Family can be a source of nurture, inspiration and companionship. Family can also be the source of our deepest worries and concerns. After ensuring your financial house is in order, it may be time for you to answer the question, “If you could make the world better in one significant way, what would it be?”
With great wealth, comes great opportunity. Americans donated an estimated $358.38 billion to charity in 2014.1 As your assets grow, so does your ability to create change for the people, institutions and causes that are near and dear to your heart. Studies completed by the Women Philanthropy Institute found that the wealthiest American women over age 50 are more likely to give 3% or more of their income to charity than their male peers – those same women give 156% more to charity than affluent men.2
Some questions you may want to consider when setting a philanthropic strategy within your estate plan include:
- How will I decide on my giving goals and approach?
- How will I choose which organizations to support or which social impact businesses to invest in?
- How will philanthropic dollars be invested and how much will be dispersed?
- Who will be involved in the decision-making?
- How will I make sure this legacy lives on even after I’m gone?
A good starting point to consider will be on focusing your ambitions. More often than not you may find yourself with too many great ideas; start off by figuring out “What do I want to accomplish?” To help you reach a decision, sort your objectives into four categories:
- Core: The area or areas where your primary passions lie
- Discretionary: The causes you support at the behest of others
- Emergency: Temporary, reactive causes (i.e., disaster relief)
- Other causes outside your core interests
Once you’ve set your goals, develop your philanthropic mission statement and put it on paper. Having a clear and concise message will set guidelines and boundaries for family members and friends who want to get involved.
Take action and track your progress by identifying your patterns of giving. Only then will you be able to gauge how well your current actions are aligned with your stated goals and mission.
To help increase your effectiveness throughout your giving journey there are several tools you may want to incorporate into your comprehensive wealth plan:
- Charitable Remainder Trusts: Allow you to provide for both a noncharitable recipient (such as yourself) and a valued cause.
- Charitable Lead Trusts: Beneficiaries are paid only after income is granted to a specified cause or organization.
- Private Foundations: A trust or nonprofit corporation usually funded by a small group of individuals.
Whether you have a well-formed vision of the change you would like to effect or you are just beginning to explore your philanthropic ambitions remember, as Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Learn more at Morgan Stanley Giving .
1 The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2014, Giving USA, 2015
2Women Take an Activist Path to Philanthropy, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 2013
If you’d like to learn more, please contact Julia A. Peloso-Barnes.
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Article by Wealth Management Systems Inc. and provided courtesy of Julia A. Peloso-Barnes, a Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor.
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