Pay It Forward: Generational change is coming

We are at an exceptional time in history because the face of philanthropy is changing.

Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) are getting older, and over the next 20 years, the boomer generation will pass away. That shift will cause a $30 to 40 trillion-dollar generational transfer of wealth (according to Forbes magazine). In fact, this transfer is thought to be more than at any other time in history.

As a younger “baby boomer” myself, I’m able to watch both what is happening to the older boomers, and the generation coming up, Generation X (1965-1980). Gen X is significantly smaller than the baby boomer generation. Demographers tell us that for every 100 boomers there are only 66 Gen Xers. While that will be significant in many ways, it will be especially noteworthy to nonprofits who rely heavily on donations for a large part of their income.

If you support a local nonprofit, it’s because of the work they do. Whether it’s the arts, education, the environment, fighting hunger, or something else, people are concerned about the causes and organizations to which they have dedicated so much. People are planning end-of-life gifts to continue to support those things they gave to in life. End-of-life (or bequest) gifts are for everyone.

There is a misconception in some quarters that end-of-life gifts are a tool of millionaires and billionaires. Nothing could be further from the truth. While large gifts are amazing and get a lot of attention, the truth is much more marvelously mundane. The average end-of-life gift is $37,000. That is the average gift, meaning about half are less than that amount. Most donors making these gifts are people of average means. Many donors like the idea of leaving a bequest gift, and can give a larger bequest gift than they felt comfortable giving while they were alive. At this point, they don’t need the resources and can give without fear of running short.

What sorts of things can be a bequest gift? Cash, stocks, securities and precious metals are often given as bequest gifts. Some people will leave their home or other property as a gift. Valuable art, vehicles and other significant personal property can also be the basis of a bequest gift. In these cases, the nonprofit will typically sell the property and use the proceeds of the sale as the gift. The more complex the gift, the more likely a will or trust document would be needed.

Gifts can also be simple. Anyone can leave an end-of-life gift by including that gift in a will or trust or simply making a nonprofit a “pay on death” beneficiary of a life insurance, bank account, or IRA. In the latter cases, talk to your broker, agent or banker for the right forms. Just name the nonprofit as a beneficiary for all or a portion of the value. It even bypasses probate.

You can give directly to an agency or through an endowed fund at the Homer Foundation that will support the cause you care about forever.

We can help. As they say, none of us are getting out of here alive. Give to what you care about and create an amazing forever legacy. Don’t let the mechanics be a barrier to your giving plans.

After retiring from the U.S. Air Force, Mike Miller worked as a city and county administrator in the Lower 48. He later became a nonprofit leader in Alaska, working with Camp Fire Alaska before becoming the executive director at the Food Bank of Alaska. Mike is now the executive director for the Homer Foundation.

March 2023 nonprofit needs:

South Peninsula Haven House’s Shelter is in need of hair brushes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hygienic products, socks, slippers, hair ties and clips, notebooks, and to-go reusable coffee cups. Please call 907-235-7712 or drop off at 3776 Lake Street Monday-Friday between 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.