Frequently Asked Questions
What is a planned gift?
Planned gifts are charitable contributions that are planned for in the present but not fully received by the beneficiary until a later date. Planned gifts are often made through wills and trusts. Other types of planned gifts may pay you income during your lifetime, or help you reduce income and estate taxes. Your planned gift to First Congregational Church is a lasting statement of your support for the mission and ministry of our church, your good stewardship of your assets, and your faith in God that continues beyond your lifetime.
Do I need a lawyer to make a planned gift?
We always suggest that you seek appropriate financial or legal counsel before making any type of planned giving gift to FCCEJ. In many cases, such as adding FCCEJ as a beneficiary designation, you can work directly with your retirement or insurance plan administrator. The Vermont Community Foundation can help establish a Charitable Gift Annuity.
What is a life income gift?
A life income gift allows the donor to set aside funds that produce an income to the donor while providing for the church’s future. The proceeds of this gift go to the church upon the donor’s death but while alive, the donor receives income on an ongoing basis. One such vehicle is a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA). The Vermont Community Foundation will assist anyone who wishes to establish a CGA benefiting the church, with no charge to the donor. The minimum amount to establish a Charitable Gift Annuity is $25,000.
Where do planned gifts go?
Planned gifts will be designated to the FCCEJ Endowment Fund to provide sustaining support for the church. Every planned gift will help the Endowment Fund continue to grow over time. As the Endowment Fund grows and realizes more investment gains each year, the amount of revenue available for the church to spend grows as well.
Why is the Endowment important?
The goal of an endowment is to provide sustaining support to the church into the future. Unlike annual stewardship campaign gifts or pledges which are used for the current year’s operating costs; an endowment provides funds so that the church can be supported for many years to come. Endowments are designed to keep the principal amount intact while using the investment income and gains to support the church’s mission.
How does the Endowment generate funds to support the mission of the church?
The FCCEJ Finance Committee oversees the Endowment Fund in accordance with the Church Endowment Policy. There is a calculation that determines the size of the endowment distribution each year, with safeguards in place to ensure that we are protecting principal and only spending a portion of the income gains. Endowment funds may be used to support special projects in three key areas: missions and outreach, education and youth, and capital needs. Church Council determines how the funds are used every year. Past projects include support for the Jamaica mission trips, youth retreats, classroom furnishings, seed money for the community concert series, elevator modernization, and more.
What is a Donor Advised Fund?
A Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is a philanthropic vehicle established at a public charity such as the Vermont Community Foundation. It allows donors to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax benefit and then recommend grants from the fund over time to FCCEJ and/or other nonprofit organizations you care about. This may be an excellent vehicle for your charitable giving.
The Vermont Community Foundation has philanthropic advisors available to help you create a Donor Advised Fund (DAF). Typically, donors use stock or cash to open a DAF. Once your fund is established, you recommend grants out of the DAF to the church or other organizations you choose. If you would like to learn more, please contact the church office and we will connect you to the Vermont Community Foundation.
How can I help the church and take care of my family at the same time?
We realize that it is important to take care of loved ones while also remembering our church. By giving a portion or a percentage of an asset, you can help both your family and the church.
Why is it important to have a will?
Every adult should have an estate plan regardless of his or her economic circumstances. Without an estate plan, our assets are allocated by formula without any consideration of our heirs or wishes. Estate planning is the continuation of our good stewardship at the time of our death and beyond.
Do some planned gifts offer better tax advantages?
Yes, some gifts such as Charitable Gift Annuities, through a retirement plan and donation of appreciated securities can offer tax advantages. It is always best to talk directly to your accountant or financial advisor about tax advantages.
Do I have to be wealthy to make a planned gift?
No. The most important thing is your intention. Each gift, no matter the size, makes a difference and is deeply appreciated.
Can I change my mind if I make a planned gift?
It depends on the particular type of planned gift. Bequests and beneficiary designations are examples of revocable gifts that can be changed during your lifetime. A Charitable Gift Annuity is irrevocable; once opened, it cannot be closed although it is possible to change the beneficiary of the CGA. Your attorney or financial advisor can help you decide what tool is best for you.
What is the Legacy Circle?
The Legacy Circle is a group of FCCEJ members and friends who have designated a planned gift for FCCEJ. People may choose to be anonymous members. When you designate a planned gift for First Congregational Church of Essex Junction, please notify the Financial Secretary so that we may keep accurate records and add you to the Legacy Circle.
Do I need to use special wording if I leave a gift in my will?
Yes, the proper wording is important so that your gift is made to the correct church. To make a gift to First Congregational Church of Essex Junction, please use the following wording:
Sample Bequest Language:
“I give, bequeath, and devise First Congregational Church located at 1 Church Street, Essex Junction, VT 05452, whose Federal Tax ID is 03-0212216.” (here follows the dollar amount or percentage of the gift, or an accurate description of the securities, insurance policy, retirement funds, or the amount or percentage of the residual estate, or the real estate or other assets given.)