Why You Give and How You Benefit 

Cynics would have us believe that people give to charitable organizations, like Willamette University, and support various causes only to save on taxes.

Granted, that is a good reason, but those who have studied charitable motivations tell us that reasons besides saving taxes take precedence. Consider these other reasons for giving.

  • Commitment to a particular cause. Not surprisingly, this is the most important reason. We support religion, education, healing, culture and other good works simply because we want to serve humanity. An outstanding example is Albert Schweitzer, whose "reverence for life" caused him to give up a promising theological, medical and musical career in Europe to become a medical missionary in the jungles of Africa.
  • Desire to share. To the extent we have been successful, we like to give something back and let others share in our good fortune. In so doing, we deservedly gain recognition and a kind of immortality that can be achieved in no other way. No one succeeded as admirably as Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-born steel mogul, who believed that "the man who dies rich, dies disgraced." He said, "surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community."
  • Personal satisfaction. Many people give for the pure enjoyment of helping others, which is magnified by the heartwarming gratitude expressed by those who have benefited. Thoreau wrote, "Philanthropy is almost the only virtue which is sufficiently appreciated by mankind." There is no doubt that people who care for other people have discovered the key that unlocks the door to real happiness.

These are the primary reasons individuals give so generously.

Don't Overlook the Personal Financial Benefits
Once you have reached a decision to support a particular cause or institution like ours, it is only natural that you should consider the personal financial benefits of your gift. Here are the many ways you can benefit while helping others.

  • Income tax savings. To encourage private contributions, our government allows you to deduct them on your income tax return, provided you itemize.
  • Reduction of estate and probate costs. Gifts to Willamette, either now or at death, avoid the federal estate tax. A contribution now also reduces probate costs later.

Give for Your Own Reasons
No matter why others give, you have your own personal reasons. This is the way it should be. Philanthropy has tangible and intangible rewards. You will find that you are influenced by many motives—some humanitarian, some financial, some close to your heart. The best plan for you is the one that satisfies all of them.

Please contact Steve Brier at (866) 204-8102, or via e-mail at sbrier@willamette.edu, for more information.