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Giving hard-to-value assets: It’s not just for real estate anymore

You are no doubt familiar with the many benefits of giving hard-to-value assets to a charity–and especially to a client’s donor-advised fund at the FM Area Foundation. Because the FM Area Foundation is a public charity, your client is eligible for the maximum allowable tax deduction for their contributions. This is because a client typically can deduct the fair market value of the asset given to the fund, and, furthermore, when the fund sells the asset, the FM Area Foundation (as a public charity) does not pay capital gains tax. This means there is more money in the donor-advised fund to support charities than there would be if your client had sold the hard-to-value asset on their own and then contributed the proceeds to the donor-advised fund.  

 

Individuals can take advantage of giving hard-to-value assets, and so can businesses. For example, when a business is sold, its owners may find themselves with artwork, insurance policies, or real estate on their hands, any of which can be donated to a donor-advised fund with the favorable tax treatment described above. Gifts of real estate have long been popular (although still underutilized) gifts to charity, sometimes making up nearly 3% of the value of all charitable contributions in any given year. 

 

And the universe is expanding! In 2021, gifts of novel non-cash assets made their mark as a viable way to fund donor-advised accounts and other charitable efforts. Cryptocurrency is one type of asset that clients are now giving to charities, which was to be expected given the rise in popularity of Bitcoin and other currencies. But advisors might not have expected to see NFT (non-fungible token) auctions result in more than $1 million in 2021 Giving Tuesday charitable donations processed by Giving Block.  

 

Will NFTs be the next hard-to-value asset donation craze? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, though, the team at the FM Area Foundation is staying close to the trend. We can help your charitable clients make any type of gift by guiding you and your client through the gifting process and, in the case of crypto, collaborating with well-vetted intermediaries, so that your client’s donor-advised fund at the FM Area Foundation can grow and support your client’s favorite charities.  

 

Notably, we will be watching closely as more information becomes available about the environmental cost of donating ephemeral assets because of the stress that mining and transferring Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies place on the energy grid. The toll is so great, for example, that Greenpeace is backing away from accepting gifts of cryptocurrency. But if the $23 billion in NFT sales generated in 2021 (compared with less than $100 million in 2020) is any indication, philanthropy may see significant NFT activity in the years ahead.