WELS again celebrates blessings in endowments program

Thanks to the generosity of God’s people, WELS Foundation was blessed to distribute almost $1.2 million to gospel ministry in July through the WELS endowment funds. These funds were established by delegates at the 2005 synod convention to provide ongoing support for the Lord’s work in WELS Ministerial Education and WELS Home, Joint, and World Missions.

In addition to the WELS endowments, WELS Foundation also manages endowments that are set up by individuals, congregations, and other WELS-affiliated ministries. In total, WELS Foundation distributed $3.8 million from more than 375 endowments this year, providing ongoing financial support for Christ’s gospel work throughout WELS.

Several of the endowments managed by WELS Foundation benefit Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., providing tuition assistance to students training to become pastors.

Seminarian Jacob Borgwardt, a member at Redeemer, Fond du Lac, Wis., shares one of the blessings of the tuition assistance he has received through endowments: “[It] helps me focus on training to be a pastor. Instead of having to work full time to pay off student loans and be a part-time student, it’s the other way around. Seminarians can be full-time students, spending the majority of our time studying God’s Word.”

He continues: “On the spiritual side, I’ll never forget something one of my professors once said in regard to tuition assistance: The people giving generously to these endowments see the support of seminarians as a tangible way to give to the gospel. What a blessing and responsibility!”

Borgwardt extends his gratitude to those who have supported him and his wife through their financial gifts: “We thank God that he has given you such Christlike generosity. You are a help and a blessing to us and to so many of my classmates. Your gifts and prayers are extremely encouraging! Knowing that there are so many people who support us in our pastoral training makes us that much more excited to serve a church someday.”

“An endowment is a great way to create a lasting legacy of Christian faith while providing for the Lord’s work—like supporting our future pastors,” says Mr. Jim Holm, executive director of WELS Foundation.

There are a variety of ways to give to an endowment: cash or appreciated assets; or through a will, trust, beneficiary designation on a retirement account, or insurance proceeds. To learn more about adding to an existing endowment or establishing a new endowment for a ministry close to your heart, contact your local WELS Christian giving counselor at wels.net/giving-counselors or call 800-827-5482.


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Retirement Income

If you are between the ages of 45 and 65 and would like to make a gift towards the Lord’s work that provides an income source during retirement—and a charitable deduction now (while income is higher), consider a deferred gift annuity.

A deferred gift annuity allows you to make a gift of cash or appreciated assets in exchange for fixed quarterly payments starting at a future date and continuing until you go to heaven. After that, the residual of the gift will be used by your congregation, synod, or another WELS affiliated ministry. The following example illustrates the benefits of a single-life annuity (two-life annuities are also available). It is based on:

  • a gift of $10,000 (minimum) in cash
  • a payment rate of 6.4 percent for someone who is 55 years old and wants payments to begin 10 years from now (rates vary based on these factors)

You may claim a charitable income tax deduction of approximately $3,446.10 and receive annual payments of $640 for the rest of your life. And $329.60 of the payments you receive each year will be tax-free during the first 19.9 years. Then, after you’re in heaven, the residual value of your gift annuity would go to the ministry of your choice.

Transferring stocks, bonds, or mutual funds may be an even more beneficial way right now to fund your deferred gift annuity. In many cases these assets are highly appreciated, so a gift allows you to avoid capital gains taxes now and pay them in a more favorable way later.

A WELS Christian giving counselor can discuss the details for your personal situation. Call WELS Ministry of Christian Giving at 800-827-5482.

Giving through a Donor Advised Fund

A donor advised fund (DAF) is a charitable giving vehicle wherein an individual, family, or corporation makes an irrevocable, tax-deductible contribution of cash, securities, or other property to WELS Foundation and at any time thereafter can recommend grant distributions to qualified WELS ministries. The fund can be established with current gifts, deferred gifts (such as charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts), and testamentary gifts (such as wills, revocable trusts, or beneficiary designations for life insurance policies or retirement accounts).

