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The Stewardship of Wealth: Successful Private Wealth Management for Investors and Their Advisors, + Website by Gregory Curtis

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Philanthropy

This will be one of the shortest entries in the book for the simple reason that it's none of my business what you do with your money. And if there is a God in heaven I can guarantee you that He or She doesn't give a damn whether you give your money away or not. There are as many philanthropists in hell as in heaven. Henry Clay Frick said to Andrew Carnegie, perhaps the world's greatest philanthropist, when the latter asked to see the former: “I'll see you in hell.”

Family foundations can be a wonderful way to give back to the community and they provide a useful training tool for younger generations in the arts of investing and philanthropy. Young people tend to be a lot more interested in giving money away than in investing it. But if they have to sit through the investment portion of the meeting in order to participate in the grant-making portion, they will gradually internalize the message that grant-making success depends on investment success.

But private foundations are highly regulated beasts and the regulations are getting more strict and becoming more rigorously enforced. In addition, foundations have (by law) heavy spending obligations, making the investment side of things very challenging.

Here are some things to be aware of:

  • Keep your eye on the foundation's spending. By law, a private foundation must give away 5 percent of its asset base every year (as a rolling average), and the foundation must also pay a 2 percent excise tax (or pay a 1 percent tax and ...

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