Of the overwhelming generosity we’ve seen on the part of Canadians throughout the COVID-19 crisis—including Canada Gives Foundation account holders, who have had us happily working overtime to keep up with their flood of grant requests—our sector has unfortunately also seen a rise in charity-related fraud.
Everything from phishing emails and fake websites to unsolicited (and often aggressive) calls have targeted philanthropists with scams urging them to support fake COVID-19 causes. While most donors will ignore these malevolent overtures, there are unfortunate incidents where individuals have been taken advantage of—in many cases vulnerable seniors who want nothing more than to make a difference, only to see their donation make it into the pocket of a scammer.
Of course, donors who have a Canada Gives Foundations don’t have these worries. They can remain anonymous in their gifts to any charity if they choose, eliminating the exposure to would-be fraudsters. In addition, our team carries out due diligence on their behalf—both vetting charities to verify their legitimacy, while ensuring a recipient organization’s charitable mission aligns with the legacy goals of our donor clients. Think of it as an important layer of accountability and assurance on top of the administrative role that we play in managing foundation accounts.
Scams aside, using a donor advised fund for a family foundation provides donors with third-party oversight, with Canada Gives acting as the steward and safe keeper of their generous gifts. We not only help them establish and manage their Foundation account, but ensure their legacy is fulfilled over the long term.
On the estate planning front, for example, we can serve as the beneficiary for your testamentary charitable gifts in a will, RRIF or insurance policy. This ensures that your philanthropic wishes are met and that your legacy goals are achieved—or continue to be met—before and after you’ve passed on. Once you’ve designated a list of preferred charities, we will distribute funds annually from your Foundation account or all at once, according to your direction.
The total bequest or insurance gift will be tax receipted to the estate by Canada Gives, providing additional tax-planning benefits that can be passed along to your heirs.
Having a Canada Gives Foundation account can also help reduce risk to your estate. How? All too often, estates are subject to litigation, and the same is true for estate gifts, which are sometimes challenged by recipient charities that are listed in a will. This happens more than many of us might expect. But by making a bequest to Canada Gives, our team can disburse gifts to your chosen charities. Because there’s no obligation to disclose details about which charities are receiving those gifts, the odds of a legal challenge are greatly reduced, if not fully mitigated.
Then, of course, there’s also the flexibility and ease of management. A donor who uses a Canada Gives Foundation account can change their list of charities at any point during their lifetime without making changes to their will or insurance policy. This drastically simplifies a donor’s philanthropic efforts, while avoiding the cost and administrative burden of amending documents as their charitable giving strategy evolves.
And when a Foundation account holder passes away, their successors can seamlessly maintain their family’s philanthropic activities. That saves heirs the burden of everything from legal and Canada Revenue Agency audit headaches, to governance, administration and reporting burdens. It’s also the reason why so many philanthropists are now steering away from private foundations, which do entail many of these time-consuming (and potentially costly) responsibilities.
One last point: many of our donor clients worry what could happen in a situation where they pledge a gift to a charity in increments over time, but that charity ceases to exist or changes its strategic mandate after they’ve passed away. Others worry that a charity could experience financial difficulties, causing funds to be diverted away from the causes they hoped to support. In cases such as those, our team can redirect annual gifts from your Foundation account to another organization with a similar charitable mandate.
In other words, with the right team and structure in place, philanthropy can be as safe and secure as it is meaningful and transformative, especially with an underlying organization such as ours quarterbacking the process. That’s a major advantage for both novice and experienced philanthropists alike, and ensures that legacies are fulfilled exactly as they’re envisioned.
The Canada Gives Team