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planned giving & trust se r vices Unicorns and Rainbows Philanthropy is the “unicorn” of investing in the financial world, and charitable giving is the “rainbow.” R ecently I was flipping through the pages of the Financial Post and stopped in my tracks at the sight of a giant picture of a unicorn. Curious, I delved into the article, an insightful and inspiring discovery of the perfect alternative investment—philanthropy—more commonly known as charitable giving. Today’s low interest rates also mean low investment returns. However, charitable donations always yield positive returns. 1 Philanthropy is the “unicorn” of investing in the financial world, and charitable giving is the “rainbow.” Financial Post writer David Kaufman says, “Being philanthropic makes you feel good. When was the last time you invested in a mutual fund and felt better about yourself the next day? Take that same money and give it to people and organizations who need it, and you will no doubt feel good about yourself.” 2 Another Post writer explains that the Canadian government has “done its part to encourage charitable giving by expansion of tax credits to the elim ination of capital gains on stocks given to charities . . . . Philanthropy is about wanting to be engaged, to get at root causes of problems and make lasting change.” 3 And you don’t need to give a lot to benefit: there are tax rate and credit benefits for donations of $200 or less and extra perks for first-time donors. 4 Another advantage of giving to charity is that “you are always helping someone.” 5 In the current financial climate, life is hard for everyone, but particularly so for those who are less fortunate. Overall, when you approach investing philanthropically, everyone wins: funds are given to those who need it, and those who give will benefit from having made a worthwhile difference. Perhaps, however, you are not in a position to give financially. This doesn’t mean that philanthropy is beyond your grasp. There are so many ways in which we can give, including through our “most valuable asset”: our time. 6 When you donate your time and energy to a charity, pick one that you have a real passion for and care about. You can participate in mission trips, disaster relief projects (e.g., ADRA), or volunteer at a youth camp—or volunteer in your community, at your local church, or a school program. Tia Lawrence, from Victoria, B.C., organized the “Stuffie Drive,” in which she and several other students collected 1,000 hats, mittens, scarves, and stuffed animals to give to Syrian refugee children resettling in British Columbia. My retired aunt and uncle donate their time at the local school for its breakfast and lunch program, which provides meals for students who come to school hungry or with no lunch. After I lost my job and house and struggled to get back on my feet, I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in order to help families who had experienced losses similar to my own. The experience changed my career path, bolstered my confidence, and brought some happiness back into my life. When we see hardship through the eyes of those who are suffering and we do something about it, we engage in “social activism at its best.” 7 No matter how we choose to donate, the benefits are always positive. True philanthropists have more than just money— they have ideas, which they follow through on with passion and persistence. 8 Philanthropy is about unicorns and rainbows, and it is the only investment to which there are no drawbacks. In Kaufman’s words, “We hear a lot about giving to others. It’s a very good time to think about how giving can become a central part of your investment strategy. Many people will be better off for it—including you.” 9 n Leah Keys writes from Newcastle, Ont. 1 David Kaufman, “Why Philanthropy Is the Best Alternative Investment,” Financial Post, Jan. 2, 2016, FP8. Kaufman FP8. 3 Marvi Ricker, “Beyond Mere Giving,” Financial Post, Oct. 25, 2010, A18. 4 Josh McConell, “Growing Trend in Canada Among Young Professionals,” Financial Post, Jan. 9, 2016, FP9. 5 Kaufman, FP8. 6 Kaufman, FP8. 7 Ricker, A18. 8 Ricker, A18. 9 FP8. 2 M Apr i l 2 016 13