Wealth is temporary and transitory, but impacts can touch centuries (nonprofit spotlight)

The only thing that doesn't change is change itself. Permanence is an illusion, even when it comes to wealth.

In March 2008, the Community Foundation of Western Nevada partnered with the Nevada Community Foundation (Las Vegas), and the Nevada Commission on Economic Development to fund a study on “Wealth Transfer in Nevada.” The final report focused on the transfer of wealth from generation to generation, between 2005 and 2055 throughout Nevada with the statistics, reported by County. The results are fascinating.

The estimated transfer of wealth (TOW) from generation to generation in Nevada over 50 years is $283.33 billion. Yes, billion. Of the 16 counties, Washoe County ranked high at $58.55 billion moving from one generation to the next, as bequests.

If all of us left just 5% of our estate to improve our communities then, in Washoe County alone by 2050, we would have built a community endowment totaling nearly $3 billion, distributing about $50 million a year to address our community needs.

I am personally a big believer in the 5% theory, and in fact, we have planned to gift 20% to the community. After all, my kids are grown and have graduated college. They are working hard, and I am positive that they will be just fine with 80% of our estate.

With careful philanthropy, positive impact on lives and permanent improvements in our community are happening and will continue in the future. Each of us have this opportunity to leave a legacy to future generations of Nevadans, and although our giving can't necessarily change the world, giving locally can change our lives and our neighbors' lives for the better.

Although wealth is transitory, what we do with it when we have it is a choice we make. Life is temporary in relation to planetary time. We can't take our money with us, but we can choose how we give it away: to our heirs, to the government, to our friends, and to those causes we care about most. We have the choice to use our wealth as a way to share and encourage our values and to perpetuate those values in our families and in our community.

When the economy was hit so hard in 2008 Nevada did not get much positive traction on promoting the concept of giving 5%. The concept is taking off now and I encourage you think about it.

Five percent is not a great reduction in a single inheritance. But combine your gift with those of neighbors' and friends', and a 5% bequest is a large enough, especially if we direct them into a community endowment, to change our world in Northern Nevada.

The Community Endowment at the Community Foundation of Western Nevada is something that is permanent. Your gift will give on for generations and grow while doing so.

Imagine what northern Nevada can do with $50 million each year to use for good. Imagine what we could be doing today if the “Leave 5%” movement had taken off in 2008 generating millions this year for charitable and philanthropic community strengthening projects.

If you'd like to learn more about what people are doing to share their wealth in ways impact the people, we see in our community every day, please call the Community Foundation of Western Nevada at 775-333-5499. Your community foundation, and we love this place.

Go here to download the Wealth Transfer in Nevada, Final Report, March 2008.

This article was written by Chris Askin, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, which sponsors this content.


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