This year my husband and I “purchased” a charitable gift annuity from the American Friends Service Committee with a significant portion of our assets. I call it a purchase, because we will receive a quarterly payment and they will manage and invest the funds, so we are getting something in return— even though the funds we used will stay with AFSC after we die.
There are different names used to describe a charitable annuity (charitable remainder trust, charitable trust, etc.) but the concept is the same: You give a charity some money, they pay you an amount until you die, then they get to keep what is left. Hopefully, if they do a good job of investing the money, it will help their mission and also help you through your retirement years (my husband and I are both nearly 70 years old, so we are thinking about these things). We wanted to do this to simplify things for our executor and make sure our money goes to what we value if we both die in quick succession. The pandemic has made us think more about this possibility.
By “purchasing” the annuity, we don’t worry any more about where the money will go when we die. It’s already there, at a place that will support the peace and social justice work we value. (Learn more about the American Friends Service Committee’s charitable gift annuity program.) And we know it will be invested wisely and in a socially responsible way by a stable organization that has been around for a long time. The monthly payments give us an amount to use in financial planning without having to manage and hold on to the principle. This has given me a great sense of peace and satisfaction.
The charitable annuity is just one part of our estate plan. We also have investments with several community development funds, worker-owned companies and micro-enterprise development organizations that serve the poor. Our wills state that these organizations should just keep the principle when we die. That’s another way to make sure both the mission we believe in and our financial needs while still alive are covered. We still struggle with how much is enough, and periodically donate outright to the things we believe in, knowing that we are still just making a small drop in an ocean of need.
Marty Collier | August 27, 2021
Marty Collier is a retired missionary of the United Methodist Church. She took the Money, Faith and You study course in May 2021.