Nothing feels better than helping other people. I’m writing this story of how I am involved with raising $4MM for the project renovation of the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center, located in our Clarksburg, West Virginia community, in the hopes that it will inspire and inform other people who want to support the charities they love.
Start With Your Passion
I’ll start off by saying that my interest in helping this charity was very sincere. It was based on a genuine desire to support the youth in our community. As a father of three children, I think it’s important for all young ones to be exposed to cultural institutions that enrich their lives and inspire them.
I wanted the children of Harrison County and the City of Clarksburg to know that there are options to aspire to in the hopes that it will keep them off the streets. Cultural institutions like this also provide a venue for children to develop their minds the right way. As adults we often overlook how impressionable young people’s minds really are. I saw this as a way to make sure that the children in our world have the right nourishing elements to make them develop correctly.
I know growing up that I certainly can recall times when my life was enriched and my perspective was opened by fine establishments such as these. My goal was to make it so that others could have the same experience.
Know Thy Purpose
Not everyone has a good experience giving to charity and it’s because unfortunately some of the unsavory few have decided to take advantage of people’s generosity. But before participating in any fundraising, I made sure that the purpose of the funds was understood and clearly disclosed.
As a wealth advisor in our community here in West Virginia, I would recommend that anyone who is going to dedicate serious time or money to any charity do the same. You can see on the Robinson Grand website that they’ve been totally transparent about their plans for the project. That helped motivate me; knowing the “why” behind what you are doing always does.
In this case, the plan was to turn the almost 100 year old theater into a modern day performing arts center. The soft opening is scheduled for June 2018 and the theater is expected to be in full swing by the fall of 2018.
Big accomplishments require many hands to make the work light. There are several people that I am working with, going out to businesses we know and talking to them about what we are trying to do. I think it helps inspire people to see that there are so many of us who are onboard with the project and supporting it.
Not only does it make the work easier, it also makes it fun! There are many memories I will take with me from this experience.
In particular, I have to thank my teammates Michael and Denah D’Annunzio, Ben and Jeanie Hardesty, Marcia and Steve Boughton, Woody Thrasher, Bob and Becky Steptoe, Pat and Alison Deem, Cathy and Rick Goings, Doloris Yoke, Joe and Annabel Timms, Andy and Lisa Lang, Phil and Renee Wyatt.
Other Ways to Support our West Virginia Community
While decades as a business owner have made me equipped to go out and fundraise, I know that not everybody has the same passion. So here I’ll describe some other ways that people can leave a legacy to charity. There are several options.
If you want to make a direct contribution, you can make a one-time contribution to the Cultural Foundation of Harrison County or you can make a commitment to give over a period of 5 years, e.g. $30,000 total contributed in installments of $500 a month for 60 months. This can be given as an individual, or for business owners it can be an act of corporate philanthropy. While I’m not a tax advisor I can tell you that very often this kind of charitable contribution can earn a tax deduction – but I’d check with your accountant to be sure.
The limitation is you may only be eligible for itemized deductions for charitable contributions. This may be up to a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income.
Highly appreciated securities (usually stocks or bonds) may be good candidates to give to charity during your lifetime. In addition to the income tax deduction, you bypass the capital gains tax that would be owed if you cashed them in yourself.
One of the most overlooked ways to leave a charitable legacy is to take out a cash value (permanent or whole life) insurance policy on yourself with the charity as the beneficiary. Using an insurance policy with the charity as a beneficiary can be a quadruple benefit if a person qualifies. If it is structured properly, the annual insurance premiums can be considered annual charitable giving, so that you get the tax benefit each year.
The insurance policy bypasses the estate, and is paid directly to the charity. This avoids estate battles over the funds. In other words, the proceeds avoid probate because they aren’t included as part of the estate.
If you are in reasonable health for your age (even if you are 75 or 80 years old), the rate of return on the insurance can be much higher than other options. This is because the money is tax sheltered.
Growing your West Virginia Business
Business is often viewed as a tool of capitalism and not philanthropy. While it’s true that most businesses have profits as the ultimate goal (and they need to in order to survive!) it doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing great things for other people in the process.
For example, my business is based in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Not only do I provide valuable advice that helps the members of our community preserve their wealth (which, if you think about it, helps protect our county’s financial solvency), I also employ people from the area.
In addition, my business makes contributions to several local charities: the swim team, a local fitness organization for at risk youth, and our local Immaculate Conception Parish, to name a few. In other words, even if your business doesn’t have a charity goal as its foremost priority, there are several ways that you can help your neighbors in the process of doing what you do.
There are so many ways your business can give back to causes you appreciate. For example, in March of 2018, I supported National Women’s History Month by giving away my book and a dinner gift certificate to a successful female entrepreneur.
Don’t hesitate to start your own business if you feel the urge! You never know who you can help. And if you need advice, just download a free copy of my book Masters of Success from my website.
Summary on Giving
According to the San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, charity is important to him “Because we're rich as &*@#, and we don't need it all, and other people need it” (Wright, 2017).
The motivation is simple -- giving comes from the heart. People who give more tend to enjoy life more, whether it be through fundraising, donation, or improving your local economy through a successful business.
Wright, Michael C. (27 Dec, 2017). Spurs' Gregg Popovich: 'Pretty simple' why I prioritize charity work. ESPN.com. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21888028/san-antonio-spurs-coach-gregg-popovich-says-charitable-endeavors-important-rich-hell-need-all
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