How do you define success? Ask 10 different people this question and you’re likely to get 10 different definitions. The typical dictionary definition characterizes success as “an accomplishment of a goal or purpose.” While this is true, by necessity it leaves out details individuals like you and me associate with a successful life.
The missing ingredient
Your definition of success might focus on attaining a certain level of wealth so you have enough for kids’ college, unexpected emergencies, and retirement. Perhaps success, to you, involves attaining a certain level of authority and respect in your chosen field. Others may have a more non-traditional view that centers on an extracurricular activity (i.e. finishing in the top tier when running marathons, winning a national sandcastle building competition, or writing that book so many people dream of writing).
Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ve thought it out in such a way that achieving the goals you’ve set out for yourself will offer you fulfillment and a sense of pride in your accomplishment. So, given all of this, what could possibly be missing from your roadmap to success? The answer may surprise you:
Philanthropy – an opportunity to give back as you journey along your road to ultimate success
Adding in a charitable giving plan to your ascent up the ladder to personal achievement may actually prove to be one of the most rewarding parts of the journey. Of course, planned charitable giving will allow you to take advantage of the lucrative tax benefits. But giving back to society also creates a powerful and lasting ripple effect. Just like ripples form when throwing a rock into a calm pond, your philanthropy will have a similar effect by inspiring others to participate in charitable giving as well.
It’s important to develop a philanthropic mission and strategy. Creating a plan and establishing a dedicated account for your charitable giving, such as a donor advised fund, will help ensure your chosen charities use your gifts in a way that has the maximum impact on the causes you’re most passionate about.
Starting now, regardless of where you are along your journey to success, will afford you benefits you truly can’t experience any other way. You will:
Increase meaning and purpose in daily life
Engaging in planned charitable giving can reinvigorate your everyday life and will break you out of a sense of monotony. Once you see how your gifts are impacting your favorite causes, you’ll develop a deeper meaning and purpose as you journey toward success. Giving with purpose also creates opportunities to meet others with the same passion for the causes you care about. Oftentimes, these relationships develop into a professional network that provides mutually beneficial opportunities in other areas.
Motivate friends and colleagues to charitable giving
As friends and professional colleagues learn about your efforts to impact certain causes, this will fuel their desire for philanthropy (it’s that ripple effect we were talking about).
Cultivate a spirit of generosity in kids
If you have children or grandchildren, involving them as soon as possible in the process will develop in them a sense of gratitude. Out of this attitude of thankfulness, even very young kids will develop a keen sense that they can make a difference.
Build a lasting legacy
By adding a philanthropic strategy to your roadmap to success, you can build a lasting family legacy. The impact your generosity has on social issues and important causes will reverberate with future generations as they carry on the good that started with you.
Enjoy Tax benefits
Donating to an IRS approved charity allows you to deduct the amount given and lessens your income tax burden, which is just another positive aspect of giving.
So take some time to think about what you envision to be personal success. If it doesn’t include a philanthropic mission and strategy, consider adding one to your vision. You can develop your giving strategy and start giving wherever you are on your journey. Whether you’re just starting out, or are nearing retirement, the time to start making a real difference is now.