In the Community
Philanthropic Soul-SearchingFebruary 23, 2011
Revising my Will recently has caused me to review once again the things that are important. What kind of legacy do I wish to leave? Who is depending on me now—from family members and friends to organizations? From a charitable perspective, what “causes” have great value, but funding is for them is difficult to find? Those donors who come to the Community Foundation to possibly set up a fund are generally either going through this same philanthropic soul-searching, or have done so recently and have determined with specificity what they want to support.
I have, during the course of my career, helped a number of individuals and families to make some of these difficult philanthropic decisions. I remember one person who had recently lost a family member for whom swimming was a great passion. All he could think of to do in memory of this person was to set up a scholarship fund for someone who wanted to be in competitive swimming in college. By the end of our conversation, he had instead set up a fund which supported a local summer swimming program for at-risk youth. He was so excited! The fund was going to help many more than one student a year, and had the potential to give motivation to kids who often found it to be in short supply.
While scholarships funds are indeed wonderful, there are also many other kinds of funds which can help in a myriad of different ways. Another family was worried about a particular nonprofit organization that they gave a $1,000 gift to almost every year. They knew that the organization depended on that gift, but they also felt that the organization would not handle a larger gift well by investing it and leveraging its use over time. They set up a $25,000 endowment fund to support the organization, with instruction to the Foundation that an annual gift of available spendable be sent to the nonprofit. Generally that gift was $1,000 or more—and this gift would continue long after the family was no longer around.
One retiring Chairman of an organization set up a “Leadership Endowment” to provide for board and staff training—a budget item often deleted in difficult financial times. It would not be deleted if the money came annually from the Foundation with the caveat that it be used only for this purpose!
So, have you done your “philanthropic soul-searching?” What has been your passion throughout your life? What problem needs a solution? What cause needs help? How creative can you be in establishing your legacy? Know that when you are ready, so is the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. We are able to assist with brainstorming, research, or just capturing on paper your charitable desires. And don’t wait too long to consider these things. Every day matters.
Denise K. Spencer