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Laying the foundation for your legacy

The BC Women’s Hospital + Health Foundation is dedicated to supporting the health needs of women and babies throughout our province

Vancouver Foundation fund holder Monty Jang rests on the Vancouver Seawall park bench that he donated

The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch depends on heroic organ donors to help children, like Hailey-Ann, who are in need of a transplant

(L-R) Bob Stewart, Variety director and past president; Bill Senghera, Variety past president; Kristy Gill, Variety executive director; Danielle Brisebois (Sunshine Family Van recipient); Howard Blank, Variety president

The new Ronald McDonald House BC and Yukon, which opened on July 7, 2014, serves 2,000 families each year

For over 30 years Ronald McDonald House BC has provided a place for seriously ill children and their families

The impact of Innerchange Foundation’s Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness is captured through a powerful and insightful film titled “SALOME”

How you choose to be remembered can be a difficult decision, so now’s the time to start exploring the ways in which you can leave a lasting impact on your community and on the lives of others

What will your legacy be? What will you leave behind that will allow others to share your story, your values, your lasting gift? Lay the foundation now for a future story with a happy ending, one that might be told for generations to come.

Leaving a legacy requires some careful thought now, with many worthy causes, and options ranging from one-time gifts to perpetual donations to investment income. Fortunately, help is readily available, through professionals who specialize in estate planning, and the simplicity of giving programs created by charitable organizations across B.C.

Heartfelt legacy

“Your legacy is a reflection of your values. The organization, or cause, that you choose for your legacy will reflect those values in a meaningful way,” says James Carruthers, senior director of development with BC Women’s Hospital + Health Foundation.

BC Women’s Hospital + Health Foundation supports women and babies across the province, which in turn supports the growth and development of healthy families in our own communities. The Foundation supports the hospital’s need for the evolving technology and specialized equipment required to properly care for its patients and their families.

Carruthers believes that meaningful giving is possible when there is an “alignment of heart.” It is often said that the best gifts are those that come from the heart, and that includes bequeathed gifts that have been thoughtfully—and confidently—chosen. Preparing ahead through estate planning ensures these heartfelt gestures become legacy gifts.

“Selecting a charity or organization to give money to, whether in life or death, should be a comfortable and confident decision,” says Carruthers. “Donors must feel the recipient will treat the gift with the best possible advantage. Choosing a charity with your heart keeps that decision simple. Beyond that, it’s just technical.”

The fine print

The technical process to create one’s legacy through a charitable gift is easily handled by legal professionals who are skilled in charitable giving and estate planning. Miller Thomson LLP is a national law firm with a specialized focus on both private client planning and charities.

“We’re seeing more interest from our clients in donor opportunities for hands-on philanthropy; the social impact of charitable giving is increasingly important to donors,” says Sandra Enticknap, partner who heads Miller Thomson LLP’s Vancouver office.” Additionally, governments are becoming more interested in outcomes, rather than just funding.” 

Miller Thomson has recently branded its charities practice as its Social Impact Group to more properly reflect its focus. The Group serves clients in conjunction with other professional groups. The firm is well connected with advisors throughout the charitable sector, and works with accountants and financial professionals along with other advisors. 

“Working with a legal advisor who is well-versed in charitable giving and private client planning is essential to ensure your goals are achieved in the best way, and therefore, with largest impact for the recipients,” says Enticknap, whose firm also supports community foundations, including the Vancouver Foundation, through its own private foundation. “We work with clients through various options and set up charitable gifts in wills, through trusts, as well as consulting on donor-advised funds and through private foundations for ongoing revenue generation.”

As an alternative to a private foundation, a donor-advised fund can be established through a community foundation. Vancouver Foundation is the largest community foundation in Canada, and alongside its work supporting charities and causes, it also assists individuals with setting up their own endowment fund.

“A donor-advised fund is available for people who wish to create a legacy through their own personally named endowment fund. This type of fund is basically an ‘easy button’ to create income in perpetuity to support a chosen cause,” says Kevin McCort, president and CEO of Vancouver Foundation. “For those who wonder how they could ever have their own private foundation, a donor-advised fund is the way to go.”

