Planned giving program bears fruit

Pictured above: Members of St. Peter participate in an Everyone Outreach evangelism workshop

More than 20 years ago, the members of St. Peter, Schofield, Wis., realized their congrega­tion would benefit from forming a planned giving committee. One of the goals of the com­mittee was to actively promote to members what a blessing planned giving could be in supporting the gospel work of the congregation.

Member Bob Stasney has been part of the con­gregation’s planned giving committee since its inception. He recalls that the new committee ben­efited from the support of a WELS Christian giving counselor, who supplied startup resources and advice. “[The resources] were key in guiding us to establish policies that are very important to refer to over the years,” remembers Stasney.

Since that time, St. Peter’s planned giving commit­tee has been encouraging members in their giving by providing regular communication in the bulletin or newsletter about gifting tools. The committee also assists members who have questions about making planned gifts, directing them to their local WELS Christian giving counselor as needed.

Through God’s blessing, this targeted, support­ive approach has resulted in members setting up gifts to benefit the church through a variety of methods, like gifts of appreciated stock or gifts through a will or estate plan. Last year the con­gregation received several large gifts, including $220,000 to create an endowment and another $400,000 to further God’s ministry in multiple areas. Another $20,000 gift went to tuition assistance (the church’s scholarship program has distributed over $130,000 to families since its inception). St. Peter’s planned giving committee also oversees the congregation’s endowment funds and invests with WELS Investment Funds.

Stasney encourages other congregations to consider setting up a planned giving commit­tee, utilizing the resources and planned giving program manual available through WELS: “The current manual seems quite comprehensive and is a must-go-to for anyone starting from scratch.”

Stasney gives all credit to God for his blessings on St. Peter. “The Holy Spirit has worked miracles at St. Peter over and over again, and our members have historically been cheerful givers,” he says. “To God be all the glory.”

Learn more about starting a congregational planned giving program at or contact your local WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or [email protected] for assistance.

Starting a congregational planned giving program

Christians seeking to honor the Lord with their offerings will want to know about the tax-wise opportunities available when plan­ning for the transition of accumu­lated wealth (their “estate”) to loved ones and the Lord’s work at life’s end. There are also ways to support the Lord’s work now while at the same time receiving tax benefits. WELS has produced a manual to help church leaders start a planned giving program to share these opportunities with fellow members.

If your congregation is inter­ested in starting a planned giv­ing program, visit to order free manuals. The manual starts with the basics of how to communicate planned giving oppor­tunities to members and then provides options for building on that foundation. For example, a con­gregation can also organize a planned giving committee and start an endowment fund. Your local WELS Christian giving coun­selor can walk your congregation through the manual and answer any questions.

Investment options for congregations

Congregations receiving larger gifts from members have long-term and short-term investment options through WELS. For long-term investing, WELS Investment Funds provides cost-effective, professionally managed investment portfolios exclusively for WELS and affiliated organizations. These funds are designed especially for endowment and scholarship funds.

Currently 255 WELS organizations have entrusted more than $300 million to WELS Investment Funds. Investors benefit from lower investment costs, oversight by a national board of directors made up of WELS members with relevant experience, the expertise of professional institutional investment consultants, and ease of use as investors work directly with professional WELS staff to set up and manage accounts. Explore your options at or by contacting [email protected] or 877-888-8953.

WELS Church Extension Fund (WELS CEF) provides short-term investing to congregations through one-year savings certificates and 6- to 60-month investment certificates. In addition to receiving competitive investment rates, congregations can appreciate that WELS CEF uses the investments to provide financing to mission congregations and mission-minded self-supporting WELS congregations and schools for land and facility projects. For more information visit or contact [email protected] or 866-511-7793.

Rate increase good news for donors

The charitable gift annuity is a favorite planned giving tool for donors who are 60 or older. Not only can you support a WELS ministry after you go to heaven, but meanwhile you can receive regular, guaranteed payments for life. To top things off, the rates on those payments increased in 2024 by an average of 0.4 percent (depending on your age)!

