When the COVID-19 crisis first arrived on the scene in Canada, the Board of Trustees was very concerned about the effects of the economic downturn on Church and Conference giving. However, in the first nine months of 2020, EMC expenses are down, revenues are up, and we have a surplus at the three-quarters mark of the year. Praise God for this wonderful news! Part of the reason for the surplus in October is due to receiving a major gift earlier this year, but the overall picture is still very positive.
Like more than half of all Canadian adults, Roger did not have a will. As a child, he had been adopted into a wealthy family and, although he loved them deeply, he struggled to form a strong relationship with his siblings. When their father also died, Roger and his siblings each inherited a significant fortune. Roger discovered his siblings squandered theirs, which he felt was shameful and did not honour their father’s hard work. He mentioned to a friend that he had not yet drafted a will. He had never married, had no children, and had just never gotten around to it. His friend warned him that without a will, he might be shocked at how his estate would be managed.
Since Roger was not married and did not have any children, if he died without a will his estate would default to using the legislation set out in his province. A general guiding principle is, “If a person does not formally indicate how they want his or her property distributed upon death, it is presumed that the person wants it to go to family members.” Roger was disturbed to realize that the fortune he had received from his father would be given to his siblings, who had misspent what they had already inherited. He also realized that not having a will prevented him from optimizing his estate’s tax efficiency. Even more alarming, he discovered that there would be absolutely no plan for donating anything from his estate to the charities that were near and dear to his heart. He made up his mind to do something about it and sought the guidance of Abundance Canada.
Like Roger, many people only create their will when a crisis or life event grabs their attention and motivates them to put a plan together. However, a proactive and enthusiastic approach to estate planning is far more rewarding. At its core, estate planning is an act of stewardship over all that you have been blessed with. It can be a delightful experience to take the time to reflect and carefully consider who will be blessed by the assets you have accumulated over years of hard work. Will and estate planning also provides an opportunity to share your values and help determine what impact your wealth will have in the world. After all, the greatest financial gift many of us will ever make is through our estate.
Although focussed on the future, estate planning is a good starting point to establish strategic giving today. With a carefully-thought out plan in place, you can give during your lifetime, while creating a legacy that is in-line with your values. A donor-advised, charitable foundation like Abundance Canada can help you think strategically about giving, setting in motion a ripple effect of generosity that will continue to impact the world for many years to come.
Peter Dryden is a Gift Planning Consultant at Abundance Canada. For more than 40 years, Abundance Canada has effectively helped Canadians with their charitable giving in their lifetime and through their estate. To learn more, visit abundance.ca or call 1.800.772.3257 to arrange a no obligation free consultation.
“Time is Money” I saw emblazoned on an imported van as I drove the pot-hole-ridden, zebu cart-clogged roads of Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar.
It seems to me as a westerner in a country where inefficiency appears to reign, that if “time is money,” then Madagascar, proclaimed as one of the poorest nations on earth, has some of the “wealthiest” citizens in the world! This is an interesting concept to contemplate, especially as we begin straddling two countries and cultures in this transitional period moving from there (Madagascar) to here (Canada).
I’ve watched Malagasy eye me accusingly as I seem to spend money without thought, choosing to pay someone to do a task that would take far too long for me to accomplish on my own. In my mind, of course, I feel as though I handle the money I’ve been given with a loose grip, giving generously to workers, investing in the lives of artisans. I have the financial resources to spend, so I spend it.
Many Malagasy don’t have financial resources to spend, but they have so much time that—from a western perspective—they use it thoughtlessly. I’ve observed time spent as liberally as money is spent in Canada. Many Westerners convince themselves that they have more money than time. In Madagascar they appear to have more time than money. Each spends what they have, not realizing how wealthy they really are!
Malagasy lament that they are financially poor, mourning their limited financial resources, while dallying at their tasks and cheating themselves by not charging for the time they have invested in a product. What takes 10 minutes in Canada can take half a day in Madagascar. Yet what costs $10 in Canada costs 10 cents in Madagascar. I’ve been astounded at the simple difference of value placed on different resources or “idols” (time, money), depending on the culture.
I marvel at how each culture is wealthy in different ways. This can appear to be a lopsided and unjust allocation, or it can be an opportunity for people to come together to pool the unique resources they have been given for the building of communities.
Church bodies and individuals are likewise rich in different resources. It’s the way God has blessed us! Differences have the potential to draw us together so each of us can give and receive something of value: Time. Finances. Skills. Wisdom. Empathy. Strength. Encouragement. Discipline.
The wisest way to manage what I am wealthy in within the Kingdom of God is obedience! If I listen and obey the Word and the Spirit, I will enter God’s perfect symphony of what it means to be the Church, the Body of Christ. In this way we collaborate towards a shared goal: building the Kingdom, glorifying the Almighty.
Reading, study and writing are some of the wisest ways of using my day, although it doesn’t look like I’m “doing” much. It’s recognizing the gifts and strengths God has given me and applying them to the building of the Kingdom. What riches do you contribute to Kingdom culture?
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference