Giving beyond the checkbook – how unusual assets can be put to work for philanthropy
By Christy Eckoff, managing director, philanthropic counsel, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
When most people think about how much they want to give to worthy causes, they are likely to think about their overall budget – how much of my income do I want to set aside for giving? From there they might designate a certain percentage of their annual income or a specific dollar amount they want to give.
What people might not think about is what they might have that is of value, but isn’t cash. For most of us, our total net worth isn’t what’s in our bank account, it’s in material goods, investments and our home or valuable treasures we have collected.
Paul R. Jones was someone like this. In the 1960s he began collecting art and photography by African American artists when he realized this population was under-represented in museums and galleries. He had the financial means to invest in art and individual artists, and in some cases, his payments to the artists were one of their only sources of income. He saw that as a way to give back, while also getting something beautiful in return. In his lifetime he also accumulated a number of commercial and residential real estate properties as well as an investment portfolio and CDs.
When Jones passed away his estate consisted of financial assets but most of its value was in art and real estate. When he no longer had any surviving heirs, his estate was given to the Community Foundation where Jones had been a donor and volunteer with our Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund. The Foundation sold his assets to create a fund for philanthropy. To honor his legacy, the Foundation structured his gift as a Field of Interest Fund for African American arts. Now, generations to come will benefit from his generosity.
Paul Jones is just one example of how the things we accumulate in life can be put to work for good. We work with a lot of generous people to help them navigate the transition of complex assets to philanthropic funds, like appreciated stock, business interests, real estate or valuable works of art. Philanthropy isn’t just about writing a check. Sometimes it’s about turning your own treasure into a legacy for giving back. Learn more about how we can turn complex assets into charitable assets in this video.