NCPG President's Corner
The Journal of Gift Planning®, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1st Quarter 2002

BY JONATHAN D. ACKERMAN

Today, as never before, the concept of unity has taken on greater significance as our country reacts to the horrific crimes against humanity perpetrated on our own soil. A new and heightened uncertainty exists in our lives, yet our ability to join together for the common good has been profoundly demonstrated in many ways. For instance, the September 11th relief funds are receiving an incredible outpouring of financial support. What has been happening in and to our country affects us all on many levels – as citizens, as individuals, and even as members of a professional community.

The National Committee on Planned Giving, the voice of the gift planning community, is also experiencing change and challenges. Through NCPG's leadership over the last several years, affiliated councils voted at the 2001 Assembly of Delegates to adopt individual membership as a new membership category. It is fair to say that NCPG's Board of Directors, staff, member councils, members of councils and the Assembly itself have matured as a result of this process. Along with this change, NCPG has the continuing challenge of balancing the needs of, and joining together, inherently unique constituencies – charities, gift planners and member councils.

Under the leadership of President Scott Blakesley, and pursuant to a strategic planning session held in August 2001, the NCPG Board of Directors adopted a new mission statement: To increase the quality and quantity of charitable planned gifts by serving as the voice and professional resource for the gift planning community. With its new mission statement and its first individual membership drive, NCPG is poised for long-term growth.

Now, in the wake of the September 11th tragedies, the need for knowledgeable gift planners grows, and the educational services provided by NCPG will be critical. As cash gifts, in the short term, are being disproportionately diverted to relief funds, gift planning must evolve. Gifts of assets, creative gift planning and the potential for the realization of previously funded planned gifts all work together to overcome the shortfall many charities are facing, and help meet current fundraising needs. In addition, Congress surprised us with an estate and gift tax law that de-unifies these two tax regimes and creates sliding scales of tax rates and exemptions, a one-year window of estate tax repeal, a carryover basis rule and a sunset provision for the entire law. By providing quality opportunities for continued and expanded learning, including The Journal of Gift Planning, the National Conference on Planned Giving and the Masters Forum, NCPG will help gift planners keep up with the latest rules, trends and marketing ideas. Also this year, NCPG will produce a national strategy for the continued and managed growth of LEAVE A LEGACY™.

But NCPG is not just about educating gift planners. NCPG's Herculean efforts regarding government relations are paying off as Congressional and IRS representatives specifically request assistance and input from NCPG. As you all know by now, the most significant piece of charitable legislation in recent history was passed at the end of last year. For a detailed summary of Armies of Compassion Act and how it will affect gift planning, please see Jerry McCoy's article in this publication. Our voice was heard and our efforts will continue.

As Benjamin Franklin aptly put it, "We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." It is imperative, therefore, that we act in unity. Over the past few months, our actions as a nation have brought us together, as evidenced in part by the tremendous display of American patriotism. The repercussions of that unification spread out like ripples on a pond. The ripple for NCPG starts with a unified body of members. The first act you must take to bring us together is to join NCPG as an individual member. In unity, NCPG will be strong, and the stronger NCPG is, the more equipped we all will be to produce more and better gifts for the common good.

Jonathan Ackerman, 2002 President of NCPG (now known as Partnership for Philanthropic Planning), represents donors and tax-exempt organizations on a national basis. His advice is often sought by charities in their creation and operation, especially with respect to contributions and other funding opportunities, as well as by families (and their advisors) who desire to integrate philanthropy into their estate plans.