Money & Career
Philanthropy Made Easy
12/1/2019 1:00:00 PM
Philanthropy Made Easy

Remember the old adage "It’s better to give than to receive”? 

With proper planning, it’s possible to do both at the same time. Your financial goals may include giving to the causes that are most important to you. During this season of giving, we encourage you to expand your giving philosophy and realize that giving can benefit you as well as your beneficiaries. The following articles provide strategies and tips to show you how to make the world a better place with your time and resources. 



The Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana: Connecting People who Care with Causes that Matter

by Sara McLeod Judson


Over a century ago, Ellen Martha Goos Lock bought land on Ryan Street for a park to honor the memory of her husband, Captain Daniel Lock. After hiring architects Favrot and Livaudais and building a first-class park, she donated the greenspace to the City of Lake Charles in 1918. She also set aside money for its upkeep. After six generations of managing the funds to care for Lock Park, her family wanted to find another option to ensure it would last forever. They chose to endow a fund at the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana, an easy, effective and enduring way to continue the pledge Ellen made to the children of our region. On a sunny day, among the joyful squeals of kids, you might see a little girl named Eloise on swings and slides of Lock Park, made possible by the generosity of her ancestor, Ellen Lock.  

The Community Foundation is based in Lake Charles, but serves our five-parish region. It manages charitable accounts – a kind of investment account for doing good – for philanthropists.


People like Wayne Simmons. Affectionately called "the alligator man,” Wayne was a regular guy who grew up in our area. He loved to hunt, fish and hang out at Fred’s Lounge at Big Lake.  When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he decided he wanted to leave money in his will to causes that he had supported throughout the years. These contributions were often $100 or $200 a year to charities like the American Cancer Society, the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home in Monroe and the Salvation Army. Fortunately for Southwest Louisiana, Wayne’s financial advisor, Reed Mendelson, suggested that instead of leaving lump sums to these nonprofits, he create an endowment fund at the Community Foundation to support those nonprofits forever.  


Wayne Simmons passed away in 2014. He left more than $1 million to create the Wayne Simmons Memorial Endowment Fund, which makes annual contributions to the three nonprofits that he supported throughout his life. In the first five years of this endowment fund, these nonprofits have each received over $56,000. A man whose passion was hunting and fishing also had a passion for giving that is lasting well past his own lifetime.  


Another local family has recently established a fund at the Community Foundation to support what is important to them today: Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church. Karen and Ken Chamberlain created their fund earlier this year, and it will be funded after they have both lived full lives. Their fund agreement was designed by them with the help of the Community Foundation and will be funded in their estate plans. It will support their church, cover the cost of professional development for priests in the Diocese of Lake Charles and benefit children’s causes in our region. 


If you want to give to the causes you care about, the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana has charitable accounts to match your wishes. The Foundation manages the assets in the charitable funds and makes grants to nonprofits, whether it is giving to causes important to you now or designing them to give forever.


Sara McLeod Judson is the President and CEO of the Community Foundation of SWLA. For more information on the Community Foundation, visit their website www.foundationswla.org.




Charitable Giving: How Financial Advisors Encourage Philanthropy

by Stefanie Powers


Whatever your net worth, being in the position to give back and use some of your resources for the greater good can be empowering and create a rewarding experience. 


Financial advisors are becoming more influential in their clients’ decisions on philanthropy, according to a recent U.S. trust study. More than three-fourths (76 percent) of clients who discussed philanthropy with their advisors rated the advisor’s ability to discuss their personal values and charitable goals as "strong,” according to the U.S. Trust Study of the Philanthropic Conversation.

You hire financial advisors to manage your money and satisfy your financial goals. Giving money back to a charity helps you achieve some of those objectives while making an impact on society. In addition, charitable giving can reduce your tax liability. But you’ll need help to navigate these somewhat murky waters. Your financial adviser can put together a philanthropic strategy tailored to your individual needs.  


This is where the Donor Advised Fund (DAF) comes in. It works like a personal fund dedicated to your charitable giving. Instead of writing multiple checks to individual charities, you put everything into one simple Giving Fund. You can decide now or later on the charities you want your Giving Fund to support. While you decide, your contributions are invested with the potential to grow tax-free to make a bigger impact.


