Philanthropic Solutions: Leaving a Legacy

Regions Wealth Management is helping private foundations pour millions in support into local communities.
Jun 14, 2024 10:00 AM ET

By Dana Obrist

We all want to be remembered for our time on this Earth. Creating a lasting legacy gives us the ability to continue to make an impact even after we are gone.

Imagine a trust, set up more than five decades ago and funded with approximately $2 million with the intent of helping those struggling with food insecurity, housing insecurity and domestic abuse. Managed well and having already provided more than $40 million in grants to nonprofits, that initial $2 million investment is worth around $40 million today.

Imagine the lives improved by the ongoing good will of a life well lived – and a commitment to giving back that will continue to enrich the lives of others for decades to come.

“Designed to help high-net worth individuals and families, private foundations and nonprofit organizations build a legacy of giving, our Philanthropic Solutions group brings together Regions’ depth of experience in charitable giving, nonprofit administration, and investment leadership,” noted Marcie Braswell, Regions Philanthropic Solutions executive.

Braswell, recently named to lead Regions Philanthropic Solutions, has been part of establishing the giving stories for individuals, families, and nonprofits for more than a decade. And Regions has been in the business of helping create giving legacies for more than 75 years.

In fact, with the help of Regions Wealth Management team, more than 300 private foundation accounts have poured hundreds of millions in grants into communities throughout the bank’s 15-state footprint and beyond.

The Impact of Private Foundations

“It is so rewarding to sit down with a client who has the desire and means to give money to support the causes closest to their hearts,” said Braswell. “From zoos, educational institutions, and religious organizations to community organizations reaching the elderly, homeless and food deserts – knowing the long-term desires of clients wanting to help make life better is incredibly impactful.”

When Braswell and her team sit down with clients seeking to create a private foundation, the initial goal is to really understand the mission or legacy that the individual or family is seeking to create. There is significant flexibility in terms of defining the impact.

It is so rewarding to sit down with a client who has the desire and means to give money to support the causes closest to their hearts.

A private foundation is an independent entity that does not qualify as a public charity. This is because private foundations receive funds from limited sources – typically a single individual, family or corporation – as opposed to receiving funds from the public.

“There is a limited number of parties involved with funding a private foundation so there can be greater scrutiny for certain asset classes used for funding as they relate to the contributor,” noted Jeff Winick, Private Wealth Management senior wealth strategist in Birmingham.

Creating a Private Foundation: A Few Things to Consider

From where to focus the giving to who will be involved, Braswell recommends thinking about the following as you consider creating a private foundation.

  • Do you want the foundation to have a specific focus, such as education or healthcare, or do you want it to be much broader?
  • Do you want the impact area to be limited in terms of geography?
  • Do you want to engage your family? For instance, would you like to include your grandchildren in a next-generation committee?
  • Would you like for the board/committee to include local community leaders?
  • How would you like future board/committee members to be selected?

From tax benefits to greater flexibility and control, a private foundation allows for family involvement and the lasting benefits of leaving a family legacy. Bringing children and grandchildren into the conversations about family philanthropy is a great step in financial education.

“The role of Philanthropic Solutions is to guide our clients in establishing the right charitable vehicle to achieve their goals, managing the assets to create that lasting legacy, and helping our clients tell their story – now and for decades to come,” Braswell shared.