Giving Back Is Better With Company

Women know inherently that collaboration and community make it easier to do just about anything.  It appears this is true when it comes determining the best ways to give back.  Even billionaires feel that way. Dozens of them got together this past week in Tucson, Arizona as part of the Giving Pledge Gathering.  

According to some of those present, they discussed the biggest mistakes they’d made in pursuing philanthropy, calling it a sometimes lonely job. They want to use care and not just throw money at causes, instead exploring how best to invest funds to tackle the world’s big problems.  And they noted it is useful to share with other people who are pursuing the same efforts and sometimes struggling with decisions. 

Think about how much more profound these issues are for people without billions behind them to afford numerous advisors.  It was with that thought in mind that Creating Legacy was created as a network for just those people.  Our clients are successful, but not billionaires.  They’re more the Millionaire Next Door type, or, our particular focus Millionaire Women Next Door – folks who’ve worked and saved, invested and managed their money well, and now have significant funds, assets and other resources as well as time, energy and deep interests to bring to bear. They also want to give back and help improve the situations of people, places and things they care about. 

According to the number of new millionaires in the U.S. is projected to double by 2020.  They’ll be entering the discussion of how to properly manage their wealth, and how best to smartly give back in ways that are important and significant to them.

Not being billionaires, they share the concerns of managing their decisions well.  They’re more alone than others, possibly being the first in their families to ever amass significant assets, and need a network and community as well – one that can also help them navigate what may be a new world of giving. It’s just about understanding the types of contributions they can make – there are so many ways in addition to just contributing funds, available to so many people if they choose to consider it. It’s also about who the advisors are that they need, how to find good ones and when and how to properly engage them.  There is also the component of getting very clear on their authentic interests, and the best way to get engaged in these pursuits in a way that is joyful, rather than stressful.  How to have the important conversations, knowing the language and the territory; how to involve family, or not; and setting out to build something great are all topics that need to be navigated and mastered for giving success. 

It’s such a wonderful pursuit, when you are clear about what you’re doing and not floundering around trying to find the right people to help (and determine whether what they’re telling you is not only correct, but right for you.)  Our 7 Steps To Creating Your Legacy program was built with all that in mind.  To check out the steps click here and see what resonates with you. We’d love to share the program with you.

Please contact us for a no obligation consultation to find out more.

All the best to you,
Cheers, Dolly

What Will The Monday Morning Armchair Quarterbacks Say About You?

Another trademarked big football game (I understand I’m not to use its actual “super” name without permission) has come and gone.  Don’t know much about that, but this new decade, starting with the turn to 2011, started off with a bang for me.  After a great year in 2010, a quiet holiday season and New Year celebration, with some planning for where we would take Creating Legacy going forward, things got right out of hand. Okay, well save for having someone run a stop sign and T-bone the passenger side of my car just before the holidays.  (Did you know it’s gunpowder that makes air bags go off – and before you know it, too? Saltpeter, the critical oxidizing component of gunpowder has a very distinctive smell and covers everything inside the car, including you … but that’s another story.)

Not in any particular order, because the order somewhat evades me now, just after the new year I got food poisoning and was out of commission with fluid and electrolyte imbalance (I won’t go into detail) for the better part of a week.  Brain cells, among others, don’t work all that well without the right balance of fluids and salts available in the watery soup that makes up close to 70% of our physical bodies.

Just as I was coming back from that, I experienced the unexpected earthly departures of two friends and incredible members of one of my home communities. As with everyone, they both left incredible legacies – with varying degrees of financial structure and personal involvement – which were recounted by folks attending their memorial services.

My first experience of death was of a best friend in grade school.  I bring this up not to tie legacy to that subject, as many people do, but to reiterate that everyone has a legacy.  Even she did, departing at such an early age.  Some of the spark of how she defined herself and lived her life – which I got to experience and benefit from – lives on with me even today. 

One of my two community friends, while an amazing artist who produced a great number of beautiful paintings, also left the same sort of legacy – a memory of the day to day experience of her presence and its solidly supportive countenance, something she was constant about giving no matter where she was involved.  No doubt that is what each owner of one of her paintings will remember most, even if later only the beauty of the artwork carries on.  Both are significant contributions.

My other friend and colleague, who made a great deal of money during career had already established a trust to return some of those funds to cared about causes in an ongoing fashion.  In a new period of financial independence, he was working at other important projects without regard to whether they produced any income.  And making an incredible difference with both efforts, absolutely loving his life.

