Beni and Diana Cobaschi spread generosity through their Generosity Plan © Courtesy of Abundance Canada
By Brad Friesen, Gift Planning Consultant
It has been said that people are innately generous. From my experience, I’m not so sure if this is true. When I meet with a new donor, I always ask this initial question, “What made you start giving to charity?” The answer is always the same: my grandmother, my parents my aunt, my neighbour. Generosity doesn’t just start suddenly when we decide we have accumulated enough; it is shaped by experiences throughout our lifetime and deeply influenced by the people around us.
“Generosity is our family lifestyle, and something [with which] you inspire the people around you,” Beni Cobaschi said. It is a mindset he first learned while growing up in Romania.
“As far as I can remember, my family was very active in the church,” Beni said. “My parents and grandparents were always giving, and our home was always open to missionaries or other visitors.” He also found another positive role model in the youth leader at his church. “He would go out of his way to encourage and support the local youth, and he was very generous with his money,” he remembered. “It made me want to be like him.”
Beni was 15 years old when his family immigrated to Canada in 2001. “We arrived on a Thursday, and I went to church the next day to attend a Bible Study. I told everybody, ‘Hey, my name is Beni. Do you have a job? Do you need a worker?’ On Monday I went to work with someone laying hardwood floors in a house.” At the end of the week, Beni donated his entire first paycheque to help people struggling in Romania.
That same year, Beni met his wife Diana at the local high school, where his enterprising spirit and high ideals set him apart from many of his peers. He honed his skills and incorporated his first construction company a few weeks before graduation. The business continued to grow. Diana and Beni got married.
The young couple wanted to see more of the world, but neither felt it would be right to just spend their money on luxury vacations. They searched the web and found an opportunity that brought together their giving styles and their expertise: a trip to build houses in Mexico. That experience ignited a shared passion for short-term volunteer trips. Subsequent trips took the Cobaschis to Africa and Haiti. But they did not limit themselves to serving internationally.
The two were also keen to donate their time and resources to their local church youth group. “We have a lot of backyard space, so every summer we set up a volleyball net and we have groups of youth coming through for barbecues, pizza, just to hang out and play,” Diana said. “It’s exhausting, but that’s also very life-giving to know we facilitated something where young people can meet together in a safe environment and spend time with their friends.”
When the Cobaschi family grew to include two children, Beni and Diana decided it was time to get their wills in order. In keeping with their values, their estate plans included charitable donations. “Our lawyer mentioned Abundance Canada and told us about its services. We started talking about consolidating our donations,” Beni said. The Cobaschis created a Generosity Plan™ that not only addresses the gifts in their will but is also helping them reach their current philanthropic goals.
“Everybody makes financial goals,” Beni said. “They say the more money you make the more you spend, but it doesn’t have to be that way.” He and Diana have taken a creative approach to budgeting, their preference being to give more to charity when there’s an influx of income, rather than spend more on themselves.
Their lifestyle choices have allowed Beni and Diana to naturally model generosity for their children. “When they see that we give financially, they want to contribute too,” Diana said. A couple of years ago, each of the children chose to sponsor a child their own age through an international charity. “They each committed to giving $10 a month but they had to figure out how they would earn that money,” Diana explained. “They collected cans, they sold eggs, they did odd jobs. It is all about serving somebody else and they’ve never done it grudgingly even though they’re working for something that has absolutely no benefit to themselves.”
“You teach the generations and the people around you by how you live,” Beni concluded. “I don’t want people to say, I had a big house…I want them to say I was a generous person and I want my kids to learn from that and live out that example in the next generation.”
Beni and Diana are clients of Abundance Canada, a public foundation that helps Canadians to create simple and customized, tax-efficient, charitable gifting solutions so they can express their values through their giving. For more information about the services of Abundance Canada visit abundance.ca or call 1.800.772.3257 to speak with a Gift Planning Consultant.
Our story of innovative gift planning began in 1974 when we formed as the Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC). We started as a small team committed to helping people with their charitable gift planning, primarily serving the Mennonite community in Canada. Today, we’ve grown to over 20 staff working in four offices serving people across the country. Since our inception, we have distributed more than $310.93 million* to Canadian charities and qualified donees (*as of December 31, 2021).