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Giving back isn’t always about tax breaks.

Winston Churchill once said that, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” This is why, as financial planners, we always ask our clients about their giving habits, goals and how they feel about their philanthropic efforts. In some ways it can seem counterintuitive – aren’t we trying to help people maximize their assets and save more? Why would we ask them about giving it away? Several reasons, actually. 

The millennial generation is one of the most giving and focused on social responsibility. Even if this generation hasn’t built up much wealth yet, they are eager to give what they can. Even though many of the young professionals we work with won’t be getting much of a tax break (if any) from the amount they have to give, they still feel they’re getting something from it. Giving back to their communities feels good.

While there certainly can be tax breaks and other benefits for the giver, just like Churchill said, many people give simply because it makes them feel good about their lives. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and forget why we’re doing all the things we do. For all aspects of a financial plan – not just where a client chooses to give or donate – I encourage folks to get to the “why” of what they’re doing. What’s your purpose in both saving and giving? This helps clients stay on track with their savings goals, and feel purposeful and strategic in their charitable gifts.

With clients of all ages, another trend we see is that people tend to give where they feel a connection, no matter how small or large the gift. We have one client who adopted her dog from the local Humane Society, and she enjoys volunteering to give back and help out the other dogs. I know a couple of skilled handy-man types who enjoy volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. People tend to go where their passions and skills are, and that keeps them going back time and again.

For me, growing up as an Eagle Scout and spending time helping others gave me a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, even though I of course didn’t have a lot of money. And that’s a feeling and purpose that’s still around today.

Please, let me know what questions you have about starting a giving plan or setting some goals. We can work this into your overall financial plan – and help you stay on track. 

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