April 22, 2020
I think there is no question that in times where we face challenges, the human spirit rises to the cause. What we are all living through today with a global pandemic is a perfect example of this. It’s hard to watch or read the news and hear about the tragedy of the coronavirus and all of the displacement, poverty and death associated with it, but when a story of recovery, resilience or kindness is shared it truly warms my heart. And let’s not forget what we are seeing firsthand! In my neighborhood this week there were three birthdays for little kids where people drove by their houses and honked their horns in celebration. I have no doubt that quarantine birthdays are not fun, but people making lemonade out of lemons certainly gave these kids something fun to remember as they started a new trip around the sun.
My friends would laugh and tell you that I would be the person who gave their last dollar to a homeless person on the street before I spent it on myself. I have always had a giving spirit. I share this not to brag at all, but to describe a core value of who I am as a person. I’ve always believed in my personal and professional life that you absolutely will not get ahead or be successful if you don’t give your time, talent or money to those who may need it. And it’s not just helping those in need, but also helping to brighten someone’s day or give them a reason to smile. Kind gestures go a long way and there are many things that I love to do that cost no money at all.
As I opened my email this morning, I received two requests for donations. Both organizations are ones I have supported in the past and I am happy that I can continue to do this. So many people and places need help these days. Unfortunately, it is a sign of the times and what we are all facing. It got me thinking because I hear all of the time that people want to give back but they don’t know what they can do, or how to make an impact, or sometimes they don’t think that what they can give will make an difference. So, let’s clear one thing up right now; anything you can do with your resources helps no matter the shape or size of a gift. Yes, there are big and small causes alike, but all the small gifts add up to a large impact so please do not discourage yourself!
There are several ways to give on a larger scale and this kind of planning is some of my favorite work to do with clients. I truly love working with folks who have philanthropic intent. Like many things, leverage can be used to enhance resources you have today to make a much larger impact over the longer term. Some of these strategies include charitable trusts, gift annuities, donor advised funds, utilization of life insurance, or legacy planning. Each of these tools are unique and have different considerations. Some are used while you are alive, some you set-up to benefit an organization or a cause after you pass away, or you can construct some combination of the two. Each one is unique and can be structured to meet your specific intentions. Partnering with an advisor and assembling the correct team can put a great plan into action. The cool thing also about this kind of planning is that it is relatively flexible, and you can often amend or expand on it while you are alive and still capable of making decisions. So if today you want to help the mission of an organization helping to support those effected by the coronavirus, and when this is in the history books for us you want to save the sea turtles, you can do both!
I believe in “eating my own cooking” as an advisor. I give my best advice based on my experience and intellect to those who I am fortunate enough to serve. I have and will continue to support my causes in both small and larger ways and I love that I get to help clients plan to do the same. It’s important though not to forget the non-monetary things too, especially today and in the days ahead. My Wednesday list is a long one, but on it are phone calls, handwritten notes, and a few texts to check in on people I care about that I haven’t spoken with lately. When I get home my daughter and I will continue our project of sewing face masks to give to people who cannot procure them quickly enough given the demand. These small things are what make me tick! To me, creating happiness for others is the best feeling in the world and I love that I can do that though giving back.
Iris Buczkowski is the founder of Birch Wealth Management (birchwealth.com). Original content provided by Iris is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice.