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Give now, benefit now

publication date: May 9, 2011
A Canadian trend toward high-speed giving over long-term endowments is epitomized by Brett Wilson, a Calgary-based investment banker, philanthropist and Dragon's Den deal maker.  In speaking with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Wilson has this to say - "Once you're dust, you're dust.  This idea of setting up a legacy for 100 years is shameful - it's an empire-building strategy."

Shifting attitudes to encompass giving in business terms, a growing pool of wealthy Canadians, and new tax incentives for large gifts of assets are all contributing a movement of donors contributing their wealth before or shortly after death.

This approach runs counter to the traditional endowment, set up as part of estate planning and then funded at the time of the donor's death.  In this model, the contribution would be invested, with the interest earned handed out in grants over many years. It's a model that Wilson and others like him are critical of.  "Many [charities] think that if they raise a big enough endowment they won't have to fundraise again.  That's just a condemnation of their own ability to raise funds down the road."

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