Leaving a Legacy: 7 Ways to Leverage Your Success for Good
You’ve been blessed with success, and you’re not shy about admitting it. In fact, you’re ready to use your good fortune for, well, good. You’re ready to leave a legacy.
Even if you feel like you have plenty left to give in the material world, it’s never too early to start thinking about what you’ll leave behind. You have many options, both now and in the future. Here are seven to consider right now
1. Launch a Purpose-Driven Nonprofit
It’s a lot of work, but launching your own nonprofit is an amazing way to make an immediate impact on the lives of others in your community. It allows for a more personal approach than simply cutting a check to or volunteering with an existing organization, even if their mission closely aligns with yours.
Many successful entrepreneurs have taken this route. Entrepreneur and investor Steve Streit, who founded Patti’s Way in honor of his mother’s tendency to bestow “random acts of kindness” on others, is one example. Craigslist namesake Craig Newmark, who launched the Craig Newmark Foundation and Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund to support a variety of charitable and social entrepreneurship endeavors, is another.
2. Set Up a Donor-Advised Fund
If the idea of starting (and maybe running) your own charity sounds daunting, consider a donor-advised fund instead. A donor-advised fund allows you to “pick your spots” when it comes to the charities you support without asking you to do a lot of hands-on work. It’s the best of both worlds: more impact than donating to individual charities while sticking it out at your day job.
3. Donate When You Declutter
Success often brings stuff. You probably have a lot of it sitting around in storage, waiting for a better home. Or maybe you’re approaching retirement and ready to downsize to a smaller house.
Whatever the reason, you definitely shouldn’t junk all that stuff, and you should think twice about selling it. Donating to purpose-driven charities that put it to direct use — like Goodwill for old clothing and home goods, and Habitat for Humanity for furniture and construction materials — is a much better approach. Don’t forget to confirm that your favored organizations will accept your donations — here’s an example of Goodwill’s donation guidelines.
4. Transition Your Business to B-Corp Status
Don’t have time to donate? Still building your business? Maximize your impact in the for-profit world by transitioning your company away from the traditional “single bottom line” and getting it certified as a benefit corporation (B-Corp).
B-Corps follow a “triple bottom line” that includes financial profit, people, and planet. They’re more just and sustainable than regular-old for-profit companies. That’s good for everyone involved — and a great way for growing businesses to stand out from the crowd.
5. Mentor the Next Generation
If you’re at the point in your career where you feel like you have more to give than to learn, you’re ready to become a mentor. Mentorship opportunities often arise naturally — maybe you already mentor high performers working under you — but intentionally seeking them out can magnify your influence while helping capable entrepreneurs and professionals with limited resources who might otherwise miss out. Look for opportunities with professional associations and charities that focus mentorship on these hard-to-reach individuals.
6. Donate Your Time to the Less Fortunate
Mentorship is only one of many types of time donation. If you have an hour or two to spare each week, or a day each month, look for other places to spend your time and talent. Many organizations are in constant need of volunteers who can perform a variety of physical and clerical tasks; you’re sure to find a few near you.
7. Don’t Give It All to Your Kids
Maybe don’t cut your kids out of your will altogether, but do think about how much they really need from you. Chances are, they can do with less than you think.
As for the surplus, look into legacy giving programs. These let you bequeath a portion of your estate to causes you also supported during your life or are just getting around to supporting now. Talk about a unique opportunity to make a lasting impact.
Make Your Mark on Tomorrow
You’ve already made your mark on the world today. Now you’re ready to start thinking about the legacy you’ll leave for tomorrow, and tomorrows to come.
Many successful individuals and families use all seven of these strategies. They launch purpose-driven nonprofits or donor-advised funds, transform their for-profit-only businesses into benefit corporations, mentor the next generation of makers and doers, donate their time and talents to the less fortunate, and use legacy-giving programs to make the world a better place.
The choice is yours. Your legacy awaits.