How To Take Your Charitable Giving To The Next Level

Marvi Ricker, Vice President, Director of Philanthropic Advisory Services, BMO Wealth Management and John Waters, Vice-president, Director of Tax Consulting Services, BMO Wealth Planning, BMO Financial Group

There’s no doubt about it; having the financial means to support causes you care about is extremely rewarding — but is it as rewarding as it could be?

The more money you have, the easier it is to say yes to every charity that needs your help. However, there are more effective ways to give. If you want the organizations you care about to receive the greatest benefit from what you give, having a giving strategy can help.

Warren Buffett summed it up well when he said: “Giving money away is easy. Giving money away well is fiendishly difficult.” The one thing that can eliminate that difficulty is a formalized giving strategy. Marvi Ricker, Vice President, Director of Philanthropic Advisory Services, notes, “a strategy is the one thing that separates charitable giving from philanthropy.”

Does a giving strategy make sense for you?

If you want your donations to have the greatest impact to the causes you care about, the answer is yes.

According to a 2016 survey1, 43% of high net worth Canadians are concerned that their donations or gifts won’t be used wisely. Creating a giving strategy with a trusted wealth management professional helps to ensure the money you give is invested and dispersed wisely so that your recipient reaps the greatest benefit.

As John Waters, Vice-president, Director of Tax Consulting Services, points out, “Canada has generous tax incentives for charitable giving. With the right strategy, you can optimize the tax benefits of your gifting.” As an added benefit of having a giving strategy, consider this: the less tax you pay, the more you have available to give.

In Canada, there are three common ways to support the charities you believe in

You can donate cash or other assets “in-kind” (e.g. securities, life insurance policies or other property) during your lifetime or through your Will. You can establish a Donor Advised Fund and use it to disburse funds to charitable organizations over time. Or you can create a private foundation – a particularly effective option for those contemplating substantial gifts.

How you choose to give has as much to do with your assets as it has to do with your timeline, which is why incorporating a giving strategy into your overall wealth plan makes sense. Your wealth management professional understands the bigger picture, including your long-term goals and immediate needs, and can help you fulfil your charitable aspirations without compromising the lifestyle you want to enjoy today, the legacy you plan to leave your kids, or any other personal priorities.

Whichever strategy or strategies you choose, one thing remains certain: base your giving on careful planning rather than impulse and you’ll be able to transform your personal beliefs into meaningful philanthropic action that will have a positive impact during your lifetime and beyond.

Ready to start planning? Reach out to your BMO Relationship Manager to learn more about these strategies.


1BMO Wealth Management survey conducted by ValidateIt Technologies Inc. between the dates of August 16 and August 23, 2016. The online sample size was 502 Canadians of high net worth with investable assets excluding primary residence of over $1,000,000. The survey has a confidence interval of +-4.32% at the 95% confidence level.
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