Country Day School’s fundraising efforts follow the school year timeline. Our “year-end” isn’t until June 30, but we still like to honor the calendar year-end with an extra fundraising push (hint, hint: you will be getting emails) because it can be advantageous to many donors to give before December 31. In that vein, here is some simple advice on ways to give while saving tax dollars. The following information was adapted from a Vanguard Charitable giving website.
Make a cash gift. Monetary donations (whether by check or credit card) directly to charities are the simplest and most common form of charitable giving, and cash gifts to nonprofit organizations are often tax-deductible. The amount of tax savings depends on your tax bracket. For example, if you’re in the 35% top marginal tax bracket, a $100 gift may reduce your taxes by $35 ($100 × 35%).
Give appreciated securities. Another tax-savvy way to make charitable gifts is to donate appreciated securities to a qualifying charity. Examples include stocks, bonds, or mutual fund shares that have appreciated in value and that you’ve owned for more than one year. When you make a qualifying donation of appreciated securities, you may take a full tax deduction for the market value of the investment and avoid paying taxes on the appreciated value.
For example, if you paid $300 several years ago for stock that’s now worth $1,000 and you’re in the 35% tax bracket, your direct tax savings would be $350 ($1,000 × 35%). You’d also avoid the capital gains tax that you’d otherwise have paid on the investment, for an additional savings of $105 (15% capital gains tax rate × the $700 gain). (Learn more about these types of charitable donations in IRS Publication 526.)
Of course these rules are true for all charitable giving, but we hope Berkshire Country Day School will be included in your year-end giving plans. Your donations will help our teachers continue inspire the promise of every student so that each may become an exemplary citizen of the world.
If you have questions about giving to BCD, please call Amy Elmore at 413-637-0755 x115.
A couple days ago, I mailed an envelope to each current parent. The package contained a letter from Board Member Paige Orloff, and a book, Gifts that Give Back. Paige wrote the letter to encourage all parents to give back to BCD. She is writing from experience. For Paige and many other current parents, volunteering and donating to BCD have enriched their experience as parents and their children’s educations here.
Here two offers to follow up on her letter.
1) I will be your volunteer matchmaker. I recommend you visit the BCD Parent Volunteer Sign-up Form first, but if you have questions, please call me. If you work and can’t imagine how to find time to volunteer or if you have a hankering to volunteer more or in a different way, please call me. There are so many ways to give back: from baking, to doing errands, to writing articles for our magazine. Many of these jobs can be structured to fit your schedule.
2) I will answer your questions about donations. Private schools are nonprofits, and therefore have very different business models than private or governmental organizations. The biggest difference is that we rely on donations and fees for services (tuition, bus payments, etc.) to keep running. In fact, many of the best schools in the country derive more than 50 percent of their operating income from donations (endowment draw and Annual Fund donations ), and they are constantly funding building improvements from donations as well. For some people, this is confusing. Even members of private school boards don’t always get it (see the recent article in the New York Time “Is Private School Not Expensive Enough?”). I would be happy to answer any of your questions about this. I believe strongly in the ability of philanthropy to transform school communities, both through the improvements donations can make and the positive energy that generosity creates (this article explains the latter: “The Science Of Giving: Why Giving Feels So Good“).
There are so many ways to contribute to Berkshire Country Day School. I would love to help you find your niche.
“Exhaust the little moment. Soon it dies.
And be it gash or gold it will not come
Again in this disguise.”
-Gwendolyn Brooks from The Womanhood
I came across this quote this morning and found it appropriate for this time of year. All of us are experiencing and thinking about the fleeting moments of summer. For some, the summer was too short. They wish they had two more months of lazy mornings, afternoons filled with nothing but sunshine, and time to do whatever they want. Others are ready for school to start. Free time has become nothing-to-do time. Whatever your stance is on the waning days of summer, I hope you are able to exhaust each remaining moment.
The school year promises to be filled with many to-be-cherished and to-be-endured experiences and moments. I hope we are all able to fully embrace those in each category: the triumphant soccer goal and the big bike crash, the first page of reading on his own and the first disappointing grade. I hope we can look to each other for support as well.
This year, the Development Office and the Parents Association are once again hosting an event for us to celebrate the start of the school year together. Please join us at High Spirits on September 14 at 6 pm on campus. It is a great opportunity to catch up after the summer and share our thoughts on the year ahead. Hope to see you there.