In brief, you can set up a charitable gift annuity (CGA) with WELS Foundation for a minimum of $10,000 in cash or securities or through a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) from your IRA. You will receive a charitable gift deduction (not applicable to a CGA funded by a QCD) and then quarterly payments based on a rate according to your age. These pay­ments continue until you are taken to heaven, at which point the remainder goes to your designated ministry (or ministries). If you are interested in setting up a CGA, contact your local WELS Christian giving counselor.

Learn more about charitable gift annuities and view the latest rates table

Watch WELS Foundation Executive Director Jim Holm interview WELS Christian Giving Counselor Jon Kehren about the advantages of CGAs.


Increased maximums for qualified charitable distributions

The maximum amount of qualified charitable distribu­tions (QCDs) you can direct to ministry from your IRA has increased in 2024 to $105,000 (previously $100,000), and the maximum you can distribute to WELS Foundation to set up a charitable gift annuity is now $53,000 (previously $50,000). This is because under SECURE Act 2.0 there is a yearly increase, indexed for inflation, in the annual limit of QCDs starting in 2024.

Learn more about qualified charitable distributions at


Donate appreciated assets instead of cash

When donating we typically first think of giving cash (online or through a check). A cash dona­tion provides us with a chari­table deduction. But consider donating an appreciated asset instead, such as a stock, bond, mutual fund, or real estate. You will still get the charitable deduction and avoid the capital gains tax you would typically pay when selling the asset.

Find procedures for giving securi­ties at under “Helpful Giving Tools.”

A gift for family and ministry

Joyce and Don Frisque

For Don and Joyce Frisque, supporting Christ’s gospel ministry is close to their hearts. Joyce served as a WELS teacher for over 35 years, and Don served as a WELS teacher for 6 years and as a school social worker for 31 years. Their two children, Deb and Paul, have also devoted their lives to ministry.

When the Frisques retired, they planned to thank the Lord for his goodness to them. “God has blessed us, and we want to pass those bless­ings on,” Joyce says. “We don’t need anything more for ourselves, so we are going to give it back where we can to the church.” They also wanted to share their blessings with their children and grandchildren.

The Frisques knew that funding a legacy gift from their individual retirement accounts (IRAs) could help them fulfill their giving goals, but they were searching for the right type of planned gift. When they met with WELS Christian Giving Counselor Rev. Tom Mielke, he explained the benefits of a legacy charitable remainder trust.

Don and Joyce were intrigued. A legacy charitable remainder trust (often called a “give it twice” trust) would allow them to support both the people and the ministries they love, in addi­tion to providing tax benefits.

After consideration, Don and Joyce set up a legacy charitable remainder trust, with WELS Foundation serving as trustee. When they are in heaven, their children will receive quarterly income payments from the trust for 15 years. After that, the remain­der will support the multiple WELS ministries that the Frisques have chosen.

Don and Joyce appreciated Rev. Mielke’s assis­tance and the ease of filling out a single form, the Letter of Instruction, to select the ministries that will benefit from their trust. Joyce also loves the fact that after Jesus calls them home the trust will support their family members and the Lord’s work.

“Everything we have been given has been entrusted to us, and we are responsible for managing it in a God-pleas­ing way,” says Don. “In this way we believe we are doing that.”

Learn more about legacy charitable remainder trusts by contacting your local WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or [email protected].

“Give it twice” through a legacy charitable remainder trust

A legacy charitable remainder or “give it twice” trust is funded after both parents (or a single parent) go to be with the Lord. In addition to any immediate gifts to children or other heirs, a portion of the estate is placed into a trust that pays five percent each year to children for a term of up to 20 years. When the trust ends, the remaining assets are distributed to designated charitable beneficiaries, such as your church and/or synod.