There are many benefits to investing through a donor advised fund (DAF), including:

Low cost to maintain – donate to the fund as often as you like and receive an immediate tax benefit.

Able to invest contributions – a DAF allows for liquid contributions only (stocks, bonds, etc.).

Full control over the fund – your DAF is like a charitable savings account—put money in today and grant it to charities when you’re ready.


The DAF is controlled by a nonprofit, called a sponsoring organization, which invests the assets and manages the donor’s account. Community foundations often serve as sponsoring organizations and so do nonprofit arms of financial-services firms, such as Vanguard Charitable and Schwab Charitable. 

There are now over 300,000 DAFs that are user-friendly, inexpensive and utilized by people like you and me. 


When deciding who will benefit from your philanthropy, ask yourself the following:

Is there anything you want to do to honor people, organizations or institutions that have been important to you?

Are there certain geographic areas that have been significant to you, your family or your business? 

What has made a big impact on your life? 

Are there any family members, colleagues or friends whom you admire that are very philanthropic? Would you be interested in supporting some of the causes that they support?

 Is leaving a legacy important to you, and if so, what type of legacy would you like to leave? 

In your estate-planning documents, have you named any charitable beneficiaries?


Once you determine who will receive your donations, your financial advisor will help you determine the appropriate donation amount and strategy given your income and donation goals. 




How to Teach Children to be Compassionate, Generous, and Community-Minded

by Natalie Silverstein


Much has been written about the "over-scheduled child.” In these hectic times, when families are pulled in many directions and attention is drawn to devices, parents yearn to keep kids connected, grounded, and grateful. Volunteering together is one way to achieve these goals while improving the lives of others in your community. The challenge is finding the time. It’s all about prioritizing: saying "yes” to service, which might mean saying "no” to something else. Doing so reminds your children of what’s really important and teaches them how to treat others.

 

Here are some tips for launching or reinvigorating a family kindness practice during the holidays and throughout the year:


It’s never too early or too late to start.  Everyone – from young children to teenagers –  can volunteer in developmentally appropriate ways. If you consistently and organically incorporate service into daily routines, giving back becomes a habit, woven into the fabric of your family life.


Let the school calendar, holidays, and seasons guide you.  At the end of each month, take a few moments to identify upcoming holidays and school breaks when you might volunteer together. During summer, host a lemonade stand for childhood cancer research, or fill backpacks with essential supplies for children in need. In the fall, identify a soup kitchen that needs your support at Thanksgiving. As the holiday season approaches, find an opportunity to make wishes come true through toy drives or "adopt-a-family” programs. The opportunities are endless. Find projects that resonate with your family and include them in your plans each year.


Incorporate service into things you are already doing.  If your child hosts a playdate, encourage a kindness activity like baking cookies or making cheerful cards to deliver to your local fire station or police precinct. When planning your child’s birthday party, ask them to select a charity they’d like to support with their celebration, and host a donation drive in lieu of gifts. 


Try easy "kitchen table kindness” activities. With crayons and construction paper, a child can write a letter or draw a picture for a soldier or a hospitalized child. Help kids create "no-sew” fleece blankets for seniors in a nursing home, or friendship bracelets for new students at school.


Practice random acts of kindness as you move through your day.  As you head to the market, offer to pick up groceries for a homebound neighbor. Bring a hot cup of coffee to the crossing guard on a cold day. Pick up trash as you walk around your neighborhood. Allow your kids to leave a few coins in the tip jar at the coffee shop. Your one small act might have a ripple effect and change another person’s whole day. Kids are always watching you and learning how to treat others. 

Family service allows you to live your values while spreading compassion and joy in a world that desperately needs both. Children feel pride in serving and reap the enormous benefits of flexing their empathy "muscles”.  There’s no magic formula – parents simply need to keep an open heart, an observant eye, and a positive intention. Every day, and in every busy schedule, there’s always time to do good.


Natalie Silverstein, MPH is a writer, consultant, speaker, and a passionate advocate for family and youth service.  Her book, Simple Acts: The Busy Family’s Guide to Giving Back 

(www.simpleactsguide.com) was published by Gryphon House in April, 2019.  She is the New York Coordinator of Doing Good TogetherTM, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping parents raise kids who care and contribute. 

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