Why you should make a charitable giving plan

Give 50% of your annual donation to those who didn’t ask for it

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From the January 2016 issue of the magazine.

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One way to feel richer is to use your good fortune to help others. But philanthropy has greater meaning when it’s well planned, so now’s the time to make sure you’re giving more effectively in 2016. “People need a way of structuring their passions,” says Malcolm Burrows, head of philanthropic advisory services at Scotia Private Client Group. He suggests drawing up a short vision statement outlining what you’d like to accomplish, and establishing a target for how much you want to give. Your goal can be as simple as helping people within your community or as epic as the statement Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan released when they announced they would commit $45 billion to causes that focus on “personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.”

Few of us deal with figures that big, but Burrows’s suggests starting by giving 50% of your annual donation “to charities nobody asked you to give to.” There are groups in your community that never advertise—women’s shelters, local churches and school groups—and it feels good to find causes that reflect your personal experience. “Philanthropy is an interactive process between the donor, the community and the charity,” says Burrows. For help finding lesser-known groups, charityfocus.ca provides descriptions of every charity in Canada along with key revenue and spending figures. “And of course, moneysense.ca for the Charity 100 list,” says Burrows. “That’s a great help, too.”


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