Seniors and Philanthropy: A Client's Story

Seniors and Philanthropy: A Client's Story

Ellen's biggest challenge was not the upkeep of her four homes around the United States. She had staff to take care of that. Her challenge, once she got sick, was health insurance claims, lots of mail, and the ever-growing number of requests from charitable organizations that accumulated in her New York apartment. 

On the advice of her financial advisor, she contacted Eddy & Schein. Gideon took care of the health insurance claims, winnowed out the mail, and helped Ellen focus on the philanthropic requests. He then researched charitable organizations to identify the most deserving and best managed in each category. Together they developed a budget for contributions. Gideon maintained a spreadsheet of "gifts given" to which they referred as they reviewed the pile of requests accumulated between visits. 

Ellen felt relieved to have an organized process and to know she was making generous gifts based on careful, thoughtful analysis, not just the emotional pull of a letter or photo.

Charity as a Way of Life 

For all our clients, charitable donations are a way of life and giving does not stop as they age. Whether a senior gives a few hundred or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, many of the issues are the same.

How to Decide 

One of the first questions that needs to be answered is what percentage of the individual's total spending budget should go to gift-giving. This decision should be re-visted annually in case financial circumstances change. 

The next biggest challenge is the overwhelming number of requests received in the mail and on the phone. This can be confusing for anyone, but as people age, it is even more difficult. When the mail comes, bills, personal correspondence, thank you letters for donations, subscription renewal notices, junk mail, and charitable solicitations must be sorted for follow-up or disposal. For charitable solicitations, the first task is to identify which organizations have already received gifts, and whether they should receive additional donations, which ones have yet to be given anything, and of those, which should be sent contributions. 

Another problem is how to decide between different organizations raising funds for the same medical condition or societal problem. Help is needed to identify:

  • What issues/campaigns should be supported; e.g., a physical ailment, homelessness, food drives, wilderness/parks, peace campaigns, overseas programs, etc.
  • Of those issues, which one or two organizations are best suited to address them
  • What percentage of the total gift-giving budget should be allocated to each

For a copy of the Eddy & Schein A Thoughtful Plan for Philanthropic Giving, please click here

Whether seniors have a system or respond to the emotional pull of a letter or phone solicitation, there comes a point when they no longer can manage as before. This is where a family member and/or a Daily Money Manager/Financial Organizer can help.

April 2011 - FEATURE
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