Having dedicated decades to philanthropy, volunteerism and community involvement, Bonnie and Terry Jackson have straightforward advice for anyone who wants to get started with doing the same: set up a fund at your local community foundation.
Back in 2001, the Jacksons were considering setting up a family foundation. But their financial planner suggested setting up a fund with The Oakville Community Foundation instead which offered a simpler process and a closer connection to the needs of the community. Ever since that time, Bonnie and Terry have been deeply involved in supporting The Foundation as both Fundholders and volunteers. And this year, Bonnie and Terry have come up with a unique way to involve the next two generations of their family in the philanthropic world.
“We’ve long had The Oakville Community Foundation in our will,” explains Terry. “But last year, as we were reviewing our estate and our assets, we realized that we still had a good amount of money available to designate to charity – and an opportunity to include our children and grandchildren in the process. Rather than set up one large new family fund, we set up 11 new funds for each of our three daughters and eight grandchildren.”
“We started with a small amount of money in each of our daughter’s and grandchildren’s names. It made sense to get all of the funds established now, rather than at the time of our deaths – which could be complicated,” says Bonnie. “And through a matching program at The Foundation, each $1,500 fund received a $1,000 match; starting each new fund at $2,500.”
Bonnie and Terry built flexibility into the new funds in a few ways. They included the option for each Fundholder to “spend down” ten percent of the capital each year, should there be an opportunity that they want to support financially. And the individual funds can be combined; allowing the children and grandchildren to support large initiatives or to streamline and help each other with the management of the funds.
Bonnie, who now serves on The Foundation’s board of directors, explains that Fundholders are the first to be alerted to local needs and are given the chance to support those needs. She shares the example of an innovative program called Homeward Bound: “As an organization, we decided that instead of giving fish, it was time to teach people how to fish. Through this program, which started in Toronto, single moms are provided with child care, accommodations, schooling and support in getting a new job. We are in our third cohort with the first cohort now graduating, and it has been very successful.”
Because both Bonnie and Terry have supported many charitable organizations – including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, YMCA, Kerr Street Mission, ERINOAK KIDS and The Oakville Hospital Foundation – in volunteer and leadership roles, they are very savvy about the philanthropic world. Terry, who also spent two years as the Chair of Community Foundations of Canada, highlights two important aspects of giving through community foundations: “First, if you are philanthropic and want to get started, community foundations make everything easier for you. They simplify by managing and distributing the money on your behalf. Second, even if you aren’t savvy about the local areas of need, your community foundation is. And they can pool funds to make a bigger impact when supporting those needs.”
Their children and grandchildren aren’t the only family members that the Jacksons have brought into the community foundation fold. When Bonnie’s sister April lost her husband a few years ago, she needed help dealing with the tax implications related to an increase in her assets. Bonnie and Terry introduced April to the team at The Foundation who helped April direct some of her capital gains into a scholarship for young Indigenous women, supporting work she is passionate about and reducing her tax bill along the way.
“Everyone has a different reason for starting a fund,” says Terry. “But here’s what makes doing so a good idea: it’s a way to be intelligent about your finances while promoting goodwill and goodness.”
See more great stories in our Annual Impact Report.