Planned Giving… it IS for Millennials, too!

During July, the COMPASS blog, is sharing stories, tips and reflections all about gift giving. Today we welcome back writer Nicole Brennan from Barnabas Foundation, who shares about the significance and importance of planned giving, especially for Millennials.

A friend of mine is currently developing an app to streamline generosity in all its many facets: donating, volunteering, attending an event, and sharing news about a cause. When I asked if he was including planned giving, he said “it’s too big of a fish to hook now.”

seedFor those of you who may not know, a planned gift (or planned giving) is just that: a gift that requires planning. (Novel, I know!) Whether you set aside some funds in your lifetime through a donor advised fund, or leave a portion of your assets to charity through a will, it’s planned giving. I happen to think it’s not too big a fish, it’s just a misunderstood one- and a great way for Millennials to create their legacy.

You see, as Millennials, we may not want to think about our imminent death. We also may feel that financially, we have nothing to spare for planned giving. (I don’t know about you, but as a 20-something, renting an apartment, and squirrelling away a few bucks in a savings account, I don’t think I have much to give away.) But through my work at Barnabas Foundation, I came to realize that I have “unknown affluence.” As a Christian, my true treasure is in heaven, but I have a lot here on earth, too. I just didn’t know it.

One of the volunteer groups I am active with is the Legacy Corps: Support for veterans and their caregivers.

One of the volunteer groups I am active with is the Legacy Corps: Support for veterans and their caregivers.

There are several ways to give a gift: through our time, talent, and treasure. I love volunteering and give my time freely generally because I feel it is the most abundant aspect of the three. However, I can easily give my “treasure” away immediately, if only I budget. Tithing and stewardship is a way of life, and can be part of our giving even after we pass away. You can do that by creating a will.

Now I know most of you Millennials are thinking, “A will isn’t for me,” but a will is an important document to have at every age. It can save your family hassle, can appoint guardianship of your children, direct your money where you want it to go, and provide many tax deductions.

Here’s a little homework for you: make a list of everything you already own. Include items like your car, laptop, furniture, pension, life insurance, savings account, those bonds from 8th grade graduation- anything that would be considered an asset. All of that can be included in your will: your earthy, material possessions.

Leaving a lasting testimony behind- especially a faith statement- is an important aspect of a will. This shapes your legacy- your proverbial monument- but what are the bricks that build it? Your monument- your legacy- is built by the bricks: the volunteer hours you freely gave, the fundraising on behalf of a worthy goal, the prayers said in the stillness, and the financial support for these causes. Planned gifts are important and creative bricks to show your support during and after your time on earth.

What does your monument look like? What is your legacy going to be?

profileAbout the Author, Nicole Brennan: Hello there! I’m passionate about living a stewardly lifestyle, while being adventurous and frugal. I currently live in community with six other 20-somethings in downtown Chicago and work as a Marketing Assistant at Barnabas Foundation, a partner of ESC and COMPASS. In my off hours, you can find me volunteering at a nearby homeless shelter, enjoy live music with friends, or watching reruns of Parks and Rec. Email me at or tweet me at @BarnabasFdn.

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.