Our United Way

We may occasionally toy with the idea of what to do with millions if we win a lottery  but I think this may be the extent of most people’s philanthropic dreams. (After a long and happy marriage my spouse and I have agreed to split the funds 50/50 and never to talk to each other about what we each did with our half.)

Besides, how much wealth does the average person really need to accumulate before they can make a difference for the things they care about in the community? If you are thinking millions or hundreds of thousands, think again. According to the book, “Excellence in Fundraising in Canada” the average gift in a will in Canada is $25,000 and the average monthly gift is in the $25 range.

$25,000 seems do-able and very meaningful. There is just one problem. We have to die to make the gift, so giving $25 a month seems far more reasonable. But, our wallets are usually filled with loonies, toonies, an old button from a shirt, 1o+ receipts, loyalty cards, an appointment card for a haircut etc. etc. etc. Finding the cash is the first problem and then there is the question of who do I give it to?

Do you remember the book, “The Wealthy Barber?” I have lived my entire working life by the Wealthy Barber principle of ‘saving first’ and it has provided me a guilt free life when it comes to spending. So I wondered, how many of us apply a similar principle to ‘giving first’ knowing that our monthly donations are whisked away at source through pay roll deductions, and our gifts add up over our lifetime? Without having millions to give, even the average joe has the opportunity to make it to the top of the philanthropy charts.

I suspect my thoughts have been driven by the United Way launch next week (September 17th at Spirit Square, City Hall. Bring a lunch, your family, and your friends!) The event nearly always feels a bit like New year’s Eve for me – a celebration that brings people together to look forward to a new year – and with the added benefit of not needing to stay up past midnight.

But more than just a one-time event,  the United Way Campaign is our community’s largest collective impact project – the bringing together of thousands of individuals who make the possible probable because they work together in a united way.

Most Canadians say that when it comes to what really matters, they want to know that they make a difference. I suppose our challenge is to think differently – instead of planning on building or winning enough in hopes of making a large legacy gift at some time in the future, why would’t we give what we can now so we get to witness the large difference we make in our community during our lifetime.

To learn more about the United Way visit http://www.uwgv.ca

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