Set up your own foundation for favourite charities






Billionaires Bill Gates, above, and Warren Buffett, below.

Warren Buffett is doing it, and Bill Gates has been doing it for years. Increasingly people across the world are looking for ways to use their wealth to help charities — and that includes many Canadians.

In fact, a recent survey sponsored by Mackenzie Investments showed Canadians would be willing to donate an average of $117,000 if they won a million dollars.

But charitable giving isn’t just for millionaires anymore. Traditionally you needed to contribute around $1 million to set up your own private foundation, but now you can start a donor-advised fund for much less.

In fact, donor-advised funds are an affordable, simple way for Canadians to support charities close to their hearts. Donors can deposit cash, stocks or other securities to their fund, and thanks to changes in the 2007 federal budget, pay no capital gains taxes on any publicly traded securities donated to the charity. This is a great tax benefit, and one that does not currently apply to gifts made to private foundations.

Here’s how it works: An individual, a family or a company can create and name their own donor-advised fund and determine which charities they want to support each year with grants from the fund. They can leave a lasting legacy by naming their children as successors to their fund.

Mackenzie’s donor-advised fund allows for a minimum deposit of just $25,000.

"Donor-advised funds allow you to leave a lasting charitable legacy regardless of your net worth," says Brad Offman, assistant vice president, Strategic Philanthropy for Mackenzie Investments. "And setting up a charitable gift fund can help maximize the potential of your donation over time. If you have the means and the desire to influence the philanthropic landscape, this is a great giving option."

To learn more about donor-advised funds, visit