On behalf of the Berkshire Country Day School community, thank you for supporting the 2011-12 Annual Fund. We surpassed our goal of raising $206,000. Annual Fund donations support the many important moments of a BCD education from students learning to read with the aid of a teacher to young actors performing in a student-run play to classmates exploring the world on field trips.
Thank you for supporting our school.
Not long after Charlie was born, I watched my first Nicholas Sparks movie. Yes, it was The Notebook and yes, I cried. That was the moment when I realized I had changed. Gone were the days when I was immune to the power of sappy Hallmark commercials, saccharin country songs, and YouTube videos of adorable babies. It took me a couple years to accept this new reality, but I now I fully embrace it: I am sappy.
Thus, I was not surprised when this P&G film below about moms made me cry. However, I need to explain that the tears were not about my efforts to transform my children into Olympians. That is my husband’s job. I cried because I am tired and coming off two weeks of witnessing herculean volunteers efforts by BCD moms (and yes, some dads). The last two weeks felt like the pinnacle of my yearlong introduction into how volunteer power is critical to BCD. Last week, there was faculty and staff appreciation week. As I wrote in my last post, the kindness and generosity that went into that week was amazing. Stephanie Iverson, Courtney McDonnell, the steering committee, class parents and the many other parents who contributed made this an amazing week. Now, we are preparing for ArtSoiree and the efforts of Co-Chairs Donna Kittredge and Marianna Poutasse and their committee is inspiring. At the same time, Annual Fund Co-Chairs Hilary Ferrone and Wendy O’Neil spent hours this week proofing, signing and stuffing letters. This comes after a yearlong effort by the two of them and their dedicated committee to raise money to support BCD. Also, many board members have been spending large chunks of their days in committee meetings and preparing for Open Board Meeting next week. BCD moms and dads donate so much of their life to BCD, and we notice. On behalf of all of the students, faculty and staff, thank you.
And here is that sappy video that made me think of all of you…
Thank you to all of the parents who participated in Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week. As a newbie to BCD, I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity and thoughtfulness that went into this week. From yummy breakfast treats on Monday to the delicious dinners-to-go on Friday and every beautiful act in between, I am thankful not only for myself but for the entire faculty and staff.
As Director of Development, I claim the title Director of Gratitude. While most people may think my main job is to ask for money, I believe my most important job is to thank donors and to share the good news about what their gifts support. Therefore, one of my most important accomplishments of the year was to help the BCD Board of Directors complete and pass a gift acceptance policy. The policy was created to institutionalize how we care for gifts and donors. The take-home message of the two-dozen-page document is that at BCD, we cherish each gift that is given, strive to make every donor feel appreciated, and promise to care for each gift over time. This statement has long been true at BCD, but with the passage of this document, we have codified these values and promises.
Now that this policy has passed, we can continue to focus on improving our efforts to thank donors and to communicate the impact of their gifts. I believe the School does a good job of thanking donors who give cash donations right now. An area where we could improve is how we thank people for gifts of time, talent, and items. Often, this is just because we don’t know these donations have happened. This is one area where I need the community’s help. When you or someone you know donates apples, books, tree-trimming, speech testing, or anything else to our school, send me a note. Why? Well, first of all, I want to say, “thank you”. BCD relies on the generosity of our community, and I recognize that this generosity comes in a myriad of forms. My second reason is that I want to have a better record of the magnitude of philanthropy benefiting BCD.
Another area where we could improve with the help of our community is in how we communicate the impact of gifts. I see the impact of the Annual Fund on a daily basis, but I know that my perspective is altered by my development-colored glasses. I credit the Annual Fund for the many special moments of a BCD education. For the Lower School, I thank the Annual Fund when I see students working with Kathy Clausen on their reading and writing. I know that not every school has a special teacher dedicated to this subject. I also see the benefits of the Annual Fund when I read the Latin awards. There are so few schools left in the country that offer Latin. BCD is fortunate to be one of them. I also see the benefits of the ArtSoiree when I listen to discussions about Admissions. I love to hear Alicia Rossie talk about her efforts to find the right students for each class, and how financial aid resources aid this endeavor. I see the benefits of endowment in discussions of faculty salaries. I see the impact of facilities gifts as we plan for the next round of updates to the campus. While I see and experience these impacts, I know many of you do not. On this, I ask for your help too. Please let me know if there are ways to communicate the impact of gifts in more clear and meaningful ways. I have adjusted to my development-colored view to such an extent that sometimes I need help sharing these insights with the greater community.
Thank you in advance for your help in nurturing a culture of philanthropy and gratitude at BCD.