Both left too soon, and fortunately, quite deliberately left significant marks that will carry on.

It is the choice to consciously build such a legacy, born of experience, career, and success (financial and otherwise), contributed actively during the prime of one’s life, that fascinates me.  Particularly because I know, no matter whom you are or what your resources are, that everyone has the capacity to make a much bigger impact than they probably think they can. 

People notice and will talk about it after you’re gone, but will it be what you really want them to say about what you were passionate about and how you got involved?  For how many generations will that acknowledgment continue – will your grand- or great- or great-great-grandchildren (if you have progeny) know you and what you contributed? Will the communities you’ve impacted know what it is you want them to know about your choice to impact what was important to you – and for how many generations from now?

Yesterday would have been President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday. Yes, as an American President (a legacy building effort in itself) he was known worldwide, so we expect that people will talk about his political legacy on such occasions. It will be done, as usual, in that Monday morning armchair quarterbacking way, where different views will be aired.  A perfect example is a recent Miami Herald article which focused on a three way debate over his legacy on war, taxes and government.

But again, you don’t need to have been a sitting president with a large library of work to leave a legacy. Anyone can do their work and live their life with a sense of personal meaning, and consciously create activities that not only demonstrate what they care about, but from which they actually build something tangible – from an artifact to a charitable foundation, and many other forms in between.  It can, and will be something unique to them, the only real questions are whether they – you – will define it and participate in it, and how long-lasting the impact of that effort will be.

With the right mindset, information and actions, it’s quite possible for your personal legacy to be something you clearly define, concerning something you care about from the depths of your heart and soul, that brings you a great deal of joy and satisfaction to create, and that benefits many, many people for a very long time. 

You have that power.  How will you use it?

I’m excited about our comprehensive legacy planning program The 7 Steps To Creating Your Legacy that we’ll be rolling out in new forms in 2011.  It’s part of my legacy – and the mutual goal Eliza and I have set to help others create 100,000 legacies. It’s a big goal, so I’d better get back to work.  Please do be in contact if we can help you, or your clients, understand the full picture of what’s possible, and the steps to creating a legacy blueprint to make it happen.

Cheers, Dolly

It’s Good For You

Research shows that approaching life from a spirit of giving and focus on making a contribution has positive health impacts including improved life-satisfaction, physical and mental health and even living longer. A great legacy created by Sir John Marks Templeton serves to demonstrate – and perpetuate – these benefits.

The name makes him sound like British royalty, and he was created a Knights Bachelor in 1987 for his philanthropic efforts. He was born in the state of Tennessee in the U.S., but lived most of his life in the Bahamas, and is probably best known as the Chartered Financial Analyst who became a billionaire by pioneering the use of globally diversified mutual funds – through his now numerous Templeton Funds for investors.

Beyond his work, however, Templeton’s great interest was in spirituality, and he built a great legacy based on it. In 1972, he established the Templeton Prize to honor individuals who make “an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works” as stated on the organization’s website. He called recipients “entrepreneurs of the spirit,” and the first prize was given in 1973 to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received $85,000 for her charities. Based on sound management, the prize has grown to around $1.6 million annually.

To administer the prize, in 1987 Templeton established the John Templeton Foundation. It now awards around sixty million dollars every year to institutions and people for spiritual and scientific activities that explore values such as the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness, and creativity – in an effort to reconcile science and religion without diminishing either. The Foundation made the prize and other grant-making activities sustainable, and though Templeton passed from this earth in 2008, his legacy is still very much alive.

In 2001, the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love was founded with a grant from the foundation. It studies unselfish love and the benefits of giving back. The institute’s most recent report “It’s Good to be Good 2009: Health and the Generous Heart” is available on the site. The report details that developing a generous way of being and then doing or giving from that state indeed has benefits for the giver.

I mention Templeton not to emphasize what someone with billions can do – most people readily get that, but think they cannot do something similar. Maybe not at the same scale, but you can do something that will be as important for the recipient of your efforts.

Rather, I provide this example to show how one person, during his lifetime, used his career and his wealth to really address the things he was passionate about. I also provide the example to demonstrate that there are funds available for all kinds of great projects to benefit people and the planet. Creating legacy is not just about disseminating wealth, but about your authentic interest and willingness to act from there. That’s the foundation from which all great legacies are built.