The WELS Foundation DAF program provides an alternative to the private family foundation. You can accomplish many of the same goals, but with far less administrative work and expense.

What are the features?

  • Gift size. The minimum initial gift is $10,000. Donors can add funds in $100 increments at any time.
  • Individual. You may name your DAF. You, or the persons you designate, may recommend distributions to organization listed in the WELS Yearbook from your fund—anonymously if you so choose.
  • Grant recommendations. The minimum amount that may be recommended is $250. Each fund must distribute at least five percent of its asset value annually.
  • Lasting legacy. You may designate others to continue recommending distributions after your lifetime (usually for a period of 20 years).

What are the benefits?

  • Joy. Arrange to benefit the areas of the Lord’s work that are closest to your heart.
  • Tax savings. You receive an income tax charitable deduction in the year of your gift to your DAF, regardless of when grants are made. As with all gifts of long-term appreciated securities, none of the appreciation is subject to capital gains tax.
  • Recommend gifts when ready. Contribute to your DAF this year and decide later which WELS ministries you want to support.
  • Encourage family stewardship. Help your children and other loved ones experience the joy of giving by involving them in the decision making process for the grant recommendations.

Larry and Marie Clark (names changed to protect donor confidentiality) opened a DAF as a way of making more tax efficient gifts. They work in agri-business and arranged that the proceeds from a certain crop are paid directly to the DAF. What these donors especially like about this arrangement is that each dollar earned and given to their DAF is able to be used for ministries within WELS. Since the amount going into their DAF is not taxed, it has allowed this family to generously increase their offerings. When the check is paid to their DAF, they consult with their WELS Christian giving counselor and make a list of ministries they would like to support. This list is passed on to WELS Foundation, which distributes the money from their DAF according to their wishes. These donors are very pleased with this arrangement and would recommend this method of gifting.

For more information regarding setting up a donor advised fund, contact a WELS Christian giving counselor by calling 800-827-5482.

“We’re giving our kids inheritance”

You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker on an RV that reads: “We’re Spending Our Kids’ Inheritance.” Up front, a gray-haired driver jockeys the vehicle down the road toward a warmer climate. Grandma and Grandpa are having a ball and don’t mind poking fun at the idea that they should live conservatively so they can leave more money for their children.

Not everyone feels that way. Many seniors are eager to leave their offspring a nice nest egg. They remember the tough times they had and want to make life a little easier for the next generation. They want to pass their hard-earned wealth on to their family.

While these Christians, in thanks for the saving work of Jesus, would also like to remember the Lord’s work in their plans, they wonder, “How will giving some of the money to charity affect my family?”

Truth is, you don’t necessarily have to decide between charity and your family. Through WELS Foundation, there are ways you can give to WELS ministry without jeopardizing your family. Consider these possibilities:

Insurance. Some donors use life insurance to replace the wealth they give to charity. A second-to-die policy can be quite reasonable and provide the beneficiaries with proceeds that approximate the amount given to charity.

Charitable Remainder Trust. You can establish a charitable trust now and receive income for the remainder of your life, and then have the income directed to your children. At the end of the trust, the remainder will go to charity.

Legacy Charitable Remainder Trust. This high-sounding option simply refers to a trust that is established while you are living but funded after both parents go to be with the Lord. The trust pays income to your children for a term of up to 20 years. When the trust ends, the remainder of the trust passes to designated charitable beneficiaries such as your church and/or synod.

These special planning tools are not for everyone, to be sure. But for some, they can provide a means to benefit family members and charity without taking away from the other.

Your local WELS Christian Giving Counselor can provide further information about the above planning opportunities, as well as others. He is also able to help you orchestrate any of these gift plans by working closely with you and your professional advisors. Contact him by calling WELS Ministry of Christian Giving at 800-827-5482.

Who knows . . . maybe you’ll want to create your own bumper sticker: “Our Kids Will Get Their Inheritance When We Give It to WELS.”