Open letter from the President and CEO of the Foundation of Greater Montréal, Karel Mayrand.

Why talk about planned giving? Our country is currently in the midst of the greatest transfer of wealth in its history. As baby-boomers pass on their legacies to the next generations all across Canada, personal assets estimated at 1 trillion dollars have or will have changed hands between 2016 and 2026, including 700 billion dollars in financial assets. Over the next few years, this transfer of wealth will gather even more momentum. For the generation that shaped the society we live in today, the question then becomes: how could this legacy best contribute to building the communities of tomorrow?

At this time, according to the Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP), only 5% of Canadians are using their wills to plan gifts to charitable organizations. If things keep up at the current pace, assuming an average planned gift of $35,000, we would be looking at about 525 million dollars per year allocated to philanthropic causes through this vehicle. That is a healthy amount, and obviously there is nothing wrong with setting aside the bulk of one’s wealth for transfer to their family or loved ones. But just think of the significant lever for social, environmental, and regional development that could be deployed in Canada if that amount was to be doubled, or even tripled. That is why the CAGP recently launched its Will Power campaign, in order to demystify the planned gift, which is a powerful but still little-known philanthropic tool.

When considering their wills, most people think of their children and grandchildren first, and rightly so. Few individuals contemplate including gifts to charitable organizations, because they feel doing so would be to carve into the legacy destined for their families. But what if you could do both? In fact, you can: you can make a planned gift, which will have little to no impact on the estate that is passed on, since the tax credit on the donation can be transferred to the succession. Every case is different, and you’ll need a professional advisor to guide you through the intricacies of our tax system. But in any case, the positive impact on your community will be significant.

Supporting your community as well as your loved ones

By planning a gift to a charitable organization or a cause close to your heart – it just takes a simple clause in your will – you can ensure that part of your estate is reinvested in your community, and contributes to its development as well as to the well-being of future generations. Whether you choose to support a cultural organization that strikes a chord with you, the hospital that cared for your parents, the school or sports club where your kids grew up or a foundation that is fighting to protect land or bodies of water you care about, you can use your wealth to bolster the causes that matter the most to you, and have an impact that lasts long after your departure.

The baby-boomers are the first cohort of Canadians to be in a position to leave a major financial legacy to the next generation in such numbers, and in doing so help keep alive the dynamism, the passion for justice, the solidarity and the love for our culture that made our communities what they are today. By offering part of its legacy to the institutions and organizations that work towards the development and well-being of these communities – in other words, by thinking not only of their own children, but also of the kind of society their children will grow up in – this generation can strengthen our social fabric and help building the future for generations to come.