All About Estates

Philanthropy is personal; fundraising is social

There are two types of charitable giving: personal and social. Gifts that are part of the estate plan are typically a form of personal giving. By contrast, most traditional charity fundraising uses a social giving model. Both are equally important, but it is helpful to make the conceptual distinction when helping clients to include philanthropy in their estate plans.

To understand the social giving model, think about a fundraising campaign. It has a set timeline, a monetary goal, and clear priorities. The charity uses the campaign period to articulate its “case for support” and identifies prospective supporters. Volunteers are recruited to solicit funds from friends and acquaintances, and often the volunteer has as much to do with a positive response as the cause itself. To encourage donations, charities typically use public recognition to provide social reinforcement. The down-side of this model: donors can feel like their giving is reactive or a response to social pressure.

Personal giving is the inverse of social giving. The classic personal donor gives without being asked. It is a process that starts with the individual or family making a decision to give, rather than responding to a fundraising request. The gift is from assets and is enabled by financial and estate planning executed in private. Personal donors give to express deeply-held values and beliefs – often in response to profound life experiences. That’s partly why, for example, only 10 per cent of bequest donors inform the charity of their gift in advance.

About Malcolm Burrows
Malcolm is a philanthropic advisor with over 30 years of experience. He is head, philanthropic advisory services at Scotia Wealth Management and founder of Aqueduct Foundation. Views are his own.