The E-Newsletter for Minnesota Philanthropists
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MNSights, the E-Newsletter for Minnesota Philanthropists

Tracking the New Tax Laws

  Jeremy Wells  

You’ve probably been having plenty of conversations with clients about the tax law changes and how they’ll affect clients’ financial pictures. It’s been on our minds too, as we talk with advisors, donors and nonprofits about the shifts in regard to charitable giving.  
One of the things we’ve been hearing advisors talk about is encouraging clients to cluster charitable donations in order to exceed the now-higher standard deduction — so that, say, a client gives $30,000 to an organization in one year instead of repeating a $10,000 donation over three individual years. While this makes sense from a tax perspective, we’re hearing some concern from local nonprofits that they can’t always wait through those off years to get to that giving year. We’d like to offer another option: a donor advised fund with The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations.
With a donor advised fund, your clients can still make a bigger lump sum payment to get the tax write-off if they’re itemizing that year. They also have more flexibility of how to gift money out of the fund after that, including choosing to give that $10,000 donation annually to their favorite nonprofit to help it meet its annual budgetary needs in a more consistent way.  
Or maybe a donor advised fund isn’t the best route to go, and a charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder trust would be a better fit. There are creative ways we can work together to consider your clients’ financial picture, their philanthropic goals and the tax implications — we’re happy to support you and your clients however we can. You’ll find more info below about tools and events we’re offering to help do that.

—Jeremy Wells, Vice President of Philanthropic Services, The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations
Contact Jeremy
Wei Huang, chief investment officer, The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations
Wei Huang, chief investment officer, The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations

Born and raised in Shanghai and educated on the east coast of the United States, Wei Huang brings a fresh voice and perspective to The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations’ chief investment officer position — as well as a wealth of investment experience: His resume includes public equity, private equity and alternative investments. We recently spoke with Huang as he settles into his new role with the Foundations.


What attracted you to the position? 
“I served on the United Way of Portage County committee in Wisconsin for almost a decade. I’m passionate about giving back to the community, and I also have young kids. When I had the opportunity to join the Foundations, I realized this was really a unique job, one where I don’t have to do two separate things — working for an insurance company by day, then working on the committee after work. As CIO of the Foundations, I can combine those two things into one job — so that’s very refreshing. I also truly believe in President and CEO Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D.’s vision, and I like the culture here.”


How does the investment team help donors maximize their giving and philanthropic goals?
“In this day and age, donors have a lot of options. The larger financial institutions often have ‘off-the-shelf’, cookie-cutter investment portfolios that donors can use. With our Foundations, we try to give the donor a very well-rounded, full-service package with expertise. We offer a very customized portfolio and we help our donors give locally. My vision is to make sure we invest in a cost-effective manner. We have built a very well diversified, risk-adjusted return portfolio for our donors, so they can feel comfortable their money will last much longer and enable them to give to a lot of causes they care about.”


What do you anticipate will be the biggest rewards and challenges of the position?
“The biggest reward to me, optimally, is making sure we preserve the purchasing power — in good cycles, but more importantly, in down cycles, too. We need adequate dollars to give out during those down cycles, because that’s when charities and local communities need it the most. That will be my biggest reward, but also my biggest challenge. I think by building a successful and very well diversified portfolio, we can build enough buffer to continue to generate that giving.”


What tips would you give donors to maximize and achieve their philanthropic goals?
“I think it’s important that donors feel confident that they are going to partner with the Foundations. I spend a lot of time talking to investment managers and investment partners before I invest with them, so I think donors should do the same thing, too. Set up as many meetings as possible with potential foundations you’re looking to partner with. Talk to not only the fundraising people, but also the investment and giving teams. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident you can trust them.”

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The Best of Both Worlds
The Best of Both Worlds 

Donor advised funds have long been a good option for clients who have philanthropic intent but don’t want the extra expense and work of a private foundation. Now, with the advent of Individually Managed Funds (IMF) at The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations, advisor Ben Marks only sees it getting better.
“The IMF program removes a major obstacle for clients because many of them prefer to keep their trusted investment advisor involved in the investment decision-making, and now with this program they can do that,” says Marks, who helped a high-net-worth client set up two IMFs in 2017.
So far, Marks says he and his client are both very happy with the process. His client gets the full range of the Foundations’ services, educational opportunities, and gifting expertise like with a traditional donor advised fund, while also having the peace of mind of keeping their assets invested with their longtime advisor. “It was a very seamless process to establish this relationship with the Foundations,” says Marks. “We feel privileged that we have a partnership with The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations because they’re such a well-respected philanthropic organization.”

Contact a Gift Planner
A Community of Generosity

A Community of Generosity


Donor advised fundholders at The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations make positive change possible every day. They are a pillar of philanthropy in our community, and their generosity is wide-reaching. In 2017, donor advised fund grants went to organizations in 63 of Minnesota’s 87 counties.

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Don't Miss: Insider Briefings
Michael P. Sampson, Maslon LLP, speaking at May's Insider Briefing event
Don’t Miss: Insider Briefings

Did you know that The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations offer free lunchtime workshops to help you stay up-to-date on charitable planning issues? (Bonus: you can earn continuing education credits in the process.) Our most recent Insider Briefing event, on May 16, covered the pros and cons of private family foundations vs. donor advised funds. We have two more events coming up this fall:
• The Final Countdown: End of Life Planning. On Thursday, Sept. 13, attorney Bob Chandler of Chandler and Brown, Ltd. will talk about end-of-life planning at the Foundations’ offices in downtown Saint Paul.
Planning Your Legacy – Coordinating Business Succession and Charitable Planning. On Nov. 1, Sally Grossman and Sheryl Morrison of Gray Plant Mooty will talk at the Minneapolis Club in downtown Minneapolis.
Both events go from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., include lunch, and are free to advisors. If you’re interested in attending, keep your eyes open for a follow-up email with registration information closer to the event date. If you’re not on our email list and would like to be added, please contact

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