A board member of Rising Star Outreach, Stephen Edward Samuelian understands the concept of giving beyond the surface. Here, Mr. Samuelian answers some questions about giving and why he believes that philanthropy should be viewed as an investment.
Presentation Solutions: We are so glad you could sit with us today.
Stephen Edward Samuelian: I have been looking forward to it!
Presentation Solutions: We’d like to open our time together by asking about the different types of charities out there. To what types of organizations can people give?
Stephen Edward Samuelian: There are charities for virtually any cause you can think of. Religion, education, and social services are among the most prevalent.
Presentation Solutions: And in what ways do these charities receive donor funds?
Stephen Edward Samuelian: Of course, there are direct cash gifts. Charities can also benefit from volunteered time or items for use or to resale in order to raise money.
Presentation Solutions: What are donor-advised funds?
Stephen Edward Samuelian: A donor-advised fund is one in which funds contributed to the donor’s cause is managed by a legal non-profit organization. These funds allow the donor to retain some advisory privileges, making them attractive for high-value benefactors.
Presentation Solutions: So then there is some control retained over how the money is spent?
Stephen Edward Samuelian: Yes, and this makes these types of funds a great way to invest in a charity of choice.
Presentation Solutions: What do you mean by “invest?”
Stephen Edward Samuelian: Well, personally I think that all donations should be viewed as an investment.
Presentation Solutions: As opposed to a gift?
Stephen Edward Samuelian: Exactly. I say this because, with an investment, there is some expectation of a return on the funds. Charitable giving should be no different.
Presentation Solutions: You mean that a donor should make a profit off his or her donations?
Stephen Edward Samuelian: No, not an investment in that sense. When you give, you should seek a giving vehicle that will do the most with your money; In other words, one that maximizes the gift and has the most positive effect.
Presentation Solutions: That makes a lot of sense actually. So you are saying it’s best to do some research and not just give without knowing how the nonprofit operates?
Stephen Edward Samuelian: Bingo! Giving is a wonderful thing, but if you give to a cause and your money doesn’t actually do any good, what’s the point?
Presentation Solutions: So, are there any guidelines we should use or questions that we can run by ourselves before we “shop around” for a charity?
Stephen Edward Samuelian: I’d say to make sure the foundation to which you plan to give is really aligned with your idea of the cause and that they have an actual plan in place for how to use donated funds.
Presentation Solutions: What are your thoughts on public giving versus doing it “out of the limelight?”
Stephen Edward Samuelian: There are arguments that support both sides of this. On one hand, you may not want the public praise; some are ridiculed as using a charity as a tax write-off, which is rarely – if ever – the case.
Presentation Solutions: And on the other…?
Stephen Edward Samuelian: High-profile philanthropists often inspire others to get involved and to make a difference; it creates a ripple effect of giving.
Presentation Solutions: And so, if they went about as “unsung heroes,” the ripple effect might not travel as far?
Stephen Edward Samuelian: Correct…but in the end, it all comes down to personal preference.
Presentation Solutions: That’s great insight and we appreciate your taking the time to chat today. We’d love to sit down with you again sometime.
Stephen Edward Samuelian: Anytime. Thank you for having me.