  • Provides for your heirs: Instead of leaving a one-time lump sum inheritance, you can provide an ongoing source of income for your heirs for up to 20 years.
  • Tax savings: Funding the legacy trust from a tax-deferred retirement account may provide additional tax benefits. Rather than having to distribute an inherited IRA within 10 years, the IRA can be used via beneficiary designation to fund a legacy charitable remainder trust with a 20-year payout period.
  • A gift to ministry: At the end of the payout period, the trust remainder is distributed to the ministry (or ministries) of your choosing. This charitable distribution can be made as a lump sum or used to fund an endowment—providing an ongoing source of support for your favorite WELS ministry.

The minimum gift amount for a legacy charitable remainder trust is $200,000 funded through your estate planning documents such as your will and beneficiary designations (for example, your IRA).

Legacy charitable remainder trust illustration

Learn more about legacy charitable remainder trusts by contacting your local WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or [email protected].

In this video, WELS Christian Giving Counselor Rev. Tom Mielke and WELS Foundation Executive Director Jim Holm talk about the basics and blessings of legacy charitable remainder trusts.

Did you know you can donate . . .

. . . appreciated assets (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate)?

Receive a double tax benefit when you give appreciated assets held longer than one year. First, you can deduct the full fair market value of the investment. Second, save by avoiding all tax on the capital gain.

. . . from your IRA?

Direct transfers from an IRA to charity (up to $105,000 per year) are free from federal and potentially state income tax for anyone 70.5 or older.

Want to learn more? A WELS Christian giving counselor can help you get started. If you are interested, call 800-827-5482 or e-mail [email protected].

A Legacy Gift 20 Years in the Making

Eddie and Robert Verhelst, brothers from South Dakota, are third-generation farmers, working the land passed down through their parents and grandparents. Out of gratitude for the Lord’s blessings, they wished to set up planned gifts to support Christ’s gospel work. “We wanted to do something to share back our wealth,” says Eddie. “God has been so good to us.”

In the early 2000s, Eddie and Robert met with WELS Christian giving counselor Ken Dierks, who introduced them to charitable remainder trusts. After Ken retired, Christian giving coun­selor (CGC) Scott Wagner nurtured the relation­ship with the brothers, providing them with gift illustrations from WELS Foundation showing how they could fund charitable remainder trusts using stock that they held.

In late 2022, the brothers worked with their legal and tax advisors and WELS Foundation to establish charitable remainder trusts. Once established, they transferred their stock to the trusts, with WELS Foundation serving as trustee.

The brothers are grateful for the guidance from CGC Scott Wagner and the services provided by WELS Foundation. They also appreciate the income tax deduction they received and the fact that they didn’t have to pay capital gains tax on their gift. In addition, Eddie and Robert will receive income payments from the trusts for their lives, which they plan to use as additional gifts to support the charities they love. When the Lord calls them home, the remainder in the trusts will support WELS ministries.

“If you have stock to donate, this is a wonderful way to do it,” Eddie says. “It’s a win for every­body and a win for God’s kingdom.”

This is one way to use a charitable remainder trust. Learn more about charitable remainder trusts by contacting your local WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or [email protected].

Why Establish a Charitable Remainder Trust?

If you desire to use appreciated property that may produce little to no income to support you or your family—and the Lord’s ministry—while avoiding taxes, the charitable remainder trust (CRT) might be right for you. Some who fit this category include farmers, investors, business owners, and landlords.

Here’s how it works:
A WELS Christian giving counselor (CGC) can provide you with gen­eral information and work with your advisors and WELS Foundation to establish the charitable remainder trust. Once established, you transfer cash, securities (stocks, bonds, mutual funds), or real estate to the trust with WELS Foundation serving as trustee. Charitable remainder trusts can provide income to you for life and/or to your children for up to 20 years. When it ends, the remaining property in the trust passes to your designated charitable beneficiaries such as your church and/or synod.

