Guest Blogger – Josh Swallow: Josh is a summer intern and attends Texas A&M University where he is studying Business Management with a Certificate in Not-for-Profit Business. “I have always wanted to help people but never knew exactly where that would take me in life. When I started to learn more about the multitude of nonprofits around the world and how much good they were doing I knew that was the industry that I wanted to end up in!”

Nonprofit organizations in the U.S. are in a very interesting position when it comes to taxation. If the qualifications are met, an organization can gain tax-exempt status which allows said organization to be exempt from paying some federal income taxes. While this is a fantastic concept that is absolutely helpful to the nonprofits that it applies to, I can’t help but feel that the qualifications for gaining this status may be too lenient. Thus, in this post I am going to talk about some of the baffling organizations who have gained and reatined this status and why I find this is troubling.

For those of you who have been following this blog over the years you will know that I have had the privilege of living and working all over North America and afforded opportunities to travel internationally.  With this global perspective comes the ability to compare and contrast communities and societies; something that is not lost on me.  As I watch what is unfolding around the world over the past few weeks and, perhaps even the past six months, I am confounded at how human nature and tribalism seems to bring out the extremes of the best and worst in people.

Last year I began working TD Wealth - Private Giving Foundation, Jo-Anne Ryan on a series of workshops across Canada focusing on Women and Philanthropy.  We are going to be doing it again this coming year and would like your input.

Last week I presented at the Rising to New Heights, Rotary District 5360 Conference in Canmore.  Below is the transcript from this presentation:

A matching donation from the government is your tax dollars at work.  So when the government says they are matching your donation - you are, in essence, paying twice (sometimes three times) for that single donation and ultimately, single tax credit.

All the more reason why you should be asking questions to the recipient charity.  Here are some suggested questions:

In July 2008 I wrote a piece for the Calgary Herald on charities and overhead.  Then in June 2013 as a result of the Alberta Flood this issue came up again in response to the Canadian Red Cross and the lack of transparency.  Fast forward a few more years and once again a natural disaster, this time the Fort McMurray Fire has brought this issue to the forefront of donors’ minds.  So I thought I should break down the cost of doing “The Business of Philanthropy.”

Every time you make a donation to a charity there is a cost.  Who pays this cost depends on how the transaction is made, what organization it is going to, how that agency is structured and what the internal capacity of the organization is to handle the transaction.

So much emotion has been expressed in my province this past week.  From awe at the magnitude of the Fort McMurray Wildfire to shock at people losing all of their possecisions to wonder at how our First Responders from all over managed to successfully evacuate over 80,000 people to safety to saddness and grief at the sense of loss to gratitude at the kindness of strangers and the outpouring of love.  Modern technology is an amazing thing - we were able to keep tabs on our loved ones through Facebook and coordinate pop-up supports like and a website that is reconnecting families with their pets... all in a matter of minutes (or so it feels like).

I learned a lot when we set up the Southern Alberta Flood Emergency Relief Fund and in response to the devistation facing Fort McMurray we were quick to start our due diligence proccess.  We all know that the Red Cross can raise oodles of cash in a short amount of time, and what we learned from the flood they are great at the front end responding, but when it comes knowing our communities and working with grassroots organizations to deploy the funds they fell short.

To this end, and in keeping with our mandate to ensure we can track the funds and work with organizations that will be accountable and able to report back below is a list of charities that will be in the #YMM Fire Fund. You can donate to this fund by clicking this link and selecting "Area of Greatest Need" from the drop-down menu. 

6-Word Memoir Poetry - #NPM16

The other day I put out a call on LinkedIn and Facebook for people to share their six-word memoir as part of National Poetry Month (#NPM16).  Here is what was shared.  

Thank you to all who participated!  You can still add your memoir to the DVI Facebook page.

When to tell... What to say?

Over the past few weeks a couple clients have asked me about how and when to share their family wealth and social capital plans with their children and other family members.  This of course is different for each person and each family so there is no hard and fast rule.  There is however some general things that all wealth creators should consider when planning for the transition to the next generation or out into community:

1. How much is enough? As Warren Buffet said, "I want to leave enough for my kids so that they will do something, but not so much that they won't do anything."  Allison Maher from Family Wealth Coach calls it Knowing Your Number.  What do you need to live on and your inheritors to live on to be comfortable, what do you want government to take in taxes and what do you want your community to receive."

What is your six word memoir?

I was out for dinner with a dear friend this evening and he asked me what my six word memoir is.

Here's what I came up with:

Always asking, "What most needs doing?"

What is your six word memoir?


This morning I gave the keynote address at the CAGP conference in Banff, Alberta.  The presentation is on Next Generation/Rising Generation philanthropists.  Below is a copy of the transcript and the slides.