In the shadow of Labor Day it seems odd to be considering the idea of working less but on the last days of summer I was reflecting on a recent trip that required me to haul a small but over-packed suitcase and an equally burdensome backpack through a maze of planes, trains and metro systems. I was holding my own for most of the journey until my travels took me to a metro station that required navigating a very steep set of seven floors of stairs. At each landing I considered off loading some of my belongings and tried to think of innovative ways to make the trek more enjoyable. Other day travelers seemed to be amused at my dilemma but due to a language barrier I was mainly greeted with sympathetic smiles and laughter.
Imagine my surprise when I reached the top of the climb completely out of breath and was greeted by a slew of people piling out of an elevator! No wonder so many people were laughing at me. We all made it to the top but I had worked very hard to get there. Finding out that there was an elevator was a relief and I used it throughout my stay even with no luggage in tow.
I didn’t need to work harder to get up and down the steps- just smarter. I also made it my personal mission to point unknowing travels towards the elevators every chance I got. I wanted them to enjoy the journey without the all the work.
Recently I have been having conversations with people who are feeling the same way about their giving. They want to reconnect to the joy of giving away the resources they have worked so hard to acquire but the process is weighing them down.
One of the most popular ways for individuals and families to create a culture of giving in their lives is by establishing a private family foundation. This might conjure up ideas of the Rockefellers or other uber wealthy philanthropists, but in reality family foundations come in all shapes and sizes. They are a powerful giving vehicle but unless you have the resources to employ a staff like the Rockefellers you can be surprised by how much work is involved.
What starts, as an idea around making a difference in the world becomes an exercise in filling out tax returns, researching non-profits, sending correspondence and following up on the results of the gift. At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation we are fortunate to partner with a number of local family foundations in funding projects.
But sometimes these donors come to us because they are ready to off load the heavy lifting of the administrative tasks and just take the elevator to some powerful giving opportunities. Other philanthropists enjoy the work involved in their family foundations but don’t have successors to take over the responsibility and want us to work with them to develop a plan to take on the foundation after their death.
When you open a family foundation fund at the SWFL Community Foundation we become your staff and take on those tasks and provide a wide range of support services to your family.
Wherever you are in your charitable giving journey, we are happy to help you plan the trip, carry some of your bags or point you to the elevator. Giving should be the most fun you ever had so let us know if we can help you lighten the load. Just contact me at [email protected] or call me or any of my teammates, we are all concierges of philanthropy.