TOPIC: Choosing a charity
(Originally published in the May 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal - "Planned Giving" special advertising feature)
Every year, people of all walks of life, from businesspeople to retirees, choose to make a difference through planned giving.
Planned giving is a way to leave a lasting mark on your favourite charitable or non-profit organization, helping it continue its vital work while ensuring your memory lives on.
It is a program of various financial instruments that can be adapted to your needs. For example, you may choose to do a charitable bequest in which you dispense a portion of your estate to an organization through your will. You can also name an organization as the beneficiary of your life insurance, RRSPs or RRIFs. You can even leave a gift in the form of real estate, such as land or a house. Other options include: Annuities, charitable remainder of trusts, residual interest, and cash or securities. It’s important to remember that significant tax savings can also be realized through planned giving.
With so many worthwhile charities out there to support, making a choice can be a daunting task. Here are five points to ponder to help you make your decision:
1) What's important to you? Do you care about the environment? Want to help children? Support the arts? Make a list of the areas that interest you and start planning.
2) Who do you want to help? Do you want to lend a hand to people in your own community or on the other side of the world? Do you want your gift to make a difference locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally?
3) What kind of work should the organization do? Do you want your donation to go towards research that will lead to new knowledge, direct service that will have an impact now, or advocacy work that may lead to changes in the way that things happen presently or in the future? Some organizations engage in all of these activities, but most have a particular emphasis on either research, service or advocacy. Consider which of these activities is most important to you.
4) Should you pick a big or small organization? If you give your gift to a large organization, it can be part of a bigger whole. You may not be able to fund a cure for cancer on your own, but your gift can help support a larger project that, along with other donors, makes a big impact. If you give to a smaller organization, your single gift may have a larger impact on the charity. Yours could be the donation that helps keep an important program running or allows a new pilot project to start.
5) How do I know if a charity is legitimate? All registered charities in Canada are overseen by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) with each assigned a business number. CRA offers a searchable list of these charities at: www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html
Source: Charity Village (www.charityvillage.com)
Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (www.mollyappeal.ca)
Donor: Olwen Dorothy Farrell
It is a gift that will never stop giving from a generous benefactor who had an abiding interest in medical research.
Olwen Dorothy Farrell from Berwick named Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) the sole beneficiary of her estate. DMRF executive director Alison C. Edwards calls the $7 million bequest “transformational”.
“More than a gift, this is a true investment in the future quality of life of our communities,” says Edwards. “After being set up as an endowment fund at DMRF, the Farrell bequest will not only provide annual research funding of over $300,000 but will also assist in leveraging matching funds, thereby doubling and tripling its impact.”
Within Olwen Farrell’s family there were a number of medical connections. Her great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were doctors, and her mother, Nancy (Davies), was a nurse. When Olwen was a child, her mother fell ill and she was raised by her aunt Dorothy and her father, Cyril.
“She loved Berwick. She loved the farm here –– this was her home,” says executor Robert Stewart QC of the law firm Stewart & Turner.
The last member of her immediate family, Olwen passed away at home in 2009 at the age of 88.
Today, she is shaping the future of medical research.
MS Society of Canada (http://mssociety.ca)
Donor: Lou Maroun
Lou Maroun dreams of the day when a cure is found for multiple sclerosis. To that end, he is raising awareness of the work of the MS Society of Canada. His desire is to help Canadians understand the importance of financially supporting the MS Society –– now and in the future.
Lou understands the needs of people affected by MS. He grew up in Cape Breton and became a volunteer with the Atlantic Division Board of the MS Society before moving to Toronto and joining the national board. Through his involvement, he has seen firsthand how the MS Society provides support to thousands of people coast-to-coast, while searching for a cure for MS.
“I started by donating a life insurance policy to the MS Society. I’m fortunate enough to qualify for this type of gift as I know that many of our members are challenged to qualify for life insurance,” says Lou Maroun, executive chairman of Sigma Real Estate Advisors. “I’m also currently working on a bequest in my will. This is a great way to give because it is so universal –– anyone at any income or ability level can do it.”
In addition to donating a life insurance policy to the MS Society, Lou has contributed to the endMS campaign, a campaign to recruit, train, and retain MS researchers in Canada to find a cure and improved treatments for MS.
Lou believes that a future free from MS is in sight.
“Since almost all of the society’s revenue is raised through donations, it is important that individual donors continue to support the MS Society, today and tomorrow.”