Professional Advisor Q & A, July 2020

For 100 years, the Community Foundation has partnered with hundreds of attorneys, certified public accountants and financial professionals to maximize their client’s generosity. We are grateful to all the practitioners who think of us as a resource on charitable issues when working with their clients on planned giving.

Recently, we had the opportunity to hear from two of these professional advisors about how recent events have impacted giving and how they use the Community Foundation as a resource in these unprecedented times.


From your experience, how do you think charitable giving will be impacted as a result of these challenging times?  What do you think may be the biggest change/impact to giving?

Jennifer Flannery, Esq., Partner, Barclay Damon

I think there are tremendous opportunities for charitable giving at the moment. For high net worth clients, there are some wonderful valuation discount opportunities for gifting as well as historically low interest rates.  Certain charitable trust structures really provide a great opportunity to leverage the market and to combine philanthropic goals with family wealth transfer for high net worth individuals. In addition to the market conditions, the uncertainty around 2020 elections and the sunset of the current estate tax exemption amounts scheduled in 2026 could really provide powerful initiative to high net worth clients to leverage charitable gifting structures to accomplish both charitable goals and family wealth structure.

As for more moderate net worth folks, the cost, expenses and administrative burdens of managing their own private foundation can be cumbersome, and an understanding of the power of a community foundation structure to maximize dollars and time spent towards mission can remain very powerful.

I also think that a real silver lining of this crisis is that a lot of people are reflecting on their own privilege and may recognize how precarious other people’s situations are that have come to light as a result of the COVID fallout, whether acute or long term and chronic that contributed to the impact.


Peter Grogan, Vice President, Goldman Sachs

These are challenging times that have exposed the reality of how great the need is in our community – of how many people live on the margin where one unexpected event puts them and their family in jeopardy.  Fortunately, we continue to see clients take advantage of opportunities to give.

While the tax changes in 2018 reduced the number of people taking itemized deductions, we have made recommendations to bunch charitable contributions to those clients who could benefit.  Also, we have many clients taking advantage of the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD), which is now permanent, to both reduce their income for tax purposes while supporting the charitable organizations that are important to them.

On the estate planning side, the charitable strategies we recommend have generally changed over last few years as a result of the changes in legislation increasing the exemption limits.  Client still benefit from using CRUTs and stock appreciated assets to fund charitable trusts and charitable giving, these continue to be an effective tool.

I think the market volatility we are experiencing and the recession being created by COVID-19 has just slowed down some of the decisions and timing, but I don’t think it will change individuals overall thoughts on charitable contributions.


What do you see as the role or benefit of working with the Community Foundation from your clients and/or your own perspective?

Jennifer Flannery

I believe in the value of the Community Foundation and am a strong advocate for introducing my clients to the power of endowment and to be able to harness the Community Foundation’s resources to ensure that their legacies are achieved.


Peter Grogan

The resources that are available through the Community Foundation, and the knowledgeable staff that can provide for clients needs and support their charitable interests is a great benefit.    The Community Foundation certainly is a way to give very good support to the Buffalo and WNY community by having fund there and leveraging their support.  Also, the Community Foundation has been a very good steward of client’s charitable funds, which as an advisor is very important to me when I make recommendations to clients.  I want to make sure clients objectives can be accomplished, and the Community Foundation has been a good resource to be able to do that.  Secondly, I want to be sure clients charitable assets are well managed, they the Community Foundation has certainly also accomplished that.