How philanthropy can bridge the gaps

The world we live in, especially the past 18 months, reminds me of a book I read back in high school called A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. If you’ve read it too, you may recall this story has enduring themes on oppression, isolation, compassion, justice, social anarchy, sacrifice, resurrection, and the renunciation that fosters renewal. Even if you haven’t read it, these are timeless themes that we are dealing with today as much as the readers of A Tale of Two Cities were when it was published in 1859.

Think for a moment about the “two cities” as a metaphor representing the gap between where  society is now and where we want it to be. I believe philanthropy can serve as a bridge between this gap. Each of us can define the “two cities” however we want based on our own values, experiences, needs and desires. Philanthropy can be a meaningful connection to help us elevate to a new common ground. It can be an overarching positive mindset that spurs action to alleviate tension, lift others up and make a difference—whether it’s simply lending a helping hand, finding a solution to a problem, or joining a cause to make an impact.

Why do I use the word philanthropy instead of charity? Philanthropy and charitable giving are often used interchangeably, and while both are important in the non-profit sector, they are different. Philanthropy is the strategic process of understanding our underlying values, identifying the root causes of systemic issues, and then taking action to find a solution to make the world a better place. It’s longer-term in nature. Charity is a compassionate response to an immediate crisis or a short-term need. The two go hand in hand.

Philanthropy’s big-picture, strategic view is fulfilled through the actions of charities.  Sometimes charitable entities are used when you have multiple goals or multiple members you want to benefit from your gifts.  Keep in mind, philanthropy and charitable giving aren’t just for the high-net worth. Everyone can enjoy the benefits of helping others in need, gaining a feeling of fulfillment, and receiving the financial benefits through an income tax deduction and/or the removal of assets from your taxable estate.

How to Move Forward and let Philanthropy Bridge the Gap

  1. Define values and issues – start your philanthropic plan by defining your values, where you see a problem or a need, and where you want to make a difference.
  2. Define the resources you need – work with a financial advisor to first help you determine the capital needed to support your lifestyle for the rest of your life. Then we can help you make philanthropy a part of your long-term financial plan, incorporating giving into your everyday life at a pace that is comfortable for you.
  3. Define the excess funds available for others – your financial advisor can help you determine the excess capital available for (1) gifting to your family if this is your goal, and/or (2) gifting to charitable organizations. Then we can help you make philanthropy a part of your long-term financial plan, incorporating giving into your everyday life at a pace that is comfortable for you.
  4. Teach others to “fish” for themselves – you might want to select charities that are empowering beneficiaries to grow out of their current situation and pay it forward. Or, you may want to involve your family ) in your philanthropic plan to teach them about your family values and how to  make an impact. This can be a powerful way to leave a legacy. 

For more information, please contact your CI Private Wealth Advisor.


Dana Pingenot, CFP®, CLU®, CAP®

Dana Pingenot, CFP®, CLU®, CAP®

Partner, Wealth Advisor

Dana is a Managing Director at RGT Wealth Advisors where she focuses on strategic financial planning, family governance, multi-generational estate planning, and philanthropic strategies for high-net-worth families. Her experience in the financial planning profession spans over 35 years.

Dana has appeared multiple times on *D Magazine’s list of “The Best Financial Planners in Dallas” and Texas Monthly’s Five Star Wealth Manager list. She received the DFW Financial Planning Association’s Honor’s Award in 2012. She remains actively involved in the community and our profession.

Dana is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, a Chartered Life Underwriter®, and a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®. She completed her Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Financial Planning from Baylor University, where she was a charter member of the Financial Management Association, and a music scholarship recipient, playing her trombone.


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