Find a new home for that toy train collection

What do a P-51, a concert violin, a toy train collection and an old beach cabin have in common?
All four were turned into creative gifts to charity, made in lieu of cash.

That’s right. Your favorite nonprofit might be the best place to give things you had never considered giving them, because you figured what they need most is cash to sustain their missions.

What sorts of things?  Maybe your spouse collects vintage baseballs, but none of your daughters wants to inherit them.  Maybe you inherited a beach cabin back in Minnesota, but you never use it.  Maybe you wound up with a classic Dusenberg that is gathering dust in a garage.

The best market for memorabilia is usually another collector.   If you donate them to a favorite charity instead, three good things happen.  The charity sells them for cash, you may receive a tax break, and those baseballs still wind up in the hands of someone who loves them.

Likewise, that old cabin on the lake you feel guilty for neglecting can provide a hefty gift to charity, allowing you to hang on to other assets for your own use.   This makes a lot of sense, especially when other assets have declined in value.

You also receive a subtle bonus when you turn a keepsake into a charitable gift.  If you simply sell it, you might suffer seller’s remorse.  Giving it to charity triggers a ripple effect.   That concert violin might fund a scholarship for a music student.   That vintage car might provide job training for someone struggling to find work.

Check the attic.  What you thought was part of your dusty past may have a future.

Mike Robinson is Senior Vice President of Planned Giving at United Way of Pierce County. Please consult a qualified estate planner before making a charitable gift.