We are very blessed. We have a wonderful family, terrific friends, a comfortable home and a summer place on Orcas Island. We are relatively financially secure and after having had the benefit of personal witness to the poverty of disadvantaged people in Latin America, we decided a while back to share our blessings through tax-advantaged support of nonprofit organizations. All due respect to Uncle Sam, we prefer having a stronger voice in how our monies are spent. We like the old adage, “Do your givin’ while you’re livin’ so you’re knowin’ where it’s goin’.”

One of the things that attracted us to each other 30 years ago was a shared faith. Involvement at church and our parental background likely introduced us to giving, which we’ve continued with nonprofits that have strategic social missions and measurable results in improving people’s lives. Our lives also have been greatly enriched through relationships with many wonderful people we’ve met who similarly support the nonprofit community.

In conjunction with our retirement, we received a lump-sum distribution of deferred bonus monies and working with professionals at Seattle Foundation enabled a tax-effective allocation to a community philanthropy fund. This was both financially advantageous at the time and also allowed us to make subsequent charitable gifts in a thoughtful, efficient manner.

One organization we feel strongly connected to is Global Partnerships, a Seattle-based nonprofit founded to support microfinance work in Latin America. With a micro-loan of a few hundred dollars, people -- primarily women -- can start a small business and significantly improve the nutrition, health and education of their children. Both of us have served on the Global Partnerships board and taken numerous trips to Latin America to visit the projects that the nonprofit funds. It’s hard to really appreciate the degree of poverty there until you experience it in person and see how Global Partnerships’ focus on self-sustaining, outcomes-based results is transforming lives.

Seattle Foundation also has been very helpful in counseling us as we investigated the best approach for introducing our three granddaughters to the value of giving. The girls are still young but we have begun talking to them about “the three buckets for money -- spending, saving and sharing.” From every dollar, spend some, save some and share some.

Seattle Foundation has helped us develop a giving plan for our granddaughters. In addition to an inheritance that each of them will receive in trust, the plan provides a like amount in an individual community philanthropy fund in their names -- to distribute as they determine appropriate when each comes of age. We also included a “Letter of Intent,” which outlines the values and giving guidelines that we have embraced. Our hope is that the plan will continue a legacy of giving in their lives. As Winston Churchill said, “You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.”

We’ve been so blessed in life that we would feel embarrassed to wish for anything -- except this: We hope to live long enough so that one day we can take our granddaughters down to Latin America with Global Partnerships, share with them an awareness of the real poverty in the world and hopefully pass on the benefits that have measurably enhanced our lives.

Learn more about philanthropy at the Seattle Foundation.