For those of us working for a charity, the word “legacy” means a thoughtful charitable gift, a gift left in your Will. But there could be another meaning: how did you show up in the world?
In other words, aside from the dollars distributed from your estate, how do you want to be remembered? What do you want YOUR legacy to be?
How do you show up in the world? Most of us strive to be the best possible person we can in daily life. We aim to be productive, giving, and caring people who cause as little pain as possible to others when travelling on our own path. Some of us volunteer; others donate to important causes.
What do you want YOUR legacy to be? I was recently asked this question by our CEO, Chris Dennis. In the 26 years that I have been working in the charitable sector in estate planning, this was the first time I had ever been asked that question! So I have to admit, I needed a moment to reflect.
When speaking with donors who want to give a charitable gift in their Wills, I usually ask that early in our conversations. So I asked myself more of the same questions I pose to donors: What’s important to you? What are your core values, the beliefs you have woven into the fabric of your daily living? What do you think your purpose is for being here? And perhaps the most interesting question of all was: What’s missing? Is there anything else you could be doing while you’re healthy, happy and alive?’
Getting back to Chris a few days later, I said I wanted to create a Centre of Fundraising Excellence at the Alzheimer Society as part of my legacy. If I was going to take on the responsibilities of Chief Development Officer, I wanted to build a strong foundation of revenue to fight our foes of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. I wanted to educate people on why they need to overcome procrastination and complete their Powers of Attorneys and Wills. And I wanted to work with a team that strove to be the best.
When I reflected on my personal life, I know I have fallen a bit short of my goal of ensuring that the people I care for most know of how much I love and appreciate them. Yes, I tell my family and friends that I love them all the time, but I believe “deeds speak.” I noticed that there is room for improvement in my actions there and other areas too. And then it hit me: my legacy is a work in progress. I create my legacy moment by moment, day by day, by being intentionally aware of what I am creating, and who I choose to create it with.
So what do you want YOUR legacy to be?
I’d like to invite you to consider your personal legacy. How do you show up in the world? How do you treat yourself, others, your communities, and the planet? What gets in your way? What would it take to align your beliefs and words with simple actions? Your actions today, like completing an estate plan, can ensure others will be protected and thrive long after you leave this earth.
I invite you to create a strong personal legacy that includes cherished memories along with the dollar legacy you leave in your estate plans. Because in the end, it will be how people ‘remember’ us that will truly matter.
If you would like to share your thoughts on this blog, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Chief Development Officer, Planned Giving