Giving Some Back: Is Philanthropy Only for Millionaires?

By Matt Torney

You don’t have to be Gina Rinehart or Gerry Harvey to be a philanthropist. In fact, philanthropy can be a strong consideration for anyone headed for retirement, particularly as you transition from work which may have provided you with significant meaning and purpose for a few decades. And remember, donations are tax-deductible when given to an approved charity.

But what if you really can’t afford it right now?

Well, even if you don’t have much spare change, you might consider allocating money in your will for your favourite charity. That way, you can pass on a gift when you no longer need your savings.

Other Ways to Give

Although philanthropy is categorised as donating money, the true meaning of the word is “the desire to promote the welfare of others”. Here are some other ways you can contribute without making financial donations.

  • Volunteer your time for something you believe in
  • Help an elderly neighbour by running errands for them
  • Visit isolated members of your community

Or just be fully present the next time you chat with a stranger or catch up with a friend. The greatest gift we can give sometimes is our undivided attention to someone else without reaching for our smartphones.

Mental Health Benefits

Some might consider all this giving stuff a bit ‘woo-woo’. We can tell you that is not the case though. Altruistic giving of yourself or your resources has long been acknowledged as having beneficial health effects.[1]

When you are distressed, mentally unwell or psychologically at risk, there can be a great tendency to fold inward and become self-focused. We understand. Life can be really challenging at times, particularly during a global pandemic. It’s not that we don’t care about others, it’s just the worries and sadness for ourselves and our own lives can grow so big in comparison.

A way to help undo that pattern is to focus on others though. Focusing on others can help you get out of your own head and build a sense of connection. It is very therapeutic. In fact, multiple studies have identified ‘connectedness’ as a key component needed for recovery from mental ill-health. But it works well for everyone, no matter what headspace you’re in.

Given the benefits, if donating money to charity is something you’ve never considered before then now might be the time.


A Worthy Cause in Your Local Area

If you have no idea where to start when it comes to giving, then perhaps consider the Philanthropy 500 (P500) collective giving group in Geelong. Many of our clients are from Geelong and the surrounding area so this charity could be a great way to give back to your local community.

Their strategy (for which Muirfield Financial Services helped develop) is to make one primary grant each year and to grow an endowment fund collectively.

For example, a $500 donation made by 200 people (current goal) is pooled to create $100,000 for the community. $50,000 is allocated to fund a high-impact grant for a local community organisation and $50,000 is invested in the P500 Endowment Fund.

Interest from the Endowment Fund is added to the P500 grant each year and all donations are 100% tax-deductible.

As a $500 donor, you also get to vote on which community organisation receives the annual grant.

In 2020, 174 donors contributed $500 each to allow for a grant of $46,000. The money was granted to ‘Feed Me Bellarine’ to develop and expand their ‘Feed Me Geelong’ program. The grant supported the organisation’s growth, extending their program from Ocean Grove and the Surf Coast to Geelong.

Feed Me Bellarine’s mission is to get every hospitality and food outlet on the Bellarine Peninsula, Geelong, and Surf Coast on a food waste movement.  Since March 2020, Feed Me Bellarine has provided +100,000 meals to the community using food rescued from the region.

Donating is easy, and can be done online in a few clicks:

Choose Wisely

The P500 program is a great way to provide a lasting gift to our community. The world is most certainly your oyster when it comes to finding and donating to the charity of your choice.

Just know that even the smallest donation can make a huge difference for your local community or charity of choice. It’s not about millions of dollars. It’s about dollars and sense.

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