Published on August 28, 2020

An Easy, Creative Giving Strategy to Support Arcadia's Work

Of course, I keep giving to Arcadia. I know that usual program sources of income have shrunk because of the pandemic. And I believe in Arcadia's work this year as much as last year. — Janice Jorgensen

Janice Jorgensen

Janice Jorgensen is a semi-retired Hadley resident and advocate for Panama indigenous communities with aspirations to be a good birder. She is also a creative strategist who has helped Arcadia grow and thrive through serving on our Sanctuary Committee and the Bird-A-Thon Fundraising team.

She's not a financial advisor, but Janice wanted to share her own experiences with supporting causes she believes in—including Arcadia and the Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries—with Required Minimum Distributions (RMD).

Learn more about giving to Mass Audubon through an IRA Charitable Rollover.

Can you tell us what a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) is in everyday speak?

There are two requirements for an RMD. One, you have to have an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). And two, you need to be 70 1/2 years old.

Once you meet these two requirements, you will have to take a certain percentage out of your IRA annually. Each year, the financial advisor at the company that holds my IRA tells me the amount of money that I have to take out. I can take the money myself for what I want or need, which is taxed. Or I can give RMD money to non-profit organizations, which is not taxed.

The first year I got alerted that I had to take an RMD, I was unfamiliar with how it all worked. But now I know that the easiest way to give—and to receive the tax break for giving to 501(c)(3) organizations—is to provide my financial advisor the name of the organization and how to much send. Then my investment company takes care of sending the checks in care of my address directly to the places I want to support.

You've chosen to use some of your RMD money to support Arcadia. What inspired you to do that?

I feel connected to the Arcadia community so I want to make sure it thrives. I also believe strongly in the multiple-pronged missions of protecting land, educating about the environment, and acting to address climate change. Each of these three areas of work is important, but combining them makes the impact locally even greater.

Were there changes made to the RMD rules because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

I was not required to take the money this year. I could have let it roll over. If I had let it roll over, the total amount of the fund most likely would increase and I’d need to take more in future years.

Has your RMD giving changed this year, or not? Why?

Not significantly. I have been able to keep giving to organizations I believe in. I continue to give most of my gifts locally. I have given more to groups meeting emergency needs such as food and shelter. I used to give to women’s sports at universities, but since they are not happening this year I am figuring out how to redirect the money to another part of the institutions.

Of course, I keep giving to Arcadia. I know that usual program sources of income have shrunk because of the pandemic. And I believe in Arcadia’s work this year as much as last year.

Any advice for your fellow IRA holders who have to take RMDs?

Analyze your personal and family needs. Then for the funds you don’t need personally, make a plan for what organizations you want to support in an on-going way. When you commit to consistent support for an organization, they can make better long-term plans. And they’ll know what donors they can turn to even in challenging economic times.

It is important to check in your financial advisor about specifics of how your RMD program works and to keep up on any changes to the RMD program.