This past fall, an excellent article about One Percent Challenge written by Calvin Beresh was published in The Christian Lawyer, the quartely journal of Christian Legal Society. The article is as follows:
One Percent Challenge is a program, developed by a Canadian lawyer, designed to enable Christian lawyers to assist in building their community and in building the Kingdom of God. One Percent Challenge presents the opportunity to actively equip your local church for decades to come, while providing the occasion to give freely of ourselves and bless those who charitably bless others.
This program began as a simple desire to help build the Church and the community. It is based on the truth that you cannot out give God. In July 2008, a lawyer considered ways to effectively bless local churches, ministries and charitable organizations while benefiting his clients.This lawyer challenged himself to sacrificially serve those who gave freely to others.As a result, One Percent Challenge was developed.
One Percent Challenge has become a call to those Christians who desire to give back some of what has been entrusted to them. Luke 12:48 states that “to whom much is given, much will be required.”One Percent Challenge takes this scripture to heart, challenging us to plan to utilize a portion of our wealth to actively further the Kingdom of God.
What exactly is One Percent Challenge? How does it work? Who does it challenge?
It is a challenge to lawyers is to simply offer to prepare a will for free to those clients who choose to bequeath at least one percent of their estate to a church, ministry or charitable organization. When a client provides instructions for a will, which leaves at least one percent of that client’s estate to their own church, the lawyer offers to prepare that client’s will for free. In a sense, it is also a challenge to the individuals to choose to donate a small portion of their estate to a charitable cause.
As a Christian lawyer involved with this program, you can benefit local churches, ministries and charitable organizations through your practice in the same way.Your gift of time is directly multiplied to financially benefit the Kingdom of God, and by offering this program to your clients, you become a witness to them and a positive inspiration to others.As a Christian client, the Challenge dares you to become a witness to your loved ones, even after death, by giving a final gift to the church, which, in turn, helps build your church for decades to come.
Since July 1, 2008, with only one lawyer participant, wills completed through this program have allocated over $13 million to local churches, ministries and charitable organizations in immediate testamentary gifts.These are all gifts that are to be paid out upon the passing of the client(s).That number increases to almost $24 million allocated (when including gifts contingent upon the passing of a third party).
To illustrate the above distinction, a client left an immediate testamentary gift of over $50,000 to the local church, and another $50,000 immediate testamentary gift to a Christian charitable organization. However, in the event that the client’s parent predeceased that client (there is a reasonable likelihood that the parent would pass away before the client), the proceeds of a large insurance policy payable to the parent would revert to the client’s estate, and the resulting contingent gifts would exceed $900,000 to the client’s church and another $900,000 to the Christian charity.
So how does this work, from a practical perspective?
First, the client has a desire to give. The amount may vary, and that desire may be encouraged with our offer to provide a free service to those who give at least one percent of their estate, but the process starts when the client shares their desire to give in collaboration with the 1% Challenge by bequeathing at least one percent of their estate to a church or charitable organization. Second, a thorough client interview is necessary. There are key aspects to the client interview, components that are important to every will intake interview, but are particularly important for the client’s appreciation of their decision, as well as their ability, to charitably give after death.
For example, a preliminary review of the client’s asset structure is important to determine the nature and liquidity of assets. Are there any potential tax problems for the estate? What types of relief can giving provide? What assets will pass outside of the estate, and thus not be available for charitable giving via testamentary bequest? It is also important to gather a detailed family history that may provide crucial information regarding family structure and dependents.What is the best way to properly and fairly care for dependents and family members after death? Has the client considered any standing obligations that need to be met and provided for even after death? Additionally, sufficient information regarding their charitable organization of choice is crucial to ensure that the correct organization(s) is/are identified.
This analysis may determine that the client requires more than a simple testamentary will; a revocable trust may be more prudent for estate planning purposes. Regardless of what type of document is required, the nature of the service remains the same: a charitable bequest payable at death of at least one percent of total assets results in a free will, whether that will is testamentary in nature or a pour-over companion to a revocable trust.
So often, walking through these details with clients provides them with an appreciation for what they have and for what they may desire to give. Many clients, after this analysis, often choose to give more than one percent of their estate.Whatever the percentage that the client chooses to charitably bequeath, the 1% Challenge takes the client’s desire to give and directly blesses the client for acting on that desire. Day by day, Christians across North America are discovering the movement that is the 1% Challenge and are compelled to join in. Strength is found in numbers, and as more and more commit to this paradigm shift of giving, our communities and our world will be changed.
Be amazed at the blessings that come from the blessings you give. If we all work together we can achieve our goal of $100 million charitably given through this program,and substantially give back to our local churches, ministries and charitable organizations in furtherance of the Kingdom of God.