Charitable Giving: What You Need to Know About Christian Wealth Management
Do you want to establish your financial life in a way that is consistent with your faith? Are you seeking a way to become a better steward of your God-given resources through charitable giving and wealth management?
WaterStone is a Christian community foundation that allows you to do just that.
Operating under the belief that generosity is the “greatest act of worship,” since 1980 WaterStone has helped hundreds of clients of all income levels generate a greater economic impact, both for the Kingdom and themselves, by incorporating religious values into financial plans.
Paul Damon, founder and president of Stewardship Planning Partners, frequently partners with Waterstone to help clients achieve both a favorable social impact and a positive financial return. He explained that Waterstone has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to charitable giving.
“Waterstone helps those who want to give to a charity process those gifts,” he explained. “They handle complex assets; sometimes people just want to give money, but other times they want to give property or business interests. What Waterstone does is very unique and interesting and has huge benefits to our donors. We can give more money to the Kingdom rather than to the IRS.”
Because no two clients are the same, Waterstone takes “careful and creative” steps when assessing each financial situation.
“We gather information from our clients, spend time getting to know their goals and objectives, and bring it to Waterstone for another set of eyes,” Damon said. “They’ll look at each situation and say, ‘Have you thought about this or that?’”
“What makes Waterstone stand out in the sea of wealth management companies”, Damon said, “is its focus on charitable income strategy.” He explained that WaterStone helps clients research, identify, and study different ways of making charitable gifts.
“There are hundreds of different charitable strategies that can be used, so it’s important to have a different perspective so the client gets the best solutions for their goals and situations,” Damon said. “They consistently give us great advice that allows us to do the right thing for our clients.”
A common charitable vehicle Waterstone recommends for clients is a Giving Fund, also known as a Donor-Advised Fund. This giving strategy allows clients to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax deduction, and then recommend grants from the fund over time.
Damon described a Donor-Advised Fund as a “charitable bank account” that offers clients some tax advantages along with the opportunity to create a charitable legacy.
“When you create a Giving Fund with Waterstone, you get a charitable deduction as they are a nonprofit,” he said. “There are no capital gains and a significant income tax deduction, which means clients save more in taxes and their preferred charities get more money.”
Damon shared the story of one couple who approached him before selling their business, which they hoped would garner between $16 and $18 million. In addition, the couple had several other complex assets and real estate they had acquired that totaled an estimated $10 million.
Incredibly, the business sold for $24 million, causing the couples’ net worth to be over $30 million.
Fortunately, prior to the sale of the company stock, the couple had placed a portion of the stock in a WaterStone Giving Fund, allowing the client to avoid any capital gains.
“If they had just sold the business, they would have paid $7 or $8 million in taxes on the sale of the business,” Damon shared. “By putting a portion of the stock into a Donor-Advised Fund prior to the sale of the company, they avoided all the tax on the stock and generated a charitable tax deduction. When the company was sold, rather than going to my client, the proceeds were put into their Donor-Advised Fund, where they could be distributed to the donor's favorite charities. They got a $6 million tax deduction for putting that stock into the fund prior to the sale of that company.”
“Thanks to Waterstone,” he added, “the client saved millions of dollars. We were able to use several charitable vehicles that together worked well to accomplish all the client’s goals and objectives.”
Donor-Advised Funds are also beneficial to small-scale givers; Damon shared the story of another client who was given stock in his company as part of his compensation.
“It wasn’t much money, but because the stock had been given to him, he didn’t have any cost basis in the stock,” Damon said. “If he would’ve sold his stock, it would have been taxable to him as a long-term capital gain. He avoided the tax, plus he got a tax deduction for contributing the stock to a Donor-Advised Fund.”
As a Christian organization, WaterStone ensures all charitable donations are given to companies that align with their Statement of Faith.
Damon said his clients have peace knowing their gifts are going to charities that will not violate their biblical values and belief systems.
“My clients love the fact that it’s a faith-based organization; they love the fact that they don’t make grants out of their funds to organizations that do things or support things that are opposing Christian values,” he said.
The Bible has a great deal to say about stewardship, devotion, and discipline when it comes to money; in fact, we’re given more instruction in the Bible about money (more than 2,000 verses) than almost any other topic.
As a company, Waterstone seeks to: Honor God through the transformational power of giving, serve Givers at the intersection of faith and finance, and build the Kingdom by transforming assets into living water.
According to Damon, Waterstone "lives up to this mission each and every day," giving charitable donors the opportunity to demonstrate biblical stewardship and experience the joy of giving through personalized, kingdom-focused planning.
“Ultimately, it’s about being a good steward about what God has blessed us with and stewarding those resources to have a kingdom impact in a powerful and effective way,” Damon said. “WaterStone allows our clients to do just that.”
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