Ron Amstutz

“Larry, this is mom.  Ron is in surgery in Vancouver.  He has cancer.”

Imagine getting this phone call about your little brother… perhaps you have already received a similar call about a friend, co-worker, or family member.  Initially I went through a very normal pattern of emotions: fear, anxiety, helplessness, despair and anger.

My younger brother was 25 at the time. Diagnosed with lymphoma he was in surgery having his spleen and lymph nodes removed. I am blessed that nearly 30 years after that conversation with my mom, I was able to speak with him on the phone last evening about coming over for a visit to see me.

Working now for the Canadian Cancer Society I have a much better understanding of what a family can do when they first get this news, and what they can do later on, sometimes even after the tragic loss of a loved one.

I have found that many people want to do something fairly quickly. We don’t want to stand on the sidelines while our loved ones are fighting for their lives. Many people make time and volunteer for their cause. Some will donate money on the spot. We all want to do whatever it takes to help and to make us feel we can personally be involved.

However, later on with the perspective of time and healing we look for deeper and more meaningful ways to contribute. I have conversations everyday with people who want to make a planned charitable gift. Everyone has a cause they want to support and for many that is the fight against cancer. I engage in meaningful conversations with them to better understand their charitable motivation and to encourage them to carefully consider the impact that they want to make. Then we discuss the best method (or combination of methods) to make a planned gift. It could be as simple as changing a beneficiary designation on an RRSP to a charity, to making a gift of a life insurance policy, or updating their will to include their charity or cause of choice.

There are significant tax benefits that come from giving; but I find that these are always secondary to that more profound interest of “doing something for my little brother”.

If you would like to make your own impact, chat with someone who can offer you advice; someone like myself who offers specialist support at no obligation to individual donors and to professional advisors and their clients. You can make a difference – no matter what the charitable cause is that inspires you.

Guest fighter: Larry Amstutz, Charitable Giving Advisor