McCort outlines the beautiful simplicity of a donor advised fund: it can be started with as little as $1,000, and once a fund reaches $10,000, its income is available for granting. The fund holder has control where grants are directed, and has other options, such as donating anonymously, choosing specific charities or selecting a specific area of interest, such as arts and culture or  the environment.
Vancouver Foundation currently has 1,700 endowment funds, with about 100 new funds created each year. The funds are purposely designed to be accessible to a diverse population, and donations may be made through many avenues: cash, appreciated securities, proceeds of insurance policies and other means.

“People want to know what it costs, and we keep fees transparent and low. A fee of 1.15 per cent of the total endowment value is charged for investment management and endowment management combined,” says McCort. “When a fund reaches $10 million, the fee is dropped to 0.8 per cent. For the money, fund holders receive the proven results of well-managed funds, available grant money and building capital for the future.”

In sickness and in health

Making a direct impact on the life of another person, or several people, is a gift for both a donor and a benefactor. Foundations in health care and research have the ability to touch the lives of our families, communities and even ourselves, should we encounter health issues in the near or distant future. The Burnaby Hospital Foundation supports the work of Burnaby Hospital through direct purchase of health care equipment and related technology.

“The demands on our health care system are endless, and a single source of funding is challenged to meet a hospital’s needs. Technology continues to evolve, specialized equipment becomes available and the health care needs of our population are increasingly complex,” says Cheryl Carline, president and CEO of the Burnaby Hospital Foundation. “We work with our hospital’s administration to identify emerging and/or urgent needs to support the good care at our hospital.”

The Foundation is able to put a price tag on some of the bigger-ticket equipment, which can inspire a donor to bequeath a set amount or raise funds to an end goal. Current needs include a $150,000 radiographic unit for medical imaging and five ECG units for Cardiology, for $125,000. Since 2002, the Foundation has worked with donors to provide almost half of the costs of the hospital’s medical equipment.

The immediate impact of paying utility bills might not be as evident as a piece of life-saving machinery, but Richard Pass, CEO of Ronald McDonald House BC (RMHBC), believes in the power of supporting an organization’s very foundation.

“Planned giving keeps our doors open, and the lights on, for Ronald McDonald House BC. We exist to serve the families that come through our doors, and we need to keep that light on for them to provide hope and healing,” says Pass. “The need for housing near families’ sick children continues to grow, and due to evolving treatments for children, stays have become longer.”

RMHBC provides a temporary home for families who have a child at BC Children’s Hospital or Surrey Memorial Hospital, who may hail from anywhere across the province. Keeping families together, without the additional burden of hotel costs, is healthier for family members, and provides the vital support needed by children for healing.

Support is a key concept for RMHBC, with families meeting and supporting each other as well as feeling supported by the homelike environment. Financial support through charitable donations is how the homes’ doors continue to open and welcome families through some very challenging and emotional circumstances.

A sick family member has an impact on the whole house, and kidney disease doesn’t discriminate across generations. People of all ages, including the smallest children, can be affected, with one in 10 Canadians affected, and many unaware.  A kidney transplant is a kidney patient’s best hope at survival; sadly many kidney patients die waiting for a transplant. The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch exists to prevent kidney disease, or delay the onset. They also provide unique programs and support services for kidney patients who have chronic kidney disease, or are on dialysis.

“Our mission is to find a cure and help people suffering from kidney disease, like little Hailey-Ann. Hailey-Ann was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease while her mom was pregnant with her. Her kidneys are much larger than most grown men and are covered in cysts. It’s only a matter of time before Hailey-Ann will need a transplant,” says Naomi Low, senior development officer.

The goal of the Foundation’s current Saving Lives through Organ Donation campaign is to increase the amount of people registered as organ donors from 20 per cent to 50 per cent within five years to ensure kids like Hailey-Ann will receive a kidney when needed.

Wheely great news for families

This year marks the Golden Anniversary of Variety — The Children’s Charity of BC, and they are set to deliver a triple-great gift to deserving families across the province. 50 Sunshine Family Vans, which are fully wheelchair accessible and worth $50,000 each, will be gifted in celebration of 50 years of service. This is a tremendously valuable gift for the receiving families, as buying an adapted vehicle can be financially out of reach, considering all the other costs related to equipment and treatments or therapies for children with mobility challenges.

