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Book Review: Smart and Caring: A Donor's Guide to Major Gifting

Resource Center - Foundation

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Reprinted from the January/February issue of Advancing Philanthropy

Smart and Caring: A Donor's Guide to Major Gifting, by Richard & Linda Livingston; RLD Publishing, Louisville, Colorado; 196 pages, softcover

This is a story by two people who inherited a large sum of money and how they dealt with it in settling an estate and preparing to understand major gifting. It is not a 'how to' or technical treatise but instead is a frank and open discussion by donors about what they went through in determining the disposition of some available funds. As they cited in the beginning, " We soon found ourselves with much more than we needed to live on, and we pondered what to do with the extra money. We realized that we, like everyone else, had two choices: We could (1) spend it, or (2) give it away."

The Livingstons reveal the personal and financial considerations in developing their gift giving criteria involving basic motivations, family issues, taxes, giving tools techniques and personal values. They write how each played a part in determining who gets what and how much, and about their entire investigative process in how to accomplish the giving goals. Labeling it all as a 'life-enhancing experience,' they describe the roles in that regard by their family, the fund-raising community, and professionals, such as attorneys, accountants, money managers, and brokers. Finally, we are treated to a compendium of their insights in the form of a checklist showing what they learned and what they gained as they went through it.

This is a very personal, thoughtful work by two people who express, as cited on their Internet web page, "?. tax efficient, caring philanthropy?." ( You may also use that resource to order the book and the financial projection spreadsheet they devised.

This is worthwhile reading of the giving side by all of us who are often so caught up in the getting side in our philanthropic pursuits.

Review by Thomas J. Kolda, Ph.D., CFRE.  Director of Advancement for the College of Education and Director of University Planned Giving at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

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