Here are the steps:

  1. Meet with a Christian giving counselor and advisors; complete paperwork.
  2. Transfer assets to the trust.
  3. The trust makes payments.
  4. The trust ends; the property passes to the charitable beneficiaries.

The benefits include:

  • You will receive an income tax charitable deduction and you don’t have to pay capital gains tax on the gift.
  • You and/or your children receive an income stream (quarterly payments).
  • You can continue supporting the Lord’s work after you go to heaven.

The minimum gift size is $200,000. WELS Foundation’s recommended payout rate is five percent. Payments can be a fixed or variable amount. You can choose several income beneficiaries and the length of the trust term. WELS Foundation as trustee manages the assets for the benefit of the income beneficiaries and charitable beneficiaries.


Learn more about charitable remainder trusts by contacting your local WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or [email protected].

Watch a video about how WELS members Jerry and Lynn Zimpelmann support WELS mission work through their charitable remainder trust.

SECURE Act 2.0 Opens New Use for Qualified Charitable Distributions

Donors 70.5 and older have enjoyed making tax-free qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from their IRA that also count toward their yearly required minimum distribution (RMD). Legislation passed at the end of last year, known as SECURE Act 2.0, allows donors to fund a charitable gift annuity (CGA) through a QCD.

An individual can now make a QCD of up to $50,000 (out of the $100,000 overall annual limit on IRA qualified charitable distributions) into a CGA in one calendar year. A husband and wife can each distribute up to $50,000 from their IRAs in one year for a CGA (maximum $100,000). A CGA provides the donor and/or his/her spouse with fixed quarterly payments for life. Then, after the donor goes to heaven, the remainder of the gift goes to ministries chosen by the donor.

The QCD into a CGA counts toward the RMD for those required to take it (as of 2023 the age at which RMDs must begin has been raised to 73). Since it can only be done in one tax year, it may make sense to consider distributing the maximum $50,000 amount when you decide to do it. The distribution can be split between multiple CGAs in one year as long as the total doesn’t exceed the $50,000 limit. Because the QCD is a tax-free distribution from your IRA, there is no tax deduction for the gift and the CGA payments are fully taxable.

You might want to consider this new giving opportunity if:

  • you do not itemize on your taxes.
  • you want to provide an income stream to you and/or your spouse.

A WELS Christian giving counselor can help you get started. If you are interested, call 800-827-5482 or e-mail [email protected].

The Charitable Gift Annuity: A Gift That Pays Income for Life

After 35 years of teaching, Arnie Nommensen began serving in a different way: as a WELS Christian giving counselor. In his role, Arnie met a WELS member who made quite an impression on him. This member had seen firsthand the blessings of charitable gift annuities (CGAs), so Arnie helped him set up multiple CGAs to leave a legacy of faith.

Motivated by this example and out of thankfulness for God’s blessings, Arnie knew that setting up CGAs to support the Lord’s work was also right for him and his wife, Carol. They knew that even after God calls them home, their CGAs will continue to support the ministries they love, like providing physical and spiritual support in Africa through WELS Christian Aid and Relief.

“You hear about things that WELS Christian Aid and Relief is doing in Africa for communities that really have a need, and that community then is also hearing the gospel from the people who are there to help them,” says Arnie. “The support that we can give through a charitable gift annuity will help provide that, and that’s something that can be carried on after we’re in heaven.”

CGAs are very popular since they provide quarterly income payments to the donor for life, in addition to significant tax benefits. When the Lord calls the donor home, the remainder will be distributed to the ministry or ministries of the donor’s choosing.

Carol appreciates how CGAs allow them to share their blessings with others: “They’ve given us the ability to use our financial gifts from the Lord to help or give back to him in a small way, because he gives us so much,” she says. “And it really gives us joy to do that.”

Run a personalized gift annuity illustration based on your age

Learn more about charitable gift annuities by contacting your local WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or [email protected].

