Foundation for the Carolinas, Episode #60

When you think of Charity organizations, do you think of a simple giving and receiving relationship? Or do you recognize there are complexities involved in contributing and receiving gifts like real estate, business interests, and non-cash assets? As you can probably tell from the questions above, there is a lot more that goes into charitable giving (and receiving) than what we often believe.

This episode features Doug Benson, Senior Vice President & In-House Counsel for Foundation of the Carolinas. Doug oversees the legal, regulatory, and compliance issues for the foundation and co-leads the Foundations’ philanthropic advancement team. He works with donors and their professional advisors to coordinate the planning, negotiation, and acceptance of traditional and complex gifts, including gifts of closely held business interests, real estate, and other non-cash assets. He also speaks on these topics in a variety of contexts. This conversation dives into the ways charitable organizations work, what’s involved in some of the more complex charitable issues, and more.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…

  • My friendship with Doug Benson and how he became involved in Foundation for the Carolinas [2:08]
  • The definition of a “Community Foundation” [4:25]
  • Are charitable donations made mainly because of the tax benefits? [7:47]
  • The stats on giving in the United States, and the best ideas for giving [11:42]
  • IRA qualified charitable contributions [15:17]
  • Business gifting: A growing area of charitable giving [17:27]
  • What are donor-advised funds and how do they work? [18:33]
  • Legacy: The idea of creating something for tomorrow [25:10]
  • Annual gifts done simply and effectively, even after you die [29:03]
  • Making a lasting impact no matter your income or financial status [34:21]
  • What Doug did today that put him in the right mindset for joy and success [35:30]

What is a Community Foundation?

Can there be a single pool of charitable funds, received from all citizens of an area, that can be used for the betterment of the community? That was the question being asked back in 1914 when the Cleveland Foundation was first conceived. It was the first Community Trust concept in action. Today there are over 800 foundations of this type but they can be very different in many ways. In spite of those differences, there are a number of things that Community Foundations have in common.

Community Foundations are all focused on geographic areas. They also work with individuals, non-profits, and corporations with the goal of helping those individuals and organizations carry out their philanthropy. But one thing that sets community foundations apart from other sorts of charitable organizations is that there is a great opportunity for civic leadership involving corporate players, governmental leaders, and more.

There is a direct correlation between happiness and generosity

A number of studies demonstrate that those who are involved in charitable giving are happier. It’s a bit of a “chicken and the egg” question — are they happier BECAUSE they give, or do they give because they are happier? It’s impossible to know but the connection can’t be denied. Doug sees this connection with the donors he works with. Everyone has their own capacity to give, but regardless… they are able to benefit from the happiness-factor regardless of the amount they are able to give.

What has your experience been in this respect? Do you give because you are helping others, but also because you feel better about yourself as a result?

One of the BEST ways to give is through appreciated, publicly-traded stock

Recent data reveals that $450 billion was given to charitable causes last year (2020). Gifts given by individuals account for over $300 billion of that total. As you might expect, much of that giving was done in cash. That’s a very easy way to give but it’s the least tax-efficient way to give. Doug explains that one of the best ways to give is by donating appreciated, publicly-traded stocks (Apple, Tesla, GE, etc.). Why is it such a great way of giving?

  1. The donor receives a charitable deduction on the value of the stock on the day of donation
  2. The charity can sell the stock and not have to pay capital gains tax on it

Giving in this way, the donor benefits as well as the charity. Doesn’t it make sense to give in the way that will most benefit the charity you want to support? And in return, you also receive the maximum tax benefits you can.

Doug is a wealth of information, so be sure you listen to hear more about how charitable giving can be maximized in additional ways.

DISCLOSURE: The charitable entities and/or fundraising opportunities described herein are not endorsed by, or affiliated with CWM, LLC or its affiliates. The philanthropic interests are personal to us and are not reviewed, sponsored, or approved by CWM, LLC.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Doug Benson


Doug Benson is Senior Vice President & In-House Counsel at Foundation For The Carolinas in Charlotte, N.C. In this role, he oversees legal, regulatory, and compliance issues at the Foundation and co-leads the Foundation’s Philanthropic Advancement team. Doug works with donors and their professional advisors to coordinate the planning, negotiation, and acceptance of traditional and complex gifts, including gifts of closely held business interests, real estate, and other non-cash assets. Since joining the Foundation in 2012, he has played a key role in facilitating charitable gifts of non-cash assets in excess of $250 million.

Doug also regularly works with donors and their families in designing and implementing planned gifts. Prior to joining FFTC, Doug practiced as an estate-planning attorney for 12 years with Moore & Van Allen PLLC in Charlotte and with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP (now Eversheds Sutherland) in Washington, D.C. His practice areas included estate planning and administration, tax planning, and charitable planning.

Doug holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Rochester and a J.D. from Duke University School of Law. He is a member of the American Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Association, as well as the Duke University Estate Planning Conference Planning Committee, the Queens University Estate Planners Day Steering Committee (Chair 2019/2020) and the Charlotte Estate Planning Council. Doug is a frequent speaker on a broad range of charitable and estate planning topics, including charitable gifts of closely held business interests, ethical considerations of nonprofit board service, planned giving, board governance and tax-exempt entities. Doug lives in Charlotte with his wife Tara and their two children.

Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative of CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.

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