Best charity as beneficiary for a charitable remainder trust?
January 28, 2021 5:21 PM   Subscribe

We are setting up a charitable remainder trust for a relative. After about 20-40 years any money left in the trust will be donated to a charity we specify. How can we find the best charity to benefit, that will still exist in 20-40 years?

Right now the beneficiary is a certain church. The church, however, already has multi billions in assets and the remainder of this trust might be in $10K-20K range. The amount seems like it would make no difference at all in the church's overall balance sheet or operations.

It would be nice to find a charity where that amount would make more of an impact--yet that is also likely to still be around in 20-40 years. Possible interest areas are birth defects, downwinders, and groups that help people with visual impairments. Generally speaking we'd like to find a charity that will be making a real positive impact in people's lives.

We would be interested in specific suggestions for charities (which must be 501(c)3 charities, as far as I understand) or the best way to go about searching for and/or investigating potential charities. We have done some searching of that type and found it less than helpful.
posted by flug to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: One option is to make the beneficiary a donor-direct charitable gift account and the relative can choose someone to control the account after they are gone. We did this, our kids are named as backup after our death and we gave them a list of the charities we are interested in, trusting them to figure out what is reasonable at the time.

Second option is to ask the lawyer if the relative can change the specific charity in the future as long as it still a 501c3. So if you pick one and you change your mind or it goes under, you can change the designation.

At the very least, you can hedge your bets by naming a recipient charity with a back-up if the first is no longer in existence.
posted by metahawk at 6:10 PM on January 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Just wanted to suggest Guide Dogs for the Blind. I know people who are puppy raisers - the program is life-changing and free to the person who receives the dogs. Been in existence since 1955.
posted by metahawk at 6:13 PM on January 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: With the proviso that this approach would work best for a charity in your area and not a national charity, this would be a good question to pose to your local community foundation. They’re in the business of helping donors find worthy organizations (including their own community funds) to support. They’re likely to have good ideas for maximizing the impact of a low-five figure gift that may not be realized for several decades.
posted by cheapskatebay at 6:23 PM on January 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Give Directly gives cash directly to people living in poverty.
posted by aniola at 6:33 PM on January 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Depending where you live, that amount of money would make a difference to a mid to small-sized public library. Worth a little looking to see about whether they or their Friends group would be a 501(c)3, but you could put that money towards accessibility aids for people at their public library (large print books, audio books, other options) or donate to your state's library for the blind. Both of those would make a direct difference for people and will be around in 20-40 years.
posted by jessamyn at 7:34 PM on January 28, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I think a good way to handle this is to have a list of about 10 charities and split the remainder among them, with the right wording then if any no longer exist in 30 years, it will just be split amongst those that are remaining.
This also has the benefit that you are hedging your bets about which charity will be most worthwhile in 30 years time.
posted by Lanark at 7:05 AM on January 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Many cities and towns have a Community Foundation, which aggregates gifts large and small and which tends to keep good track of where the needs in the community are. Most do offer donor-directed gift options.
posted by yclipse at 2:10 PM on January 29, 2021

My folks' default is St. Jude's children's hospital. We tangentially know at least 3 children who have been saved by them.
posted by lilywing13 at 4:58 AM on January 31, 2021

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