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The Royal Wedding & Philanthropy

The spectacle of Will & Kate’s wedding today prompts thoughts about philanthropy and matrimony.

The most obvious connection is the couple’s request that, in lieu of gifts, people make donations to one or more of 26 charities — many little known. While cynics have suggested that this is a way of minimizing heartfelt but useless offerings – Elizabeth and Phillip received 500 cased of tinned pineapple from the people of Queensland – the focus on charity is positive. Maybe, like Queen Victoria’s white dress and orange blossoms, the gesture will foster a trend.

The natural next step after the royal wedding is the rather more mundane state of marriage, which has a tendency of turning into divorce among the Windsors. While stable marriages are often positive breeding grounds for philanthropy, divorce has a bad habit of prompting insecurities, financial woes, and strife. Philanthropy may, not surprisingly, be relegated to a low priority.

There are exceptions, of course. At the recent CAGP national conference, a donor described how she had set up a donor advised fund in response to the emotional warfare of her divorce. Choosing to support humanitarian and women’s causes she used philanthropy to make a personal statement about her values and beliefs. She found something positive among the ashes of her marriage.

But it’s royal wedding day, so I’ll embrace the collective mood of optimism: may joy be shared through charitable giving.

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