Expert Advice: Donations and Estate Planning

Wealth management expert Mike Skrypnek’s advice on charitable donations

Illustration by Jennifer Madole

There are many ways for individuals to create meaningful impact and leave a lasting legacy. Making a charitable donation in your will is one way to include the Alberta Cancer Foundation as one of your priority causes.

Mike Skrypnek, director of wealth management at Richardson GMP, and author of the book Philanthropy; An Inspired Process, has plenty of knowledge to share about incorporating non-profit donations into your estate planning.

Q: What is the best way to donate?

There are factors Skrypnek advises donors to always think about. For instance, donating a percentage of your estate is more appropriate than a dollar amount just in case your estate is somehow devalued. As well, disclosing your identity and donation soon after making estate plans is helpful to set an example and keep loved ones informed. It’s also useful for the recipient organization to know its efforts to encourage planned giving are working. “The next best option, and this gives maximum flexibility, is to consider a donor- advised fund. A donor-advised fund is essentially a private, personal foundation,” Skrypnek says. “It’s as simple as naming that donor-advised fund controlled by you or your family members as the beneficiary of a gift in your will. And then it would disperse the funds to the named charities list.”

Alternatively, Skrypnek suggests adding a beneficiary to your registered plan, which is a more direct way to give. You can also name a charity as a beneficiary to a portion of your RRSP or a beneficiary of an insurance policy. This reduces costs and creates a tax credit.

“These giving options create direction and direct connectivity to the charitable gift. [This] creates an immediate tax benefit for the estate and will go outside of the estate itself. So it is not included in the assets that are calculated for various costs like executive fees or probate fees.”

Q: How can I plan my estate to donate funds to cancer research organizations?

Skrypnek says the first step someone interested in legacy giving needs to take is to create a will. “You need to engage and start working with a trust lawyer or a will and estates lawyer,” Skrypnek says. “At the same time, [you should] engage with some form of advisor, either financial or accountant, in a planning process, so you understand your financial picture going forward and how that affects your ability to give.”

Q: How do I find the right charity to donate to?

Skrypnek suggests identifying the charity you’d like to donate to through the Canada Revenue Agency’s website listing of charities.

“It’s the most robust database of information. And that in particular will allow you to select which charity and identify the charity number. It has to be a registered charity in Canada in order to gain the tax credit for the gift, but also to ensure that you’re gifting to the right organization. A lot of organizations may have certain names, but the actual charity name and number may be slightly different.”

Three Other Ways to Give Back to the Alberta Cancer Foundation Today

1. Donate Directly Online

Visit and click on the “general donation” button to donate now.

2. Give Monthly

Sign up on to make monthly donations. You can make a big impact for as little as 27 cents a day.

3. Buy Tickets to the Cash and Cars Lottery

Visit for a chance to win big prizes and make a difference for Albertans facing cancer.

Related Posts