Tracy’s Blog

The Giving Season, 2014



What Good Donors Can Do this Holiday Season

Dear Generous Hearts and Souls,

As we head into year-end giving, I’m asking you to consider this question:

How do we ignite a spirit of giving that reflects the wealth we have

GAINED since the 2008 slump?

You may be one lucky duck if you are invested in the stock market. It has rebounded over the past 7 years and is currently up 13% over last year.  Coupled with a historically low inflation rate, it continues to provide financial peace of mind for so many of us.

You may be thinking you have “maxed out on giving”, but many haven’t. You may have given your year-end gifts. Many haven’t. Please consider giving a call to your advisors and reflect. “Can I do more to strengthen the nonprofits working on issues I care about?”

Take a read! Will you please?  And then pass this on to others who may find it useful.

Most of the people and institutions who need our help are not able to be invested in the market, and they have not recovered the losses suffered following the 2008 financial crisis: loss of jobs, opportunity, affordable rents and general disinvestment in public services.

Please consider these steps:

  1. 1.Think about what matters now in our country.

Are you concerned about issues such as electoral reform, unfair representation in governance, reproductive rights, social justice, incarceration, education, hunger, violence against women and children, climate change, species extinction, racism and other systemic inequities?

2. Would you like to do more against these inequalities but are not sure how you can?

Louis Wellmeier, Esq., from the Purposeful Planning Institute, has teamed up with me to present new evidence that shows why people who have invested in the stock market over the past ten years can likely afford to give another 1%-5% of assets or income to nonprofits this year. Are you among them? 

It takes just 10-15 minutes of reading the evidence below and ask yourself: “Can I do more in these next days and weeks to support the nonprofits and leaders I respect?

  1. 3.Try reflecting on this: What is really holding me back?

Do you not believe that our nonprofits are making a difference?  Can you help them articulate their impact? Can you advise them on how to share what they do in a better way on their websites or annual reports? Do you wonder if your support would be used for critical impact?

Do you need help to find good organizations that match your values and concerns?

Or is it a fear of not having enough money long term? Are you worried that the markets will crash? Please examine the evidence:

(These will take one minute to download)

During the period in which one of the biggest drops in history has occurred, those in the top 10%-25% are making substantial dough during the recovery and are often in denial about it.

  1. 4.We are here to support you to get an independent analysis.

The key is to go to your own tax and finance people and say, "What's the maximum I could give this year and have it be beneficial to myself and the community? Given how much you have helped me/us make in the past years, could we do more during this 2014 year-end giving season or over the next year?"  And see what they say. 

Because investment advisory firms, banks and trust companies collect fees based on assets under their management, they are apt to be conservative and advise caution. Thus, all recommendations, including ours, should be weighed.

We suggest that most people with stock and discretionary income or assets may have been under-giving overall in the past few years, given market returns. Giving was up 3% after inflation last year, when the markets were up over 20-25%. You may have given more, but many did not. The rate of market returns has come back strongly. Again, check out the charts of the S&P, NASDAC and Dow indices. Examine your own return.  You likely have made even more than the average of these indicies, if you are paying for great advisors.

Given the averages, you likely can afford to give more, and the community and social justice nonprofits do need your generosity.

Please consider giving 1%-5% more of your assets or accumulated income this December. Consider what this might mean for the issues you care about - and how it could also decrease your tax bill.

5. Here's the reason why you could likely give more:

Using an average of the 3 indices over 10 years, (1994-2004), a $5 million portfolio that's made on average of nearly 9% (before fees of approximately 1%) is now worth about $8.4 million after reducing for inflation (at 2.5%). This assumes you have not spent the corpus and have reinvested it. We know not all do this, but it’s an example.

So if you had $8.4 million now, rather than the $5 million you started with, the question we often hear is ‘how much should I give now? How do I decide who I should give to?’

6. Proper financial planning, philanthropic planning and legacy planning is the answer. Most people tend to consult advisors sporadically. Thus, money piles up and people are not aware of their current financial position and don’t know whether they have given as much as they could have in this tax year or over the years. We are all so busy, but please take the time to consider these points.

7. It is time to wake up and give more consciously. It is up to all of us to support those who work against injustice and inequality, is it not?


We say, get advice and GO FOR IT.

Are you in a position to do more?

Call us if you want to review these questions or charts confidentially. We don't need to know your full names. At Unleashing Generosity, we give only philanthropic and legacy guidance. And we are here to cheer on your leadership.

We are here also to review what MAY BE POSSIBLE or to give you a second opinion. Perhaps you know someone in your family who is sitting on dough and not moving it or not getting good advice. Can we help you inspire them to greater action?

Imagine the joy that your favorite grantees or community leaders might have with another $1,000-$25,000 donation this year.

For those of you with multi-millions, think what it might be like to follow the advice of my friend’s mother: “Honey, just add zeros!”

Let me know if you need ideas for great nonprofits. Forty years of philanthropic and legacy advising means we know a good number of nonprofits that may fit your vision.

We hope you will consider doing more.

It all begins with you. Have you done what you think is your share as a wealth holder?

If thousands get this and pass it on, we might cause a cascade this December. Wouldn't it be terrific…let’s start a GREAT GIVING MOVEMENT.

With gratitude for all you do, all year long, including Giving Tuesday and beyond!

Tracy Gary, Karen Payne, and Louis Wellmeier


PS. Please remember to make your year end gifts to your Donor Advised Funds SOONER rather than later. Nonprofits need the financial support. Do it this week; it often take 2-3 weeks to get to nonprofits.

Dec. 2nd is upon us. It is just 4 weeks from the end of the year. Remember that donating stocks may be a good tax strategy. Check with your tax person.

Lets get to that co-creation of a better world, together.

For a copy of this blog to forward to others, please send them this link: