The Philanthropy Three-Legged Stool

Key Takeaways

  • You can donate your time, talent, or treasure, or all three when it comes to philanthropic causes you are passionate about.
  • If you don’t want to be paid for your services, or you do not have the money to give, working with a non-profit or volunteer group is a great way to give back and is greatly needed in our society.
  • When donating money to a cause, there is a large spectrum of giving, from writing a check, to starting a private foundation, and several steps in between.

In our human existence, we have a couple of things that are universal. We all get 24 hours in a day, we all have certain abilities unique to us, and we all get certain amounts of money, although some have more, and some have less.

How does this apply to giving, otherwise known as philanthropy? You may have heard the phrase, “time, talent and treasure,” which is very similar to those three universal things in our human existence. These three things can apply individually or combine to create a philanthropic endeavor.

You may have some time on your hands, and you want to do something of interest to you with your abilities, but you don’t want to be paid for your services, or you don’t have the money to spend. You could do some work for a non-profit or volunteer group. You can certainly just use your time and talent if you don’t have excess money because there’s a lot of people who need help in areas that are not covered by our society.

If you have the third piece, treasure, otherwise known as money, you can use this for purposes of philanthropy in several ways:

  • Write a check – You could give a certain amount of money to a charity to help a cause you are passionate about, perhaps even just a one-time small gift.
  • Larger gift giving – You could write a larger check, or even gift things like stock to a capital campaign for your church or synagogue, or a campaign to fix up a school, or local ballpark or recreation facility.
  • Multiple assets – If you have larger funds and multiple assets to give, you could start a private foundation, donor advised funds, or private operating foundation where you are spending your full time and efforts in the cause you are supporting to create more dollars and have a bigger impact.

Philanthropy can go the whole spectrum from volunteering your time, to offering your unique services for free, writing a check, or being a fully operational, full-time basis charitable endeavor of something you are passionate about supporting. That’s the three-legged stool of philanthropy, your time, your talent, and your treasure.

Until next time, enjoy.


Learn more about TransformingWealth™ , our proprietary approach, designed to get your arms around the big picture so you can make informed financial decisions. Ask Gary about Coyle’s TransformingWealth Preview Meeting, and schedule a complimentary consultation and start living the Good Life Managed Well™.

Gary Klaben is in our Glenview, IL office and serves our clients who are now located all over the country. He has over 30 years of experience and is the author of Changing the Conversation, The Wealth Sanctuary and co-author of The Business BattlefieldWhether advising his clients, mentoring his team, or coaching entrepreneurs, he is always simplifying complexity and motivating others to take the next action that’s right for them.
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