What’s your philanthropic plan?

Six steps that can help you create one
October 20, 2016
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By Silvia Ugolini

Traditionally, philanthropy was often seen as a practice reserved for the wealthy.

That model applies less to so many of today’s donors. Governments, like Canada’s, are increasingly tax-friendly to donors. This support has helped make philanthropy achievable — even beneficial — to a much wider audience than before. And today’s donors, from modest contributors to the Warren Buffetts, are looking to see the outcomes of their giving in their lifetime.  

This has led many to consider their philanthropic plan. Much like a financial plan, a philanthropic plan can help you maximize your giving, make a greater impact on causes that are important to you and enjoy the satisfaction of witnessing your philanthropy in action.  

The Briscoe Family A shared experience: Raye Briscoe and husband Robert Briscoe, BSc 67, MBA 73, have made giving back a family value. They are seen here with their children and grandchildren during a 2015 celebration of their support for the John Molson School of Business.

To begin a philanthropic plan, here are six steps I encourage people to reflect upon:

1. Research organizations you may give to.

Once you choose a cause to support, examine the many worthy organizations working to advance that particular cause, locally, nationally or internationally. Canada has 86,000 registered charities. While this might seem overwhelming, looking into the good work carried out by our country’s impressive charities can be a meaningful — even an inspiring — exercise. Ensure that you are dealing with a recognized registered charity. Find its registration number.

2.    Determine how your values are/can be expressed in your giving.

Create a list of charities you like or would like to support. What causes have you supported in the past that have given you the most satisfaction?

3.    Decide how much you wish to give annually.

Many people make donations when asked and are therefore not entirely aware of what it all adds up to.

4.    Ask yourself what kind of a society you would like to see?

It’s a big question. In my experience, the answer is often connected to an individual’s unique life story. What did you do in life? What did your parents do? What were the challenges you faced/overcame? Ultimately, answering this question will help define what you want your legacy to be.

5.    Once giving goals are set, choose the most effective vehicle in order to achieve them.

This is where planned giving expertise can be most relevant. Based on your stage in life, career or the nature of your assets, different vehicles and strategies may apply best — such as gifting securities versus cash. This will allow you to maximize your gift.

6.    If possible, involve family.

Philanthropy is often a shared experience. An alumnus who recently gave to Concordia recalled taking night courses as a mature student with a young family at home. He noted his partner’s and his children’s sacrifices for him to earn his degree and later his career success. During his official gift announcement at Concordia, it was clear that his children and grandchildren, who were present, took great pride in the gift too.

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