I recently heard a TED Radio Hour story on NPR about Lux Narayan, an entrepreneur and data analyst. His organization spent two years analyzing the obituaries in The New York Times, looking for threads of commonality between the people who were featured. Then, his team created a word cloud of the text to show which words turned up most often.
One word showed up in large, bold type is help, because these people made a positive impact on the lives of others. They helped.
Helping and giving back is incredibly important to me. It’s the reason I got into financial planning. Every day I help others achieve their dreams.
Working with hundreds of clients over the years, I have discovered a pattern: many people want to help through philanthropic gifting or volunteerism, but they have a hard time deciding whether to give time or money, and how they should do it.
With the help of our financial advisor, my husband, Greg, and I prioritize our values and goals in how we want to save and give back. Over the years, our priorities have changed. Our days are filled with the family obligations of two elementary school kids and full-time careers. We both volunteer on boards for our respective careers, mine for financial planning and his for the Mid-Town Business Association.
When time is short, we give in other ways, through checkbook philanthropy, giving annually to places like my alma mater or to Youth Journalism International.
As a wealth advisor, I spend time learning what my clients are passionate about to help find creative ways to donate to those charities when time or energy runs short. I help people decide when to name a foundation as a beneficiary on an account or gift a portion of retirement funds to create tax savings.
If you want to leave a legacy in our community, try following this process:
- Clarify your values. What issues are most important to you? Economic prosperity across the community? Environmental stewardship? Social equity? Something else?
- Write down your goals. Will you be giving time or money, or both?
- Find a professional who can help you navigate the ways you can give. There are benefits to the community and your family to consider.
- Reassess your values and goals over time. It’s not uncommon to find that one cause becomes more important to you as others wane.
Lux Narayan finished his talk by asking, “As you go about your daily lives, how am I using my talents to help society?” I live this every day in working with my clients, and I welcome the opportunity to assist others in achieving their own legacy of help.