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Five Ways to Ensure Your Legacy through Philanthropy

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Editor’s note: Quorum is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this article and derives no benefit from these businesses for placement in this article.

Whether you earned your financial success by building your own business from the ground up, reaching the top rungs of the corporate ladder or your profession, or just being a very wise saver and investor, your growing net worth probably has you thinking about your legacy. Do you want to make sure you’re going to leave a lasting mark not just on your family’s financial fortunes but on others?

These philanthropic ideas can elevate your charitable giving to a truly unforgettable level.

Create a Scholarship Fund

If you want to ensure that a new generation has access to quality education, then consider setting up a scholarship fund in your family’s name. You can design it around what’s most important to you:

  • The institution: The scholarship can fund a primary or secondary education at a particular private school or a bachelor- or graduate-level degree at a certain college or university, such as your alma mater. Or it can be awarded to someone who attends a particular high school, public or private, to use toward the college or university of their choice.
  • The recipient: You decide the eligibility requirements for your scholarship, which can be need-, merit- or, even, program-based. For example, if you’re a physician, you may want to create a scholarship specifically for pre-med students. Or if you own a small business, the scholarship could be offered exclusively to your employees and their family members.
  • The amount: You say how much your scholarship is worth and whether it funds all or part of the recipients’ education.
  • The duration: Your scholarship can be a one-time event or an annual fund that accepts additional applications each year.

You’ll want to involve your attorney and accountant before you set up your scholarship, which when done correctly, qualifies as a tax deduction. Then, you can reach out to the school development office for structural and administrative help. If your scholarship is going to be institution agnostic, then a community foundation can provide that assistance. 

Financially Support a Youth Organization

On the flipside, you could lend your financial means to help start, maintain or reinvigorate an extracurricular activity for young people. Examples include the following:

  • Donating the dues for every member of a high school or college club sport
  • Footing the bill for a local athletic organization’s season by paying for its equipment, facility rental, coaches and referees
  • Providing the operating budget for a youth theater, fine arts club or other creative outlet
  • Offering non-academic scholarships for your favorite summer camp or study-abroad program
  • Sponsoring area teenagers who want to participate in mission trips

Fund an Organization’s Expansion

Maybe you’d like your legacy to go toward something more physically concrete. If so, you can fund all or part of the money needed to add on to an organization’s existing facilities or build a new one. Here are some options to consider:

  • A new wing of an area hospital, perhaps one dedicated to the treatment of cancer or some other disease that has taken a loved one
  • The first-ever building dedicated solely to athletics, performing arts or other specialty program at your alma mater
  • The renovation of a struggling local theater, library or museum to ensure its survival
  • An addition to your church, synagogue, mosque or temple to provide more worship space

Start Your Own Charity or Foundation

Another option is to start your own charity or private foundation. Both can be set up as tax-exempt organizations that support specific causes, but they operate a little differently.

With a charity, you fundraise for its specified cause, such as breast cancer, and use the donations to support that. Depending on the stated mission of your charity, this could be direct assistance, such as helping breast cancer patients afford their treatments or manage their lives while battling the disease. Or your charity’s objective could be to donate its proceeds to research or larger related charities.

In the case of a private foundation, you, your family or your privately held business funds the organization and invests that money to support your cause of choice now and long into the future.

In either case, you choose your charity or foundation’s name, decide on its mission, determine its structure and select how the proceeds will be used. Rely on your attorney and accountant to help you get started.

Earmark Part of Your Estate

Finally, an easy but still consequential way to ensure your legacy is to let a charity, organization or institution know that you plan to designate a portion of your estate to it. By proactively making this announcement, you can ask for a hand in determining exactly how your donation will be used.

However you decide to bolster your legacy, call a family meeting that includes your kids and grandkids to explain what you’re doing with your money and why. This will help ensure that both your money and your values outlast you in making a difference in the world.

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CUNA 2023 diamond award trophy icon

CUNA 2023 Diamond Award Winner

Financial Education

Quorum derives no benefit from businesses in return for placement in this blog.

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