It’s that time of year when we start to think deeply about giving – how to give, who to give to, and how to make a real difference in the act of giving. And with the tax credits for charitable donations in Canada deadline of December 31st, it makes sense that charitable giving is on our minds this month.
2020 has been a year fraught with difficulties for so many, and the need in our communities is deep. We want to make a difference in the lives of others, and we know support is needed.
But what kind of support? How do you help others, and at the same time ensure your family is taken care of, and that you are using your money and assets in the best way possible?
Choosing A Charity – Begin With The Right Question
Questions are powerful tools to help you gain clarity and articulate what you are thinking. By using your imagination and starting with the question “who and what has made a difference in my life?” you can begin to understand which charity to choose, and why.
For myself, growing up poor and never having had the opportunity to experience any sort of live theater, I had a life changing experience one summer when I was taken on a camping trip to Prince Edward Island by two of my high school teachers. My job was to ‘babysit’ their two dogs and one cat, and I also helped pay my way by working in the snack bar making hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries for the campers.
On that trip they took me to see Anne of Green Gables at the Confederation Center for the Arts and I was in awe. The experience stimulated my imagination and helped me survive and thrive through my challenging teenage years – I had been given a glimpse into another world and I was determined I would be a part of it someday.
As a result of this experience I’ve set up a $50,000 charitable giving life insurance policy for the Thousand Islands Foundation for the Performing Arts with the explicit intention to provide similar opportunities to young people whose families don’t have the financial resources to experience live theater, just like my own family.
Other clients of ours have, through answering this question, identified organizations such as the Ronald MacDonald House – where a family received the support they needed when their infant son was receiving surgery for a hole in his heart, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation – for the family who needed additional support as they made their way through the gruelling cancer treatment process with their beloved Mother, or Mental Health Services for Young People — for the family whose son died because of the absence of these services in their community, just to name a few.
Connect With Your Living Legacy
If we start with our imagination, intuition and our values, we can look at our charitable giving and philanthropy becoming a part of the world we want to create, a world we can be proud of.
As my friend Codi Shewan states in his terrific book Everyday Legacy “In each moment you have the ability to change yourself and those around you, in profound ways”. Choosing a charity can involve Imagining the possibilities for your life, and living them day to day, not in some distant future that you aren’t a part of.
A living legacy is a way to connect our values with our lives and how we live them today, and then forming a plan to take those values into tomorrow and beyond our lifetime.
Find A Financial Planner Who Aligns With Your Values
The person you hire to support you is a direct reflection of your values. But our values are not always our primary focus when we first begin to think about financial planning and choosing a financial advisor.
A recent report by the Canadian Association of Gift Planners clearly points out that before people can integrate legacy planning into their lives they want to be sure they and their families will be okay. Security is important, but more is possible with your money, assets and wealth than you realize.
Your financial advisor should be able to have meaningful conversations about planned giving with you, and advise you on incorporating philanthropy into your financial planning process. Unfortunately we know from the research that the majority of financial planners just aren’t doing that, or aren’t informed enough about options when it comes to planned giving.
Donors want to have these conversations, and often would prefer to speak to their advisor over going straight to a non profit, but traditional financial advisors can create unnecessary confusion, and what is worse, there are many lost opportunities to make a significant difference in the world through philanthropic donations.
Understand Your Options
Many people make an annual gift to their charity of choice, and a financial advisor who can guide you to understand the options for giving can make a huge difference.
For example, would it be better to donate a gift of $1000 cash, or $1000 in securities or mutual funds to your intended recipient? I answer that question here in a short video with Al Roberts from the Almonte General Hospital Foundation (hint – there are incredible tax savings to be had when you donate the securities directly to the charity!).
Questions like this can be brought to your financial planner who should be able to guide you towards the right fit for your situation.
If you’re not getting the right answers from your advisor it might be time to look for someone who has the experience and education to provide you with a strategic giving plan that takes into consideration different giving vehicles – and one who understands your motivations for giving.
Where do we go from here?
According to the Giving Report 2020, the number of Canadians who give to charities is decreasing overall, however some causes such as indigenous charities are growing faster than others.
The Canadian donation landscape is changing – Canadians choosing a charity to support are looking for ways to make their charitable giving and philanthropy personal – whether that’s with technology and online donations or giving to a diverse range of causes.
Charitable giving during covid is increasingly challenging and necessary, but the holiday season is a time for giving and making wishes come true.
So I’d like to ask you – if you could wave a magic wand and make 3 wishes come true for a world you could be proud of – what 3 wishes would YOU make?
Your answers can guide you towards a vision that creates possibilities, opens up the future, and provides security and hope for yourself and your community.
During this pandemic charities need us more than ever. I invite you to take a journey of exploration with the right financial advisor who can help you to make your legacy dreams a reality, and align your charitable giving with the kind of future you want to create.
My wish for you is that you will make confident, meaningful decisions with your money, and maybe even change the world doing it.
Have a question about charitable giving? Ask me in the comments!