I recently retired. For the next few years I have a financial windfall coming in – from an arrangement that was set up decades ago, when a company on whose board I served let me defer compensation and put it into stock. My wife and I decided to give 50% of our income to charity, as much as the tax law supports, during the time these extra funds are coming in (6 years beginning in 2004). We just don’t need that money for ourselves. If possible, we would like to continue the 50% giving even after the deferred compensation payments cease.
I taught Corporate Strategy and General Management and launched and ran Executive Education Programs for decades in the business school of a large state university, and never earned a huge salary. But we’re children of the Depression who always saved and invested more than we spent, so we have plenty now, as does our grown son. My friends have suggested that since we love being on the ocean we could buy a big boat or an expensive beach house. But my wife and I never developed the taste for indulging in expensive leisure activities since we were not wealthy in our younger lives. And to spend half a million or a million dollars on a boat and additional ocean home (we already have a small place on Cape Cod) would feel like a terrible waste when so much good can be done with that money. Quite frankly it gives us more pleasure to help needy people and support causes we believe in.
I’m on the Board of a little nonprofit that’s working on affordable housing and serve on the social justice committee in church, and am working with some other philanthropic organizations, but this level of giving is new for us. We have always given a reasonable amount of our income to charitable organizations, but most of our lives we felt we had to focus on family living and saving for retirement.
It will be exciting to give so much more than we ever have given, but it is also quite a learning curve. We are looking for a place to put our talents and energy as well as our money.
I have many philanthropically-oriented classmates from my Harvard Business School days, and at the reunions, many of us are asking how to give back. I’d like to start something that can help engage that energy. We’ve all been so lucky. Sure we worked hard, but much of our financial abundance resulted from having a good start in life. It’s hardly a level playing field out there. Maybe together we can do something to make it just a little more level, so that others who have less fortunate beginnings or fewer of the advantages we have had can also have an equal opportunity to develop their potential and succeed in their lives.
| Midwest | 60 plus Years Old | $1-$10M | at least 50% | Profession |
| Social Justice | Fairness | Joy | Simplicity |