When most of us think of sizeable charitable gifts—or in some cases an estate gift—our minds turn to well-heeled philanthropists cutting hefty cheques in support of their favourite causes. And quite often, that is the case. But as experienced donors will point out, supporting the charitable sector isn’t merely about donating cash. Virtually any type of qualifying property can be gifted to a registered charity (or qualified donee) in Canada. From art and vehicles to real estate properties such as homes and cottages, the creative options for philanthropists wishing to make a meaningful gift are wide and varied—even though accepting an in-kind gift can require more time and resources for the recipient charity.
Enter the story of 1-3 Chipman Lane in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The stunning four-bedroom, 5.39-acre luxury home with frontage on Lake Milo was built by a successful family in the late 1990s. A property of this scale took many years to construct, at which time, the remaining owner opted to make a charitable bequest in a will and give back to the community by donating the mansion to an area charity.
The donor’s advisors researched and presented a number of donation options. The donor considered gifting Chipman Lane to a hospital or other health care organization in the community to use as the organization’s administrators saw fit. These charities, when evaluating the resources required to manage such a large property so clearly suited to residential use, were thankful, but felt the gift should be directed elsewhere at that time. While this may seem unusual— why would an organization deliver a gracious ‘no thanks’ when offered such a remarkable property? —it is not an uncommon scenario in the charitable sector. The reason is that most charities are equipped to accept large cash donations, but other types of major gifts are complex and can create a burden for the recipient charity.
A complex transaction
Taking on a estate gift such as an extensive property that requires detailed maintenance and upkeep can, in some cases, negatively impact a charity’s cash flow and actually impair its ability to support its ongoing programs.
Most charities need to devote all of their resources to delivering their own program activities, as well as managing their regular administration and annual reporting obligations; they lack the additional staff, time and financial resources to appraise, maintain and list the property if the decision is made to liquidate and use the cash proceeds to fund the charity’s operational costs.
And those are only a small handful of the many property-management considerations that could come into play with an estate gift of this magnitude.
Catering to the needs of philanthropists making charitable bequests
In this case, the donor’s executor wanted to be strategic and determine the most effective way to give back to the Yarmouth community to fulfill the donor’s giving goals. Rather than donating the property to one health care organization, the executor decided to gift it to Canada Gives, instead.
By creating a Canada Gives Foundation account and leveraging a donor advised fund structure, the executor was able to pass the management of Chipman Lane to our organization, alleviating the burden of upkeep on the property, as well as the listing and sales process—until such time as the property is sold and the proceeds can be distributed to a number of charities.
Donating the property to Canada Gives also allowed the donor’s name to remain anonymous, an important feature that appeals to many wealthy benefactors.
A stress-free approach to giving
In addition, Canada Gives manages all annual filing and reporting obligations with the Canada Revenue Agency, which is another onerous responsibility that most philanthropists and their executors are eager to discharge when possible. Lastly, a Canada Gives Foundation account can be established in less than a day and costs nothing to establish. With these factors taken into account, working with our organization became a logical next step for the executors.
Notably, Canada Gives offers specialized, boutique support to our donor clients and various charities alike, so we’re able to manage an estate gift of this size and complexity. Our team had Chipman Lane appraised and it is currently for sale. We’re now working with the executor to develop a strategy to disburse the proceeds once the sale is eventually completed.
That includes helping to vet potential recipient charities using the expertise of our Client Services team. That centralized approach saves our donor clients countless hours that could be spent doing charity research, grant management and finalizing gift agreements, were they to handle the task on their own.
Most importantly, this approach enabled the philanthropists to achieve their overarching goal: channeling a gift worth millions of dollars directly to the charitable sector, all while maintaining their privacy. Chipman Lane is a wonderful example of the potential for good when creativity and a strategic approach come together to make a lasting difference.
For information on managing estate gifts, please contact us at any time.
The Canada Gives Team