May 25, 2018
Maximizing the impact of your legacy doesn’t happen accidentally. It takes a lot of hard work. Think about those who left the greatest legacies. Many spent the majority of their lives sharing their values and beliefs with others, sometimes at the expense of other facets of their lives. While we believe in a balanced life, we also think your legacy needs a place at the table.
First and foremost, give your legacy the attention it deserves. It’s going to be how people remember you, or perhaps whether they’ll remember you, 20 years from now. Will your great-grandchildren know the measure of the man or woman you were and how you helped to make them into the people they are today? Or will you be just another name on a family tree turned in as part of a high school report? What do you want it to be?
Here are six steps to help you leave a long-lasting effect on what matters to you most.
What is the legacy you wish to leave? To get started, read my previous fathom article, “3 Questions to Define Your Legacy.” Then try to narrow the focus down to one firm mission statement that carries you through all your endeavors. The mission statement should articulate your goals or philosophies in a short paragraph. It should be broad enough to encompass all you wish to accomplish, yet narrow enough to hone in on the areas you wish to impact.
Don’t keep it a secret, be loud and proud. Let your family and friends know what you want your legacy to be. Tell them why you think the cause is important and why they should support you and your mission.
Leaving a meaningful legacy means living and breathing it every day. Your legacy is something you’re passionate about, and it should influence who you are and how you live your life daily.
The legacies we wish to leave must be supported. This support can come in several forms. The first is financial. For example, if you’re trying to help people live longer, healthier and more meaningful lives by being free of lung cancer, then monetary donations can support research, fund anti-smoking advertising campaigns and smoking cessation programs, and provide medical treatment for people living with the disease.
For those with the financial means, there are tools that can help facilitate the gifts to support your legacy and may also provide tax benefits. Some commonly used vehicles are donor advised funds, private foundations and charitable trusts.
These strategies also offer advantageous tax breaks, which ultimately means more money available to support the endeavor. However, when tax savings are not a concern, or if a donor wishes to give to organizations that are not qualified public charities, then discuss alternative methods with your wealth advisor.
Giving your time is also very important, regardless of whether you have ample financial resources. There are so many ways to help and connect with people and impact their lives in a meaningful way:
Help others see the light and why they should support your mission. The most impactful legacies are left by those with a relentless drive to educate others about their values and beliefs. The passion you feel for your cause makes it easy for you to talk about it and encourage others to adopt it.
This is an opportunity to leverage your social network for good. In a networking model, each person attempts to bring on people to support the product, cause or organization. If you recruit 10 people, and those people each recruit 10 more, you’ll go from having one person supporting a cause to 111! This method of building organizations has proven to be successful for thousands of years.
While this might also fall under Share it and Grow it, it’s worthwhile to set aside time to assess and celebrate the legacy you seek to leave. What better way to raise awareness than to bring people together, affirm the core values and beliefs of your legacy, share your goals and progress toward those goals, and recruit their assistance.
Doing this will hold you accountable for your legacy, helping you focus on what you’re trying to accomplish. It is also a great way to bring together the people you love and care about to support a good cause. The gathering should be fun and done in such a way that people look forward to it! Celebrations can occur with any frequency you desire, and while anything more than annually may be too frequent, there’s no reason you couldn’t celebrate every second, third or fifth year.
As with anything we feel strongly about, maximizing the impact of your legacy takes careful consideration, planning and effort. Simply by reading this article, you’re probably thinking deeper about the legacy you wish to leave. And by following these six action steps, you’ll be well on your way to achieving it.
(Watch Session 1 of our three-part webinar workshop, “Taking Your Philanthropy to the Next Level,” to learn more about how to find the mission in your philanthropy.)
Want the latest wealth management tips, investment insights and Aspiriant news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for regular Fathom updates so we can send you the most relevant content you selected below.