Seattle Foundation Blog

Linking Lifetime and Legacy Giving

Susan Peterson, Seattle Foundation’s Director of Gift Planning, writes on the trend of giving now rather than endowing in the March 10 special Estate Planning issue of Puget Sound Business Journal.


March 16, 2017

"Give now, don’t endow.”

This catchphrase captures a growing trend in philanthropy that has charitably-inclined people focused on seeing their money make a significant impact while they are alive, rather than leaving behind a private foundation or creating an endowment that won’t begin to create change until after they are gone. Susan Peterson, Seattle Foundation’s Director of Gift Planning, wrote a feature article on this trend in the March 10 special Estate Planning issue of Puget Sound Business Journal.

Peterson writes that “giving while living” is a phrase that Chuck Feeney, founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group, uses when he talks about what he calls “limited-life philanthropy.” Feeney makes “big bets” with the notion that if you act sooner and act in a big way, you can have an accelerated impact. “There will always be more wealth that’s going to be devoted to philanthropy in the future, so why wait?” he says. “Put your money to good use now.” And better yet, Peterson writes, create an estate plan that links your lifetime giving and your legacy giving in ways that benefit your family and the causes you care about most.

Peterson explains that today’s philanthropists want to apply the same acumen and business skills that they used to earn their wealth to the work of distributing their wealth. At Seattle Foundation, we often hear that donors also want to personally engage in philanthropy with spouses, children and grandchildren as a means to strengthen family ties, pass on the family’s key values and build a tradition of giving.

One strategy that links lifetime giving, family involvement and potential tax benefits is a Community Philanthropy Fund at Seattle Foundation. Donors contribute cash or appreciated assets to the fund, receive an immediate tax benefit and then recommend grants from the fund over time. This allows you to support the causes you care about through lifetime giving and continue your philanthropic legacy after death, leaving the reminder of the fund to your favorite organizations as either a one-time gift or an endowment. Alternatively, you can extend your philanthropy through children or grandchildren by naming them successor advisors on your donor advised fund. The fund can be as prescriptive or unrestricted as you desire, but it is critical that your intentions are fully documented.

Read more (PSBJ subscription required) or contact Susan Peterson at s.peterson@seattlefoundation.org to discuss linking lifetime and legacy giving and learn strategies to determine how much to leave to children and charities in your will.

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