Making a will is hard work

When you don’t have children, and you don’t have much family that is close to you, it becomes quite difficult to figure out what to do with whatever is left after your own death.

In my case, obviously everything goes to my fiancee in the event that something happens to me, but not to her.  However, if something happens to both of us it gets a lot more complicated.  This is really the first time I’ve given thought to how I want whatever assets I have left to benefit friends, family and humanity.  It’s a tough balancing act, and one I’m not sure I can ever be comfortable that I got "right".

In giving some thought to this one thing I want to do a bit of is give something to charity.  That however also turns into quite a bowl of monkeys since so many charities spend so much money on administrivia and not on helping the people they claim to want to help.  This led me to thinking about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – clearly they don’t need to spend a huge portion of donations on administration, but they are reluctant to take donations and request that you donate directly to the recipients of their grants.  Also any donation I left would probably just be able to pay for their daily coffee bill so… 


Maybe I’ll just leave everything to a grant to fund monkey fights or something.

Of course at the end of the "day", if I didn’t get it "right" I’ll still be dead, so maybe I should set it up so that whoever I leave it to has to perform some really embarrassing task to get the money.  Maybe monkey / human fights!  Yeah, that’s the ticket!  Give the monkey a gun and the human a banana and see how it works out.  Woohoo!  I have a plan!

One thought on “Making a will is hard work”

  1. First off, let me start by hazing you for using a comment system that requires a microsoft ID and immediately limiting (perhaps purposefully) your audience.Anyway, you bring up an interesting topic that is a major challenge for a lot of people and one that I\’ve spent the last 18 months studying.  Questions like; "how do I do I know which charities are good and which are bad?, which charities will put my money to best use?" are hard ones to answer and there really aren\’t any good tools out there available to "joe sixpack" (couldn\’t resist).  If you are extremely wealthy, or are part of an institutional giving institution, you have the option of leveraging some of the major think tanks that make up foundation advisory boards that make these decisions for a living.  Finding a great charity to support is an incredibly time consuming process that most of us lack the time or resources/connections to go through.
    That however isn\’t why I responded to this post.  What compelled me to respond was the sentence above referring to administrative costs.  There is no question that some orgs run leaner than others and some have infinitely more efficient business models and are therefore able to execute their mission more effectively.  However, what nobody likes to think about…and what people have such a tough time accepting is that nonprofits, like their for profit counterparts, must spend money on what you term as "adminstrative" in order to be successful.Here is a challenge I\’ll throw out there for you…would you invest in a for profit organization that didn\’t invest its people, didn\’t invest in systems, and didn\’t invest in all the core things that business require to keep the lights on?  The answer is of course no.  The nonprofit sector is always under pressure to keep costs low and faces the public opinion that they should be able to create miracles on a shoestring budget.  This pressure has caused many nonprofits to class operational/admin expenses as program expenses. 
    I have talked at length with the heads of over 100 nonprofits in the last 6 months and probably close to 150 in the past 12, and can tell you that in almost every case what the program/admin expense ratio that most nonprofits claim is far from reality.  After you analyze enough 990s, it becomes very easy to see where they juggle numbers to help give them the ability to tell you "Hey..99cent of every dollar you give goes to programs."
    Anyway, the only point I wanted to make here is that funds used for operational are every bit as critcal to the success of a nonprofit as funds used for programs…it\’s just not as sexy to say so.
    You know how to reach me if you want to discuss this more.

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