Watch Arnie and Carol’s full charitable gift annuity story 

A Smart Option for Giving

If you are age 70.5 or older, you can support WELS ministries and churches through a gift directly from an individual retirement account (IRA) called a qualified charitable distribution (QCD).

Why is a QCD such a good giving option?

  • Giving directly from your IRA—rather than withdrawing these funds—won’t increase your adjusted gross income or subject your Social Security income to more taxes.
  • Such gifts can count toward all or part of your annual required minimum distribution (RMD). While IRA owners age 70.5 or older can make gifts directly to charities from their IRAs, the minimum age for taking RMDs has increased to 72.
  • QCD gifts can be especially advantageous for those who do not expect to itemize their deductions and for those whose deductions are limited.
  • You may make QCD gifts in any amount up to $100,000 per person per year or $200,000 for a couple with separate IRAs. Because of recent tax law changes, you may be able to continue to add to an IRA after age 70.5. If this is your situation, the amount of QCD gifts you can make will be reduced.*

Learn more about making QCDs from your IRA at or by contacting your local WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or [email protected].

*As a result of the SECURE Act, if an individual with earned income continues to make deductible contributions to an IRA beyond age 70.5, the individual’s maximum QCD amount will be reduced by the amount of deduction claimed for an IRA contribution.

Helpful Giving Tools

WELS Foundation provides resources to support you in your giving, such as:

Consider Being “Flexible” in Retirement

For those looking for new ways to support WELS’ mission to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ while still providing for their retirement needs, they may be surprised to learn about a way they can do both: the flexible deferred charitable gift annuity.

  1. With this creative plan (which is a variation of the simple charitable gift annuity), you can meet current and future income needs. While IRS regulations limit contributions to IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and other retirement plans, there are no such limitations with this plan.
  2. You can create a plan that maximizes your current income tax deduction while retaining the flexibility of receiving payments at the time you choose.
  3. Lastly, a flexible deferred annuity provides protection should an income need arise due to an uncertain future event (such as placing a relative in an assisted living facility or helping someone with in-home care). Payments can begin if or when the need arises.

A good example

As Bill and Jane prepared for retirement, they wanted to set aside resources to supplement their retirement income, while eventually benefiting a number of WELS ministries, including their home church. With the flexible deferred charitable gift annuity, they fulfilled these objectives.

Over a period of years, Bill and Jane created several flexible deferred charitable gift annuities and can begin receiving the payments in the future.

  • They met part of their Christian giving goals, named their favorite ministries to receive the remainder of the annuities, and had large deductions to use against their current income.
  • Annually they have the choice to begin receiving the payments.
  • When the payments begin, they may decide to use their payments to support the Lord’s work and would receive additional income tax deductions for those gifts.

Charitable gift annuity illustration







For more information about this creative plan or charitable gift annuities, contact a WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or [email protected].

The Donor Advised Fund: One-Stop Giving

WELS member and attorney David Nommensen and his wife, Bonnie, knew that setting up a donor advised fund was an ideal and tax-wise way to support ministry at their home congregation, First Lutheran in Elkhorn, Wis.

David likes the fact that their donor advised fund provides predictable, ongoing support to ministry at First, helping fund programs that spread the gospel both inside and outside the church and school. He also likes the tax benefits of the donor advised fund. “It was just part of good stewardship,” says David. “Bonnie and I could look at the taxes that we had saved and do a little soul-searching and perhaps give a little more.”

Donor advised funds are very popular since a donor can give a gift now and recommend the ministries that benefit later. The gift can be divided among the ministries the donor cares about, and a single receipt will be provided for income tax purposes.

In addition to ongoing support for their church and school, the Nommensens know that their family donor advised fund is a wonderful way to involve their kids and grandkids in the joy of giving since they can be included in the decision-making process for the grant recommendations. It’s another way to pass along Christian values to the next generation of believers.

