Although I didn’t know what “philanthropy” meant as a young girl, I knew that my parents always contributed to our community. They were excellent role models to my brothers and me in giving back, and I cannot recall a time in my life when my parents weren’t making a difference. When my father died in 1999, it was Daddy’s desire that a financial commitment he’d made to our church be honored, and Mom made sure to honor his wishes.
Why National Philanthropy Day is important
At different stages in my life, I have learned by example to use my time, talents and treasures in philanthropic endeavors, and I hope this is part of the legacy I pass on to my daughters and their families. This Nov. 15, as we celebrate National Philanthropy Day and recognize the positive impact of charitable work in our communities, it’s a good occasion to think about the many ways in which we can be generous.
Often, when asked about how I’m doing, I find myself saying how busy I am. It seems that most of us get caught up in life’s busyness, and God has only given us 24 hours each day. It is up to each of us to decide how we use those 24 hours. Using our time and labor in community service is where many begin their journey in volunteerism and philanthropy. Rolling up our shirtsleeves and giving our time for our church or synagogue, Girl Scouts, parent-teacher associations or local nonprofits is something we can all do if we budget our time effectively and find an area in our community that we’d like to serve.
I believe we get truly invested in making a difference when we take philanthropy one step further and use our skill sets or learn something new to serve our communities. For many years, I was involved in a women’s organization, the Junior League, whose mission was committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.
During my 30s and 40s, I spent much of my time committed to this organization. In doing so, I learned so much about my community and issues that affect women and children around the world. The Junior League trains women to be effective community leaders, but a byproduct of that work is that it improves those women’s communities.
I recently ran into three of my Junior League colleagues who proudly shared they were using the skills developed in the League (their talents) to work with a nonprofit that serves as a resource center for families affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. It was a very proud moment when I hugged them and congratulated them on using their talents to serve others.
Lastly, being able to provide financial support to an organization you’ve volunteered with or one that has a mission that touches your heart is always much needed and appreciated. It’s my privilege to work with individuals and families who desire to leave a legacy through financially providing for an organization. For many, their financial plan includes:
• Making charitable gifts through required IRA distributions
• Funding donor-advised funds and/or foundations
• Creating charitable lead trusts/charitable remainder trusts
• Thoughtfully planning the timing of donations
Generous giving improves the life of both the giver and the receiver. According to a GivingUSA.org report, Americans gave $484.85 billion in 2021, which was a 4% increase over 2020. It’s amazing that amid the tailwinds of a global pandemic and a struggling economy, the giving of our treasures has increased in the last year. Part of what I enjoy about my work at Argent is interacting with families as they plan their legacy gifting.
In conclusion, I’ve read plenty of data suggesting that it is the giver and receiver of gifts that are so richly blessed. I want to offer that being a child of parents who instilled volunteerism in their children with their time, talents and treasures is one of the greatest gifts. My memories of my parents serving, leading and giving to organizations make me want to do more, serve more and give more. My challenge to you for National Philanthropy Day is to think about your legacy and the story you want to tell through your volunteerism.
If you’d like to discuss how you can be more philanthropic with your assets, please contact our advisors here at Argent — we’re glad to discuss how we can help.