“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Last week I sat in a beautiful drawing room in a lovely home in Vancouver, B.C. listening to Kathy LeMay, President and CEO of Raising Change, share her story and instruct us to “Do what we can, with what we have, where we are.” Kathy is a high impact fund raising consultant and philanthropic advisor. Her mission is to help people create their own generosity plans, or in other words, how they are going to use their time, treasure and talent to make a difference in the world.

There were twenty fabulous women present to launch a new women’s network associated with the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, my alma mater. Of no surprise to those of you who know me, I was one of the organizers!

I met Kathy through a dear friend a few years ago, and Kathy has been helping to guide my giving ever since. Although I had a financial plan, a retirement plan, an estate plan and even a health plan, it did not really occur to me that I needed a giving plan. That is, until I met Kathy. Now that plan is the framework I use to not only guide how much money I give, but what non-profit boards I choose to serve on, and what service activities I engage in. The essence of the plan is to match your resources with your passions in the most effective way possible. When you think about it, it makes sense, but do we do it? Personally I tend to say yes too often, spreading myself too thin, and I sometimes end up feeling stressed out and dissatisfied with my ‘volunteer work’. Now when I am asked, I apply that opportunity to my framework, and the right decision generally flows out of it.

So what are the key elements of this plan? First and foremost you need to get in touch with what you are passionate about. Ask yourself what in the world you really want to change? What issues do you care the most about? Once you have identified those passion areas, do some homework. Look for organizations whose missions are aligned with those passions. Next think about what you have to give – take an inventory. Do you have time? Money? Skills that a non-profit need? Or all three? Break those all down and then connect them, intentionally, back to those organizations. Intentionally.

There is certainly a lot more to it, so check out Kathy’s web-site for tools to get you started.

A giving plan is something all people can do, not just the people over there. You know those people, the people with lots of money and lots of time on their hands. No, a generosity plan is for everyone, you, me, young, old, and it is an especially great concept to introduce to your children which my husband and I have been doing this year.

Thank you Kathy for being such an amazing influence in my life and for helping me to become the “change I want to see in the world.”

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