What’s in Store for Philanthropy in 2012?

What’s in Store for Philanthropy in 2012?

Times they are a changing,” Bob Dylan.

This past year it seems that we have discovered philanthropy.  We always knew that people gave to causes they cared about.  We always knew that we could help others by donating our time and skills.  We always knew that there were organizations focused on charitable works.  But it seemed that the charitable sector was always the quiet one.

This past year, charitable giving has attracted much more attention.  I have seen articles covering a broad range of topics including: the future of volunteerism in Canada, the need to legislate salaries for executives in the not for profit world and, how to protect yourself from solicitations by unscrupulous charities.  As a measure of increased interest in the sector, The Globe and Mail published an excellent series of articles in October about the evolution of philanthropy.  The Globe now runs a regular column written by Craig and Marc Keilburger.

Where in times past we decided on which charities to give to based on our own experiences, we now trust organizations like Charity Intelligence Canada and GuideStar (US) to tell us which charities that ask us for donations are the most effective.

So why are times in the charitable sector changing?  I will put two reasons forward.  The first, I suggest, is that the need for the work of the charitable sector is more visible that it ever was before.  The effects of the economic troubles together with the reporting of the many natural disasters that have overtaken us in the past several years have put the need for charity vividly before us.

The second is that we now realize how big the charitable sector in Canada is.  Charity has become big business and continues to grow.  The upside to the growth is that there are more funds available for the sector to work with.  The downside to the growth is that the sector attracts more people preying on our good intentions.

So what is to become of the charitable sector?  For those of us who work in charities, we know that we need to be more efficient and more effective as we look to what we do.  Our donors expect us to be duly diligent.

However, I also see that we are still being driven by our sense of responsibility to contribute to the wellbeing of those around us.  Charities will continue to be the solid third pillar in our society.

So with deference to Bob Dylan, my final thought is this.  While times today continue to change, the core philanthropic values that have motivated us in the past remain in place.  We will continue to support the many good works the sector does.

Best wishes for 2012!

Sincerely,
Glenn

Glenn Stresman

Glenn Stresman is the Executive Director of the WindsorEssex Community Foundation and has over 20 years experience in both writing and evaluating grant applications.

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The Right Tool for the Job

In 1917, Julius Rosenwald, president of the Sears Roebuck Company, used $70 million of his personal wealth to form the Rosenwald Fund. Rosenwald chose not to endow this fund, but rather decided that all of the $70 million was to be used for charitable purposes so that by the year 1947, the Fund would be gone. Rosenwald explained that he wanted to avoid “the tendency to bureaucracy” and other shortcomings that he saw coming with permanent endowment funds.

Some people today agree with Mr. Rosenwald and donate substantial amounts of money to establish funds that are to be used up in a set period of time. This year’s Federal Budget changed rules governing foundations to make these types of gifts easier for foundations and charities to set up and manage. Perhaps this is why we see more articles recently in the media advocating for self-depleting funds like the Rosenwald Fund.

But not everyone agrees with Mr. Rosenwald’s theory that permanent endowment funds automatically bring bloated bureaucracy whose sole purpose is “to prolong their existence indefinitely.”  As proof of the vibrancy of the custodians of permanently endowed funds, we can turn to foundations such as the Winnipeg Foundation, celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and continuing to support the Winnipeg community vigorously and with great positive effect.

So, should you endow your philanthropic gift in perpetuity as many Canadians have done? Examples of these permanent endowments would be: the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, the Metcalf Foundation, and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation.  Or should you set up a self-depleting fund as Mr. Rosenwald did?

My advice is this. Since you have the option of using either means to achieve your philanthropic goals, I suggest that you use the one that will work best. Is there a specific problem that you want solved? If so, then set up a fund that will be finished when the task is completed. If your cause is one that will continue in perpetuity, then set up the fund to match. You even have the option of using both types of funds if you have the financial resources to do so.

Great Place to Leave A Legacy logoI have one more suggestion for you. Since community foundations have the expertise in establishing the types of funds that will best achieve your philanthropic goals and since they have the widest range of options to offer each donor, why not use them as the stewards of your funds? Remember, community foundations are great places to leave your philanthropic legacy.

Sincerely,
Glenn

Glenn StresmanGlenn Stresman is the Executive Director of the WindsorEssex Community Foundation and has over 20 years experience in both writing and evaluating grant applications.

The Community Foundation – A Great Place to Leave A Legacy!

WECF Communications Coordinator, Mike Morency, came across the tag line, “A Great Place to Leave A Legacy” while doing some research in preparing our annual “Leave A Legacy” ad. The slogan is now part of our ad.Great Place to Leave A Legacy logo

I was taken by the phrase when I first saw it a couple of weeks ago and it continues to resonate with me; a mark of its effectiveness. I am excited to use it because it is a great reminder that we need to plan well when we draft our Last Will and Testament.

Your final instructions in your Will are exactly that – final. So, we need to take into account as many of the variables as we possibly can when we make those final instructions. Here’s an example. You are passionate about helping cure a specific disease, so you establish an endowment fund for treatment for those afflicted by the disease and research to find a cure. What if the disease is cured? Impossible, you say? How about tuberculosis and all of the TB sanitoriums that used to be around — all gone because of better treatment options. I’m a Rotarian and our vision is to eradicate polio – we are so close. If it happens, what to do with endowment funds established strictly for the eradication of polio?Rotary "end polio" logo

How then can your final instructions establish a legacy that will be flexible enough to handle an ever changing world? Establishing a donor advised fund at a community foundation will do that. As the world changes, the fund advisor you appointed in your Will continues the conversation with the Community Foundation, ensuring that your legacy fund’s annual grants really do make a difference in the WindsorEssex community of the future. That is why the WindsorEssex Community Foundation is a great place to leave a legacy.

Sincerely

Glenn

Glenn Stresman

Glenn Stresman is the Executive Director of the WindsorEssex Community Foundation and has over 20 years experience in both writing and evaluating grant applications.