A Focus on Philanthropy

Forum Planned in Pasadena on Charity, Taxes

Published : Thursday, October 18, 2018 | 4:41 AM

Northern Trust Trust Wealth Strategist Diane Rankin (left) and nonprofit and tax expert Reynolds Cafferata (center) will be featured speakers at tonight's free seminar. At right, Jennifer Fleming DeVoll, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pasadena Community Foundation.

Giving may be its own reward, but tax deductions are nice, too.

Pasadena is a very charitable city, by most accounts. Which is why the Pasadena Community Foundation is hosting a free seminar to help residents make the most of the tax benefits that come along with that generosity.

The presentation, co-sponsored by the Pasadena Conservatory of Music, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday in the theater at a Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd.

The meeting comes by request, PCF CEO Jennifer DeVoll said.

“We were actually asked by some local nonprofit organizations to sponsor or host an event that would educate their donors about how to be most effective and strategic with regard to their own philanthropy,” she said.

The forum is to feature nonprofit and tax expert Reynolds Cafferata, as well as Northern Trust Trust Wealth Strategist Diane Rankin.

It will include topics such as making the most out of charitable dollars while minimizing tax liability, avoiding common mistakes and donor-advised funds, organizers said.

Michael Bateman, managing director at a Noise Within, said he thinks guests will learn useful information during the presentation.

The meeting is intended to be “a way to demystify the implications of the new tax law and on charitable giving and to give people a deeper and more thorough understanding of how they can maximize both their own tax benefits and their philanthropic motivations,” he said.

“I think here, more than most places in the U.S., that kind of information is going to be a really useful and valuable to people, just because of how incredibly philanthropic and community-minded Pasadenans tend to be,” Bateman said.

DeVoll said philanthropy is “in the DNA of Pasadena.”

“You look at the numbers for Pasadena — what are people giving, adjusted for their income as a percentage of their income to charity — Pasadena comes out as a very generous community,” she said. “I think that enables us to sustain so many nonprofits in our community that do such amazing work, and educational institutions, cultural organizations, social services organizations, all of them.”

“You really can’t meet a person in this community who isn’t involved with a nonprofit in some capacity, whether they’re a volunteer, whether they’re on the board, whether they’re a donor,” DeVoll said. “It’s just part of what everybody does.”

Pasadena Conservatory of Music Director of Development Melissa Froelich said Pasadena’s charitable spirit is obvious.

“I think that by how many nonprofits that are thriving here, that’s a testament to how many people support giving back and believe in philanthropy and have been raised in a charitable home,” she said.

The variety of organizations in the city is a great benefit to residents, she added.

“You have a lot of different kinds of nonprofits that serve a bunch of different needs, even within the arts community,” Froelich said. “I think people like seeing that their city has so many different services available.”

Mayor Terry Tornek said philanthropy is and has always been, a central part of Pasadena’s culture.

“We have philanthropic organizations both faith-based and not faith-based that provide services that the city can’t do or shouldn’t do,” he said.

“It goes back really to the founding people,” he said. “These were sort of solid midwestern folks who believed in philanthropy and volunteerism.”

“Although the city has changed… that spirit of philanthropy I’m convinced has survived and that example continues,” the mayor said.

Tornek and Pasadena Chamber of Commerce President Paul Little don’t see eye-to-eye on some issues. But they agree that generosity is fundamental to the city.

“Pasadena has always been a community that sort of gives from the heart,” Little said.”That’s a very long history of that in Pasadena. It’s volunteerism, but it’s also looking at ways to improve the lives and the situation of other people. And the Pasadena Community Foundation now is sort of a successor to a lot of those initiatives.”

“I think we’re lucky in that we do have so many institutions and individuals here who really want to make a difference in the lives of other people,” he said.

More information is available online on the Pasadena Community Foundation’s website at pasadenacf.org, or by phone at (626) 683-3355.