A Time to Speak — Are you a river or a reservoir?

Erin Zuber

By Erin Zuber

A friend of mine met with his financial advisor to review his financial plan. In the course of the meeting, his advisor mentioned that now might be a good time to capture some of the gains that his stock portfolio has made.

My friend decided that he would do his year-end charitable giving through gifts of appreciated stock and he has encouraged others to follow his lead.

As I heard my friend recount his decision, three things came to my mind. My friend was being generous, an advocate and a river.

That last thought came from a sermon I once heard where the homilist asked, “Are you a river or a reservoir?”

Matthew Kelley says that one of the four traits of a dynamic Catholic is generosity. The first Christian communities were known for their generosity to the poor and needy. As modern Christians, we are called to follow that same example and be generous stewards of our blessings.

Another trait of a good Christian is advocacy or evangelization —  sharing the good news. Not only was my friend displaying a generous spirit, but he was promoting the concept of giving. He was leading by word and example.

Finally, a good Christian is a river that allows his or her blessings to flow to others, rather than being a reservoir that stores one’s blessings for his or her own use. When we accumulate our blessings and do not share them, we lose sight of what it means to be a good steward.

So, if we want to be a river of generosity this Christmas season, what is the best method to use for sharing our financial blessings?

The majority of gifts are usually cash gifts. This method is as easy as writing a check or going online. However, for those of us with a stock portfolio, we may find that donating stock or another type of appreciated asset may prove to be more advantageous by enabling us to make a larger gift.

For example: suppose you purchased stock several years ago for $1,000 and that stock is worth $5,000 today. By donating that stock to your parish, parish school or the archdiocese, your original investment of $1,000 has become a $5,000 gift. In general, you could also experience a double tax benefit. First, your gift will be deductible as a charitable donation to the full extent permitted by law. Second, since you have held the stock for longer than one year, you should avoid having to pay capital gains taxes on the appreciated value of the stock.

Of course, the information in the example above is not intended as legal advice and the archdiocese recommends that a donor always consult with their financial advisor or other qualified professional to determine any actual tax savings for a gift of stock or other appreciated asset.

This Advent season provides us with a great opportunity to undertake a personal audit to determine how we are doing in the generosity department. It is a great time to reflect on whether we are a river or a reservoir.

For additional information on making a year-end gift of cash, stock or other asset to a parish or the archdiocese, please contact Erin Zuber, archdiocese director of planned giving, at 502-585-3291, extension 1128. Remember, gifts need to be completed by Dec. 31 to be included in one’s 2014 tax deductions.

Erin Zuber is director of planned giving for the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Stewardship and Development.

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