It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child, and when the child has special needs, even the village needs a boost. The emotional struggle is compounded by financial costs of specialized equipment and programs, and the challenge to balance a job with medical appointments, therapies and hospital stays. That’s where Variety BC steps in.

“We fund families directly, and we rely on the generosity of our donors to support our mission to help all children who are living with challenges, whether physical, developmental, mental health or socio-economic,” says Kristy Gill, executive director of the BC charity. “Whether for therapy, supplies, education, inclusive social opportunities­—we help when families don’t have the means to provide what their child needs.”

Currently, Variety is looking for passionate professionals in law, estate finance and investments to join their Planned Giving Committee to help educate British Columbians about the Variety Legacy Circle program, ensuring that donor’s estate gifts are directed in the best, most impactful ways.

“Serving on the Planned Giving Committee is a wonderful honour. It helps our generous donors leave a legacy that could give kids with special needs back their childhood,” says Gill. “That’s what Variety is about. We step in when families are struggling for a solution, and with the ongoing support of our donors, we are able to help.”

Support for our future

Big leaps forward are propelled by great momentum and strength. Prostate Cancer Canada isn’t satisfied with standard therapy for prostate cancer, and looking to new drugs for improved patient outcomes. Currently, men with advanced prostate cancer have a poor survival rate.

“At the Vancouver Prostate Centre, a very experienced team is working to develop a new range of drugs with potential for cure, rather than prolong life,” says Dr. Stuart Edmonds, vice president research, health promotion and survivorship. “We’re very hopeful to get to the clinical trials stage of development soon.”

Financial gifts to the Western Region will support novel development of the new drugs, with great hope of eventually halting this cancer that also takes an emotional toll on patients’ partners. Current treatment comes with physical consequences, even in the early stages of the disease.

Innovation is a key element of addressing chronic issues: a fresh take on what seems a stalemate of a problem, when the status quo isn’t working. The InnerChange Foundation (ICF) provides leadership, funding and advocacy to put current and effective services into place for people who struggle from addiction and related mental health challenges.

“Our organization is committed to making a change, and enabling new practice and research to break the cycle for people struggling with addiction. We give people access to something new, and hope for recovery and new life,” says Dr. Laura Tate, executive director of the Foundation. “For example, Crosstown Medical Clinic led a four-year study on the effectiveness of using hydromorphone for chronic opioid addiction—something which had not been done before in North America. The study showed that a legal drug used in a new way could help people and make treatment more accessible for those with chronic addictions.”

ICF is a partner in the BC Integrated Youth Services Initiative, which will develop five youth centres with a centralized support model, including health and social supports. Providing $1.5 million of the $7.5 million budget, ICF commits to donors to provide 100 per cent of funds raised directly to the initiative. With its “addiction lens” on the centres’ development, ICF helps donors ensure addiction issues are not overlooked, and provides relevant updates.

With the future or our planet in the next generation’s hands, making improvements on what we’re passing to them seems a natural legacy. The BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) is the province’s largest and oldest conservation organization, and celebrates 60 years of protecting, enhancing and promoting the wise use of the environment. 50,000 members strong, the organization relies on members, volunteers and donors to encourage a conservation ethic in all British Columbians.

“Gifts made to the BCWF go directly to our conservation programs and initiatives,” says Cheryl Johnson, director of operations. “We have a variety of planned giving programs to help our donors direct gifts and create their own conservation legacy. We’re unique in that we deliver hands-on experiences and education in habitat restoration and rehabilitation. Our programs are for all ages but we are especially proud to work directly with youth to teach them the importance of conservation through our Wild Kidz Camps and Go Wild, Youth for Conservation program.”

The BCWF is inclusive in getting people excited about connecting with nature while sustaining the environment. Programs include Fishing Forever, with specially built accessible docks for people with mobility challenges, and BOW (Becoming an Outdoors Woman), which offers women-only weekend getaways to learn outdoors skills and wilderness survival techniques in a fun, relaxed environment.

What will your legacy be?

Will your legacy be unveiled through an organization’s research, or by putting a smile—or a hundred smiles—on a child’s face? You direct your legacy, for it is what you leave behind, for others to remember you, appreciate you and tell your story.

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