What Seeds Will You Plant?
October 18, 2016
Many of our clients are deeply committed to philanthropy. They take to heart a statement by Robert Louis Stevenson, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Here are a few things we’ve learned in working with them over the years.
Philanthropic giving is inherently personal: It is rooted in your values and in how you choose to fulfill your sense of responsibility to your family, the community, and the world. As financial advisors, we wouldn’t presume to tell clients how much to give, or what causes to fund. Our role is to help them understand their choices, quantify the likely financial results, and help them design and manage the strategy they choose.
So when asked about philanthropy, we generally suggest that clients start by defining their philanthropic mission, if they haven’t done so already. Thinking about the elements in the Display above may help.
•Your Passions: What social, educational, faith-based, or health-related issues or organizations do you care about deeply?
•Your Target Communities: Do you want to help your local community, your own or another country, or the world?
•Your Catalysts: Do you react generously to other appeals, seek to form a unique relationship with an organization, or prefer to respond to crises.
Designing a philanthropic mission also involves personal choices about how you want to achieve your mission and whether you prefer to give publicly or anonymously. You may find it easier to answer these questions if you reflect on how you have given in the past and how you felt about it. Did it have the impact you wanted?
Other important considerations, including how you want to involve your family, how much time you have to give, and how you can best make an impact, are discussed in Bernstein’s recently published guide, The Seeds You Plant: Growing Your Philanthropic Impact.
Our next two posts will address understanding your capacity to give and implementing your philanthropic mission.