By some estimates, the United States could see an intergenerational wealth transfer of up to $50 trillion over the next 30 years. In Douglas County alone, the projected wealth transfer is $30 billion by 2050.
That could mean tremendous implications for the local philanthropic community, said Matt Darling, interim president of the Omaha Community Foundation.
“We expect, locally, that a higher percentage of what could be transferable wealth will actually be given to philanthropy,” Darling said. “We’re a connected community. We care differently. There is great financial support for philanthropy and for nonprofits in Omaha. But more than that, it’s a desire for effective giving — giving that is going to change the tide and be beneficial to the entire community. That’s not something you see everywhere.”
More than 3,000 501(c)(3) nonprofits operate in the Omaha metro area. The Omaha Community Foundation exists to raise them up collectively. It does that, in part, through Omaha Gives, an annual online fundraising challenge.
The Foundation also serves as a connector and resource for donors and nonprofits alike. Darling believes effective giving happens when you combine an individual’s charitable passion — whether that’s economic development, religion, the environment, poverty or some other cause — with knowledge.
“Knowledge is something that helps an individual, corporation or family ensure their dollars are being infused in the community in the most effective and impactful ways,” he said.
OCF’s most prominent way of conveying community-based knowledge is through The Landscape, a project that incorporates publicly available data, policy reviews and insights gathered through direct engagement with residents in and around the metro area.
Darling explains: “It’s distilling this larger body of largely academic information into easily digestible and understandable points of information: What does a real living wage look like? What are our greatest health needs? How can neighborhoods improve?”
Crucial to the success of today’s and tomorrow’s nonprofit sector, informed, effective giving is also key to personal legacy-building efforts, which are often guided by planned giving or legacy-giving strategies.
“This is where deep-rooted passions to change the world or the community are fully manifested and are injected into the community. It’s where people look to make what is arguably their largest charitable gift,” Darling said. “When people think about their final wishes, it crystallizes their passions. It’s really incredible to see.”
Not sure where to start with your legacy-giving plan? Darling suggests grabbing a pen and paper and mapping out your vision.
“Don’t worry about the specifics or the minutiae. Focus on the big picture and tackling what you, as an individual, want to tackle,” he said. “When you’re really dreaming about that philanthropic legacy, almost anything can be done. There are so many partners in Omaha — not just OCF — that can help. Dream first and then we can figure out the specifics as time goes on.”
To help put those philanthropic dreams into action, OCF suggests working with a professional who has a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy, or CAP, designation. The Foundation partnered with financial adviser Mark Weber, a SilverStone Group principal, to launch a class that, over the last eight years, has helped more than 100 local professionals become CAP-designated.
“Clients feel more empowered, by working with CAP advisers, to pass their wealth to their children and to our community with thought and meaning,” Weber said.
As a result of the CAP class, advisers are connecting with their clients on a deeper level, helping them identify their values and incorporate them into their planning, Weber said. He believes, like Darling, that the projected wealth transfer is only going to elevate the region’s nonprofit community.
“We have an extraordinary number of generous people here,” Weber said. “There is a tradition that you are, in a sense, not measured by how much money you make but how much you give.”
The Omaha community, Darling said, is one of the “most charitable in our country.” An ultimate hope is that through effective giving “wealth can be a catalyst to ensuring that Omaha cares about its neighbors for generations to come.”