Creating a Meaningful Legacy No Longer Requires Great Wealth

American philanthropy has multiplied 6 ½ times since the 1950’s. As our giving grows, the ways to create a philanthropic legacy have extended beyond naming a building or establishing a large endowment. While 91% of high net worth families give to charity, 59% of families with moderate incomes also give, and creating a meaningful legacy no longer requires great wealth. Today, having an enduring, positive effect on a cherished cause or organization can be achieved through service, leadership and donations during life—as well as through gifts from your estate.

Creating a meaningful legacy relies on the combination of clear intent on the part of the donor, thoughtful communication regarding the current and longer term needs of the benefitting organization and an assessment of financial capacity—at present, in the years to come and after death. Addressing each of these will benefit from collaboration with a skilled philanthropic advisor, to thoughtfully engage with your existing estate and financial advisors and the benefiting nonprofits, to arrive at the most effective strategy. Bringing the next generation into these conversations results in deeper family ties, more purposeful philanthropy and can extend the family legacy through generations.

This longer view often results in a combination of aligned gifts. For instance, a one-time gift for a particular program or initiative, with annual support to sustain that gift and finally a bequest that will allow the organization to take your generosity to the next level. Taken together, this is a powerful legacy.

There are many estate planning strategies that do not require complicated and expensive financial instruments. For example, simply designating a non-profit as the beneficiary of all, or a percentage, of your IRA will support your philanthropy, reduce the taxes on your estate and does not require added legal advice. The same is true for other retirement plans, insurance policies and annuities.

Want to learn more about Legacy Giving? Click through to our Q&A with Joy Selak, CAP® Legacy Giving Q&A

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