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Spotlight on philanthropy:  Finding your ‘why’ with special guest Shelley Hoss Thumbnail

Spotlight on philanthropy: Finding your ‘why’ with special guest Shelley Hoss

Giving. It’s a simple concept. That all changes, however, when it’s time to choose how to give, when to give, and why to give. To help, we invited Shelley Hoss, president of the Orange County Community Foundation, one of Orange County's most prominent philanthropic organizations, to share her insights at a great Lunch & Learn session last week.

Shelley kicked off the session by asking each person in the room what they hoped to learn in the next 90 minutes. The answers were as varied as the attendees, and the questions were as thoughtful as the topic itself. In Shelley’s words, “Wow! This is definitely the advanced class!” 

  • Maureen was looking for answers about how people view money, including why they give—and why they don’t
  • Miles hoped for some clarity on how he could create the greatest impact with each donation. 
  • Emily contributes to a Donor Advised Fund each year, but she wanted to know how to maximize the value of her gifts, as well as how social entrepreneurship can fit into the picture. 
  • Robin wanted to know how to gain more personal satisfaction from giving by developing closer, more personal relationships with the organizations she supports. 
  • Rella asked how she can know that her dollars are directly supporting the people who need it, rather than the bureaucracy of the charitable organization. 

And that’s just a sample! There were many questions, and though time was limited, Shelley (supported by her great team from OCCF!) covered a lot of ground. Here were her key points:

  1. Find your passion.
    People give to causes that inspire them to make a change. The first step toward that goal is to find your passion. Shelley shared stories of individuals and families who have done precisely that. By combining passion and giving, these people have enacted powerful change.

     When Dr. Pamela Lawrence-Horowitz was practicing internal medicine and serving as a volunteer physician at the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, she recognized a group that was tragically underserved: service men and women who were not receiving the support they needed after being discharged from the armed forces. She focused her charitable efforts on that single cause, working with OCCF to form the OC Veterans Initiative. Since those humble beginnings, the initiative’s scope has grown significantly to provide greater access to the medical and mental healthcare our veterans need to return to civilian life. By finding her passion, Dr. Pam has used her resources to create an important and lasting change.

    Of course, there are a multitude of reasons to give. Relational giving—when a friend or colleague asks you to support a cause that matters to them—can be important to some, while reducing taxes inspires others to take personal control of their dollars so they can actively choose where their assets are directed. However, Shelley pointed out that in an ideal world, the majority of your giving, about 90%, should be supporting your passion—whatever that may be.

  2. Build your team.
    When it comes to giving, women play a vital role. According to U.S. Trust, over the next decade, women will manage up to 80% of the wealth in the US (yay us!). At the same time, women are nearly twice as likely to say that giving to charity is the most satisfying aspect of having wealth. Another thing that sets women apart is that we are more satisfied with higher-touch giving—we want to know the people we’re supporting, not just the idea. Plus, we love working together as a team. We look to the people around us for inspiration and to bring value to our lives.

    If that’s you, a Giving Circle may be a great way to support your own giving strategy. While a Giving Circle can be defined however you choose, many are groups of like-minded people who want to increase the impact of their charitable dollars. Often using a Donor Advised Fund, a Giving Circle pools funds and then, together, agrees on how to allocate those funds to support a cause for which they are all passionate.

  3. Explore, experiment, and engage.
    As Shelley made clear, “Changing lives is a long, messy, and complicated process.” That’s where having a philanthropic advisor like OCCF can be a great benefit. With a guide to walk you through the myriad options for giving, you suddenly have the freedom to see further—to explore where you want your dollars to go, to experiment with different available options and, ultimately, to engage with your community to create the greatest possible impact. Shelley and her team are happy to help you identify your passion and then align your giving with charities that are an ideal fit.

    To be sure you’re on the right track for you, Shelley recommended what she calls a “seeing is believing tour.” All it takes is requesting a face-to-face look at the work of the organization. Seeing exactly how your dollars are being used to create change and improve lives may be the best way there is to engage with your passion.

It all comes down to “the power of why.” Once you understand why you’re giving, your ability to make a real and lasting change will be supercharged. (To learn more about “the power of why," Shelley recommends watching this great Ted Talk by author and leadership expert Simon Sinek.) Once you’ve pinpointed your ‘why,’ the next step is determining how to give, and creating a giving strategy that supports your goals. That’s where our team can help. Some smart strategies include creating a Donor Advised Fund, “bunching” your donations within a single tax year to maximize your deduction, and making a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). Read more about each of these strategies in my blog post, 3 smart ways to make charitable gifts. Then let’s chat and start creating your giving strategy for 2019 and beyond. Together, we can put your charitable resources and your passion to work for a greater good!

If you’re interested in attending a future Lunch & Learn—or if you have topics or speakers you would like to recommend for an upcoming agenda—please reach out and let us know!

To learn more about the Orange County Community Foundation, visit www.oc-cf.org.