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Maximizing Giving

Carol Newell

So many of us are hemmed in by traditional rules about money: you should always maximize profits; you should never touch the principal, nor talk openly about money, nor do business with friends, nor mix business with charitable concerns.

As soon as I started breaking those rules, I started having a much bigger impact.

I wanted my $25 million inheritance to have as much impact as possible towards a more just and sustainable economy in the region I love, British Columbia. I assembled a team of exceptional business and philanthropy advisors to implement a model I call “whole-portfolio activation to mission” – that is, taking wealth to its greatest capacity to stimulate change. The money has more than doubled as I’ve put it to use, and its impact has brought me enormous satisfaction.

My version of “whole portfolio activation” has three aspects:

  1. Focus on one geographical area
  2. Seed and grow businesses with innovative entrepreneurs who share one’s vision; and
  3. Form a charitable foundation (In my case, I started one to promote environmental conservation and leadership).

For a decade I did this anonymously, but now I feel compelled to encourage others with wealth to activate their fortunes with similar gusto, scale, and strategic focus. I’m telling my story to groups of philanthropists, and organizing gatherings called Play BIG to teach my method.

If we’re willing to ditch the limiting precepts we learned, those of us with significant capital can have the greatest legacy imaginable: to dramatically accelerate innovations in sustainability and social justice.

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