There is a palpable sense of fun in Hugo Peters’ voice when he speaks about his unconventional retirement plan. He wants to give away all his money. Bit by bit, he is determined to donate as much as he can.
Hugo likens this strategy to an old joke about a farmer who fell on hard times and decided to feed his horse a little less every day – the plan worked out perfectly because the horse dropped dead the exact day the farmer ran out of feed. “Let’s say we live another twenty years,” says Hugo, now in his seventies. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we ran out of money on the last day?’”
Risk Giving It All
After a long and happy teaching career and some side ventures into real estate, Hugo and his late wife Herta had settled into a comfortable retirement. However, they were frustrated with paying high taxes, and were looking for a more effective way to manage their finances. Hugo remembers the day their plan for radical generosity started to take shape. “We just said to each other, ‘Can we risk giving it all away?’” The ensuing conversation led them to ramp up their charitable giving in a big way.
Having grown up in the Christian faith, the Peters’ were accustomed to tithing a portion of their income to church and charity, but this was different. They contacted Abundance Canada for help.
A New Generosity Plan
Hugo and Herta already used a Gifting Fund™ with Abundance Canada to manage their charitable donations, but they sat down with their gift planning consultant and revised their Generosity Plan™ to meet their expanded giving goals. They decided to give a lump sum of money to their children each year and donate a matching amount to charity. Hugo admits, “The motivations were a mix of self-interest (charitable receipts help offset taxable income), long-time habit, and making good on a commitment to donate to charity.” However, once they put their plan into action, they discovered the deep joy that comes from radical generosity.
“We found ourselves having fun with the money we were giving away.”
Hugo has found great joy supporting his favourite charities over the years, donating both his time and money to the causes he cares about. He’s especially keen to model generosity and share the experience of giving with his children, grandchildren and others.
Growing Generosity and Giving Together
Of course, radical generosity looks different in each of our lives, and giving will need to be adapted to meet individual goals. In the end, C.S. Lewis sums it up saying, “It is simply a matter of choosing to give more than just that which we can spare.” When we do this, we show those around us that a new level of giving is possible, and even joyful. Hugo says, “It’s wonderful to discover that there are lots of people choosing to live and give generously and giving is more fun as part of a group than just as a lone wolf.”
Hugo’s advice on practicing radical generosity is simple: “Start with your local church and then extend charity wherever you see the need”.
Where do you see the need in your community? Maybe your place of worship needs extra help while services are cancelled, or a seniors’ charity is looking for volunteers to run errands for at-risk individuals, or the city food bank and the homeless shelter needs additional support because demand is on the rise. During this global pandemic, there is no shortage of local options. Find a charity close to your heart and start extending generosity today.
Contributed by Harold Penner
Gift Planning Consultant