“Our prayer is that the donor advised fund is around a lot longer than Bonnie and I are,” says David. “And it’s a nice opportunity for us to have these conversations with our children about the needs of our favorite church organization. I’m really hoping that someday my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be donating to this fund and having those same conversations.”

How does a donor advised fund work?


Learn more about donor advised funds by contacting your local WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or [email protected].

See David’s full donor advised fund story 

Why a Donor Advised Fund?

From time to time, a WELS member may be faced with a larger than expected financial blessing that opens the door for giving to the Lord’s work without enough time to distribute the extra blessing nor the desire to engage in multiple transactions to help several charities. Enter the donor advised fund (DAF), which permits you to make charitable gifts to those organizations you care about most, at the time you choose, often with expert advice and assistance.

The ABCs of a DAF
A DAF is like a charitable investment account for the purpose of supporting the WELS ministries you care about. When you contribute cash, securities, or other assets to a DAF, you are generally able to take an immediate income tax deduction as well as avoid capital gain taxes from the gift of appreciated property. Those funds may then be invested for tax-free growth, and you have the flexibility to recommend distributions from time to time to qualified WELS ministries. (Requesting distributions from your WELS Foundation donor advised fund is easy. Simply fill out WELS Foundation’s online request form.)

If you have a DAF, consider what will happen to the funds in the future when you are no longer there to make decisions about the disposition of funds. Either you can entrust the decision-making to your heirs on how the funds are to be distributed, or you can designate the remainder from a terminating DAF to create an endowment or fund a special project.

Using a DAF to itemize
With recent tax and economic changes, many people no longer itemize their deductions. With a DAF, an individual can bunch several years of charitable gifts into a single year, allowing them to itemize in that year.

More information
Over the past several years, there has been a substantial increase in the popularity of DAFs, and more people are giving to WELS in that way, which means a blessing for those who receive the Word of God through us. If we can provide more information about supporting your congregation, WELS, and WELS-affiliated ministries through a WELS Foundation DAF, please contact us at 800-827-5482 or [email protected].

Making Distributions from a Non-WELS Foundation DAF

To make a gift to support the gospel of Jesus Christ through WELS from your non-WELS Foundation DAF, contact your sponsoring organization to recommend a grant and give them the following:
• Our legal name: WELS Foundation, Inc.
• Our federal tax ID #: 39-6084446
• Our mailing address:
WELS Foundation
N16W23377 Stone Ridge Drive
Waukesha, WI 53188-1108

Charitable Remainder Trusts: A Gift with Multiple Benefits

There are many ways you can support WELS and its mission to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. One wise tool for personal financial planning may be a charitable remainder trust (CRT). These trusts are used to convert appreciated property into a gift to advance the gospel while providing an income for the donor(s) for life or for a term of years.

For example, a WELS member purchased an asset (stock, real estate, rental property, etc.) that has grown in value so much that rebalancing the portfolio or reducing the holdings has become financially prudent. By giving the appreciated asset to WELS Foundation to be put into a CRT, the Foundation can sell the asset within the CRT and create a balanced portfolio that pays an income to the beneficiaries for life or a term of years. The member receives an income tax deduction and spreads out the capital gains over the term of the trust. Furthermore, these deductions can eliminate tax on a significant portion of income for up to six years. They may also make it possible for you to itemize where it would otherwise not be feasible.

One additional benefit that may apply is that the trust remainder that distributes to ministry is excluded from any potential estate taxes. But most importantly, the gospel is advanced because of the gift. WELS Foundation has established a minimum gift for such an arrangement at $200,000 in fair market value.

Find out more about the CRT by consulting with a WELS Christian giving counselor at 800-827-5482 or [email protected].

Helpful Giving Tools

WELS Foundation has made it easier to access resources to support you in your giving, such as:
• Letter of Instruction form
• Gifts of Securities Procedures document
• Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) Procedures document
• Link to the online Gift Options Tool

To access these resources, visit