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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

'Tis better to give. Period.

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We recently published a piece on on four reasons why giving is good for you, with the thesis that money really can buy you happiness, but only when you give it all away. Author Tim McCarthy stressed that all of us could invest something – big or small – towards an initiative that gives back on a deeper human level.

And though it may feel at times – to some of us at least – that we don’t have a dollar to spare, the truth is that Americans are saving at a rate of 5.30 percent of annual income, which is well above the record low of 0.80 percent in 2005, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. So in essence, most of us do have something to give, no matter how small.

Though not recognized nearly enough, insurance companies are some of the most philanthropic organizations out there. New York Life, for example, has its own charitable foundation that has, since its inception in 1979, provided almost $170 million in contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. MassMutual is another example. In 2013 alone, the mutual insurance company donated nearly $8 million through its local and national giving programs. Prudential – possibly one of the most generous of all insurance companies – has five different branches of its charitable giving organization. From investing in affordable housing to bringing jobs to distressed communities to its involvement in “impact investments” (or using the company’s funds and resources to work with other business leaders to create solutions to social challenges of today and tomorrow). Lincoln Financial is another stalwart of the philanthropic community. The Philadelphia-based corporation donates an average of $10 million annually to grantees in its communities.

And let’s not forget the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, which has contributed more than $21 million in community grants since its inception in 1994. And of course, Life Happens, which, among other initiatives, has awarded nearly $900,000 in college scholarships to students who have lost a parent or guardian and are in need of financial support for college.

But it’s not just the world’s largest insurance companies and their associated charitable counterparts that are ready and willing to give. There are individuals out there with money to donate but no guidance on giving. That’s where many of you come in.

As the economy continues to improve and the U.S. population continues to age, more people will be in need of retirement and estate planning professionals than ever before. There are 15 million mass affluent (annual income between $100,000 and $149,000) households in the U.S. – most of which are in need of professional advice on the topics of giving and investing in the greater good.

Furthermore, the world’s billionaires are holding an average of $600 million each in cash, which is more than the gross domestic product of Dominica, according to the new Billionaire Census from Wealth-X and UBS. That’s up from $60 million the previous year, signaling that the very wealthy are keeping their money on the sidelines and waiting for an optimal investment time. Might that be now?

As McCarthy notes in his article, “…while money is important, it cannot buy purpose, significance or overall satisfaction.” But it can buy the expertise of a professional who can help bring purpose and satisfaction to a client in need. 


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