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Anyone Can Be a Philanthropist

A Way to Live Forever

On May 15, I signed a piece of paper – one with lasting personal meaning as well as lasting community impact. I signed a piece of paper that explains my charitable wishes for my money after my lifetime.

There aren’t a lot of people who want to talk about what happens after they are gone. Some think it is morbid. Some people are afraid that if they make final plans they will die right then! But I am going to let you in on a secret – I am good with it.  In fact, it is one of the easiest conversations for me to have with someone who is charitably inclined.

In this type of conversation I pose a question: “What will happen to the charities and causes you care about most after you are gone?”  Sometimes people feel they have done enough, but in many cases people think about making a gift through their estate plans that will leave a mark forever. They want a legacy gift.

Legacy planning isn’t necessarily done toward the end of a lifetime –I am 52 years old, have a 15-year-old daughter and I feel like one of the luckiest people in Louisville. I have a job that I love with a great team of people I get to work with every day.  My daughter is doing well in high school and seems to be at peace with herself and her place in the world. And I have just completed my legacy plans.

Of course, I actively give to charity now. I believe in the call to “give while you live.” I am proud to serve as a model for giving in my workplace by donating to Metro United Way and the Fund for the Arts. Over the last four years our employee giving has risen by 444% and 1,085% respectively, and all of our board members now have a giving plan in place through the Foundation.  Additionally, each pay period I put money into a Charitable Checking Fund so I can distribute charitable dollars to other organizations I care about. It is a great way for me (and Moira) to stay organized about our giving on a year to year basis.

When I was working on my will and other estate documents, I considered my earlier question, but this time asking myself:  “What will happen to the causes I care about most after I’m gone?” At first, this question was challenging. Which charities do I support, and do I give them all equal amounts? Should Moira be involved? But then I realized I simply wanted to say “thank you” to a community that has been good and kind to me, one that I have grown to know and love in the last 4 ½ years.

In addition to “give while you live,” l believe you should “give where you live,” so I set up plans to leave a legacy gift to the Fund for Louisville. This fund is stewarded at the Community Foundation, and it exists to make Louisville a better place. Period. It’s the best way to say “I love you” to Louisville. What’s Louisville going to need in 50 years? 100 years? Who knows? But the Fund for Louisville will be there, and my name will be part of it.

I think I found a way to live forever.