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Planning Ahead in The Season of Gratitude

A new season is upon us, colours are emerging, and the local harvest is plentiful. These familiar milestones signal the beginning of fall and invite us to reflect on two important themes: gratitude and preparation. These cues from nature and the events, memes, and media coverage of Thanksgiving can help us understand why gratitude and planning ahead are synonymous with this time of year.

As they prepare for the colder weather, did you know squirrels store more food than they need? They are intelligent and meticulous when it comes to storing and relocating their bounty, but they often overlap with each other’s preserves. Any undiscovered stores return to the circle of life and provide nourishment to the surrounding ecosystems. As well as ensuring their own longevity, their efforts to accumulate nest eggs can also provide support to their “community,” whether they are aware of it or not.

Charity and not-for-profit work is deeply connected to these efforts of gratitude and preparation. There are dozens of charities in Simcoe Muskoka that serve the greater good throughout the year. Their tireless efforts address issues of inequality, provide basic needs, improve health, education, and connections, and bring people together. The success of this work depends on the support that is received through fundraising. Most often, community support is solicited by appeals to compassion or crisis, both of which are powerful tools to inspire generosity; however, both are very much focused on the problems to be solved. When someone is hurt or at risk, feelings of fear and worry bring about caring acts. Gratitude gifts are another story in giving back that is not discussed as often, one rooted in hope. The act of reflecting on one’s life and things they are grateful for can create a domino effect of goodwill, especially when paired with thoughtful and intentional giving.

The impact of planned gifts is often underestimated, yet they are among the most impactful. People are surprised to learn they are not only accessible to all income levels, but they are also mutually beneficial and, with the right advice, can be an integral part of personal financial planning. With the help of a lawyer or financial planner, an individual can establish a private foundation, set up a bequest or donor-advised fund, designate RRSPs or marketable securities, or use many other techniques to maximize their impact.

As squirrels do, most people work hard throughout their lives to set aside for their future, often unknowingly securing enough for themselves and their communities. During this time of preparation, we invite you to think about the legacy you wish to leave. During this season of gratitude, take a moment to think about who you are and what makes you who you are? In what ways am I grateful? How did I get here? Which organizations in the community are most important to me and how can I make sure they will be around for my children, neighbours, and generations to come? Talk about these stories with your family, lawyers, and advisors, and learn how you can use your own experience to make positive changes, for a brighter future.

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