Steve Evans, Guest Columnist: Building a Legacy for the Greater Good

Steve Evans thinks building a legacy for the greater good is a great place for a business person to start when planning the next tax break.

Business Speak Building a Legacy for the Greater Good By Steve Evans, Guest Columnist Originally published in the June/July 2010 issue of 850 Magazine

In 2007, according to the Florida Philanthropic Network, charitable giving in Florida totaled approximately $15.4 billion, with $14 billion coming from individuals. This statistic is impressive not only for the sheer number of dollars donated to charities, but also for the fact that giving by individuals accounted for the vast majority of this total. Floridians have clearly demonstrated they are generous during tough economic times.

The United States is unique in that during our relatively short 234-year history, we have developed a culture and tradition that embraces the philanthropic spirit. Giving of our time, talent or treasure is not mandated, but it is a personal decision many of us make without hesitation.

Charitable giving also makes business sense. Polls over the years have shown that a vast majority of Americans believe businesses should give back to the communities in which they operate. And, good corporate citizens are not only far more likely to develop a loyal customer following but are also rewarded with stronger employee loyalty.

A 2002 study prepared for the national Council on Foundations showed one of every three customers says a company’s giving record is a reason for doing business with it.

“The drive for loyalty requires companies to be better than their competitors by finding ways to differentiate themselves and gain a competitive edge. This is where a focus on corporate philanthropy can play a role,” the report by Walker Information concluded.

Among the recommendations in the report: Make decisions about the specific programs you initiate and support in terms of how they fit with your overall corporate goals. And, in the long run, “Both heart and business as the new philosophy of corporate philanthropy will create positive outcomes for all.”

Whether your passion is education, health care, social services, the arts, religious organizations or others, North Florida is fortunate in that we have many outstanding charities and foundations worthy of support as you begin to build your legacy of corporate and personal philanthropy.

Today, you have the ability to build your legacy in precise ways that ensure your wishes are carried out in perpetuity. And you have a variety of tools from which to choose to support your favorite cause — many of them designed to help you meet your current financial obligations and reach your personal philanthropic goals. Here are just a few examples:

Outright Gift: By making an immediate gift, an organization can begin to utilize the resources right away. An outright gift can be made using a variety of assets and vehicles, including cash, stock, securities, grants from a personal foundation, and in certain instances, highly marketable real estate.

Pledge: Gifts of a large magnitude are often paid over time. Many donors choose to set up a payment schedule that best suits their personal and financial goals while giving the organization the comfort of knowing it can sustain the positive difference this gift will make in people’s lives.

Bequests: Leave your legacy by making a gift in your will or living trust to friends, family and charitable organizations. A bequest is one of the simplest ways to support a cause or organization. If you wish, you can designate a percentage or a specific dollar amount to support your charity.

Charitable Gift Annuity: A gift annuity is a simple, contractual agreement between a donor and charity in which you give assets to the charity in exchange for the charity’s promise to pay one or two annuitants fixed payments for life.

Retirement Plans and Life Insurance Policies: You can list a charity on the beneficiary form provided by your retirement plan administrator. For an IRA or Keogh plan you administer personally, notify the custodian in writing. For life insurance, you can name a charity as the sole or partial beneficiary so that you maintain these assets in the policy during your lifetime in the event you need them. Once the policy matures, the assets within it will transfer to the charity and be used for the specific purpose you designate.

These are just a few of the many options you may use to help you achieve philanthropic goals for yourself and your business. Each has its own tax and estate advantages. Before making a decision, it’s important to speak with your attorney or financial advisor. More information can also be found on the FSU Foundation’s website at under the “Ways to Give” tab.

The kindness, caring and generosity exhibited by each of us have never been more important or needed. Today, we have not just an obligation, but an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of those who truly need our help.


STEVE EVANS Evans, a resident of Tallahassee and retired IBM executive, is interim president of The Florida State University Foundation and serves on the board of the Community Foundation of North Florida.