Investing in Your Legacy

Our partners at Alliance Bernstein share ways to invest in your legacy today.

Nicholas Birren (Vice-President, Private Wealth Management)
Margaret Borrasso (Associate Director, Foundation & Institutional Advisory)


Designing a philanthropic vision involves personal choices about your values, knowing your capacity for giving, and understanding the real impact of your giving over a long period of time.

If you have an established philanthropic plan, take a step back and assess what is working well, what can be improved, and has it had the impact you wanted? If a change needs to be made, what’s driving that need for change?

If a philanthropic plan is new for you and your family—perhaps due to a large liquidity or a life event that causes a shift in your priorities—it’s important to consider the desired focus for your philanthropic capital. To accomplish this, you will need to start with identifying your values.


Identifying Values

At times, defining one’s values can seem daunting or “heavy.” It may be hard to know where to start, or how to articulate something that is an integral part of your life. Yet values guide us through our daily lives whether we can articulate them or not. They influence decisions for your family, business, and many other aspects of life, including philanthropy. Identifying our personal values is critical because they provide focus and clarity to our philanthropic plan. Without these two elements then our giving is simply sporadic and reactive, when it should be meaningful and impactful.

Most importantly, by articulating our values we can have deeper conversations with family members when discussing what we want our legacy to be and our capacity for giving.


Your Capacity of Giving

Once we understand our personal values, then knowing how much we’re able to give in our lifetime is vital. Put another way, how much you can give without undermining your long-term spending or wealth transfer needs. To help you understand this we developed a specific framework for investment planning called, “Core/Surplus.” First, we run an analysis to ensure you have secured and can sustain what we call your “core capital;” or the amount of money you need to secure your lifestyle for the rest of your life. Any assets above your core capital are then called “surplus capital;” or money you could spend on big, optional purchases, or give to friends, family, or charity. Of course, without the proper planning

your surplus is also the money that will be taxed as part of your estate. Regardless, it’s knowing your surplus capital that will help you make decisions around investing in your legacy.


Total Philanthropic Value

If articulating your values and knowing your giving capacity over your lifetime help guide decisions on where to give, then the ability to measure your gifts helps realized the impact of your giving legacy. Total Philanthropic Value (TPV) is the sum of your gifts over time and any remaining assets in your estate that support future giving. If you write checks directly to nonprofit organizations, your TPV is the total amount of those checks over time in today’s dollars. However, if you give now to a donor-advised fund (DAF), private foundation, or trust that will distribute money over time, your TPV is the sum of the expected annual grants and the expected amount remaining after 20 years, for example. Ultimately, the more you give and the earlier you give it, the greater your TPV. This is where the proper investment planning affects your legacy of giving. Because writing checks is one thing; but it’s all the exciting work done in advance around the asset allocation of your charitable investments, your time horizon for making grants, and the expected market returns that will ultimately determine your TPV.

To have a conversation about defining yours and your family’s values, or to better understand your capacity for giving or your Total Philanthropic Value, please reach out to Mac Hardcastle


We encourage you to use the FREE estate planning tools from Giving DocsWith Giving Docs you can easily create a will in just a few minutes. This service will remain free for your lifetime, and you can update or change your plans at any time.

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