If you’ve got a question about investing your money, there aren’t many people more qualified to provide an answer than Angus Watt, and the same goes for investing in your community.
With more than 30 years working in Edmonton’s financial sector and a history of philanthropy behind him, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that Watt is involved in planned giving through the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
Watt, the managing director of the Angus Watt Advisory Group, says planned giving is vital to the longevity of charities because, while they all need money today, they also have to be able to sustain themselves over the long term.
“Planned giving is where you’ve taken some time, you’ve thought about setting priorities for your charities that you want to support today and in the future,” Watt says. He says that you can participate in making a charity well-funded by buying a life insurance policy and naming the charity as a beneficiary. “So when you move on – because we all have death and taxes – there’s an advantage to your estate,” Watt says, “but, most importantly, there’s an advantage to your community.”
Derek Michael, a gift planning specialist with the Alberta Cancer Foundation, says that planned giving is an opportunity for people to contribute much more to a charity than they would otherwise be able to.
“I think that’s really the impetus or the catalyst for people wanting to make this type of a gift,” says Michael. “It is an opportunity to say ‘I want to make a significant difference and I know that, when I’m no longer here, I am still helping a cause in a community.’ ”
The Alberta Cancer Foundation allows people to get specific with their donations, directing their money as they see fit, to make it as meaningful an experience as possible. It allows people to make a difference in an area of cancer research and treatment that is important to them, whether that means donating for the research and care for a certain type of cancer or a specific cancer centre.
While it’s an option available to many, Watt says it’s generally “planners” who become involved.
“They’re people who plan – they plan their vacation, they plan for their retirement, they are conscientious about their health,” says Watt. “They’re people who know that if you have a plan, things will get achieved, and if you don’t have a plan, then you hope.”
Watt says money donated to the Alberta Cancer Foundation goes right back into the community, and the foundation has a strong focus on local research, which attracts top doctors, allows for cutting-edge medical equipment to be purchased and makes for a better understanding of the disease.
“We’ve had a special focus on breast cancer and we’ve participated in a number of activities and raised a fair amount of money over the years for research and development,” Watt says. His wife, Alberta Cancer Foundation trustee Heather Watt, is a former breast cancer patient. “We’ve been very pleased in our conversations with the doctors and the researchers here in Alberta.”
Another thing that led Watt to take the planned giving route is the concept that if, as a financial planning expert, he doesn’t participate, he won’t know the experience his clients go through.
“I was very pleased with the response I got from the Alberta Cancer Foundation,” says Watt. “They were professional about it and it was an easy process, and that’s one of the things that I wanted to experience for myself – to see whether it was a pleasant experience or whether it was a bureaucratic experience, which I would hate.”
“It turned out to be a very pleasant experience and it was simple.”
How to approach planned giving
Thinking about planned giving as an option? The Alberta Cancer Foundation is holding an event on May 7, 2013 to help you make an informed decision.
Investors Group Financial Services senior executive financial consultant Girish Agrawal will be speaking about financial planning concepts, how the planned giving process works and answering questions from those in attendance.
“Through this event, the plan is to help people understand how they can achieve or do what they want to do in their life,” Agrawal says. “If we can help even a few more people donate more without compromising their own financial security, we’ll just bring more benefit to the community and, as such, to Canada.”
Agrawal says everyone wants to do something for the community in one way or another, but people don’t always know exactly how to reach those goals. He says planned giving is a great way for you to leave a lasting legacy and he’s happy to show you how to do it.