Trailblazers: Secure Act 2.0 leads to new gift opportunity

Ed and Kathy Ruse are trailblazers in how they support LSC. The couple was motivated to make a planned gift to the nonprofit because of Ed Ruse’s experience as a teammate in the LSC New Americans Program.

From 2011 through 2015, he worked with refugee families out of LSC’s Raleigh office where he specialized in English as a second language (ESL), school enrollment, job placement, vocational job training, personal finance training and donations. Before and after his time with LSC, Ed Ruse served as a volunteer on a variety of refugee resettlement projects with Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Raleigh.

Since retiring, Kathy and Ed have contributed annually to LSC through the LSC Shepherd Society, mainly using a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from Ed’s Traditional IRA. With this year’s gift, they passed the $50,000 threshold to become Lifetime Shepherd Society members and joined the company of LSC Golden Staff donors.

When they recently learned about the changes to the Secure Act 2.0, the couple made a Charitable Gift Annuity of $50,000 and designated LSC as the remainder beneficiary, specifically the For The Children Endowment, part of LSC’s Be The Light campaign. This gift is the first of its kind for LSC.

“It was simply to give back to Lutheran Services Carolinas in repayment for the privilege of over 4 years of most fulfilling employment in the resettling of refugees from many nations and cultures and working alongside an exceptional LSC team of professional colleagues and volunteers,” Ed Ruse said.

“We both hope that, in time, our gift will make a difference in the lives of many refugee children,” Kathy Ruse added.

The For The Children Endowment will help LSC meet the future needs of children in North Carolina through innovative programs and services. Annual earnings from the endowment will be used to support services for children where they are needed most.

 What is the SECURE Act 2.0?

Thanks to the SECURE Act 2.0, signed into law on December 29, 2022, some donors are now able to make a one-time Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from a traditional IRA to a split-interest entity, such as a charitable gift annuity.

Under current tax law, a donor 70.5 years or older may donate $100,000 per year to qualifying charities from the donor’s IRA.  This kind of distribution could be used to satisfy the donor’s required minimum distribution (RMD) and would likely not be recognized as income to the donor. In addition, it would not qualify for a charitable contribution deduction.

So, what’s new in SECURE 2.0?

A donor 70.5 or older can now transfer a QCD of up to $50,000 from a traditional IRA to a “split-interest entity” that will pay a fixed percentage for life to the donor and/or donor’s spouse. This split-interest entity could be a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT), charitable remainder annuity trust (CRAT), or charitable gift annuity (CGA). While a transfer of this kind would not qualify for a charitable contribution deduction, it also would not cause the donor to recognize income on the distribution, but it could allow the donor to satisfy all or part of the donor’s RMD (now required beginning at age 73).  Payments received by the donor or donor’s spouse under the annuity would be taxable as ordinary income. The taxpayer may only make this transfer during one tax year for a maximum of $50,000.

An ultimate charitable beneficiary (like Lutheran Services Carolinas) would be named to receive the remaining balance at the death of the donor, or the second death if spouses are both named as income recipients.

When Ed and Kathy Ruse heard about this concept from a postcard mailing from LSC in early 2023, they were intrigued and decided to implement a CGA with their QCD from an IRA, to ultimately benefit LSC.

“We hope that in talking about our experience with this attractive approach to charitable giving, others in our financial position may join us in using it to give to Lutheran Services Carolinas as well,” the couple said.

A beautiful tribute

The Ruses made this gift in honor of their mothers, Margaret Weise Ruse and Dorothy I. Carroll.

Ed Ruse’s mother Margaret Ruse, who passed away in June 2006, was a lifelong Lutheran who often and strongly encouraged him to pursue a life of service. A teacher of German and Spanish in the Houston Independent School District, she also instilled in him an appreciation of all things international.

Dorothy Carroll, Kathy Ruse’s mother, had a heart for children and her willingness to give was manifested in over 20 years of volunteer work with the local clinic, where among other things, she crafted 41,000 finger puppets to cheer up children who had just received an injection or a blood draw. She passed away earlier this year, and for much of those last months, worried about the children of Ukraine, and donated to the World Central Kitchen. Anything that can ease the lives of endangered or challenged children and their families would please her immensely, Kathy Ruse said.

“We appreciate so much what you have done for us, as a teammate and this way. It’s just a light for others,” LSC President and CEO Ted Goins said to Ed and Kathy Ruse after the gift was made. “I was always amazed at your calm leadership in everything you did for us out of the Raleigh office. This is just the icing on the cake to set an example for others. You continue to lead in another way, and we can’t thank you enough for that.”

To learn more about making a planned gift to LSC, contact LSC Development Officer Rev. Tennyson Shifley at 704-651-8660 or

This is not an exhaustive review of this Planned Giving technique. Be sure to consult with your legal, tax, and financial advisors regarding this concept before implementing.