Many of you may have heard about Warren Buffett and Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge, where billionaires have pledged to donate the majority of their fortunes to charity.
I’ve come up with a similar idea, except this one applies to more people and is something you can do when you are alive: the Social Security Pledge. If you are wealthy enough, you can invest part or all of your Social Security proceeds in a favorite charity, foundation, church, synagogue, or other good cause. You don’t have to limit yourself to giving to non-profit organizations that are tax deductible. You can give your Social Security check to any organization, public or private, or to individuals. You can donate it to your favorite political party. You can give the funds to a student scholarship — for your grandchildren, for example — or to somebody who has a medical need. Or you can invest your government check in free enterprise. Buy shares in individual stocks or mutual funds. Or, better yet, fund inventors who could use the money to advance their work.
There are lots of possibilities. Be creative and have some fun with it. Don’t let the money sit there. Put it to good use!
Banking technology has made it simple and efficient to invest in good causes. Use an online banking service. Make a list of how much money you wish to give to each organization or cause, so that donations equal your monthly Social Security check, or whatever amount you feel comfortable giving. Then inform your bank of the names and addresses of the organizations and how much you wish to donate to each. Your bank will do the rest by automatically sending the organizations a check each month. You can change the organizations and amounts whenever you want. It’s that simple.
The Social Security Pledge has enormous potential to help charitable organizations, enterprises, and movements grow.
For more information, visit the website I’ve created: SocialSecurityPledge.org.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, once gave a popular talk called “The Sermon on Wealth.” According to Wesley, if you take the following three steps in life, you will be eminently successful:
1. Work all you can.
2. Save all you can.
3. Give all you can.
Notice he didn’t say, “Spend all you can.” Too many Americans have gotten in financial trouble by overspending and getting in over their heads in debt, so that by retirement time at age 65, they need Social Security because they haven’t saved enough in their company pension plans or individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Or they have to keep working to survive.
As retirees, we can make a difference.