Annette and Jim © Courtesy of Abundance Canada
When Jim and Annette started their life together, they knew that they wanted to continue living out the values they had learned growing up. “We both come from families that believe service and generosity are an integral part of life,” Annette explained. Over the years, this commitment to giving has helped guide everything from careers to parenting to how they spend their free time. “We don’t honestly have to make a conscious decision about [generosity],” Annette said. Instead, it is a part of the rhythm of their daily life.
“To grow generous young people, you have to lead by example,” Annette said. “It doesn’t matter what you say—it’s always what you do.” So, Jim and Annette involved their children in giving back to the community from an early age. The family volunteers extensively, each giving time to organizations close to their hearts. “I’m a big believer in supporting local initiatives and giving back to the community that you live in,” Annette said. “It’s much easier to see the results when you have a local project… and it breeds more charity.”
This commitment to the local community extends into their careers, as well. “We’re very lucky in that we have service jobs, so generosity kind of goes part and parcel with our professions,” explained Annette, who has built a career as a surgeon and physician specializing in women’s health. Jim works as an investment advisor with one of Canada’s major financial management firms and owns a large-scale joint-venture farm. When it comes to sharing the fruits of their hard work with the charities they care about, Jim and Annette appreciate working with Abundance Canada.
“Being in business, I see the stress families are under thinking about [the business side of generosity], trying to walk through it and getting lawyers and accountants together to figure it all out,” Jim said. “Abundance Canada covers off a lot of those steps.” Jim and Annette’s donor-advised fund (DAF) makes giving efficient and straightforward, allowing them to focus on the joy of being generous. Jim said, “Abundance Canada takes care of things.” He goes on to explain that they use the foundation’s services beyond managing their DAF, but also their charitable bequests and finding tax-efficient ways to support their favourite charities.
And just like volunteering, Jim and Annette are keen to share this experience of giving with their children. “Everybody’s financial capabilities are different, but that shouldn’t be a stumbling block in their generosity,” Jim said. Their children learned from an early age that privilege comes with a responsibility to care for others, and Jim and Annette made a point of involving the whole family in financial giving decisions. However, Jim is clear that living generously involves giving a combination of money, time, and talent. He said, “Writing a cheque is a fine thing, but there should be more to it than that.”
Over the years, Jim and Annette have seen the impact of their generosity many times. When serving as board chair for the local Ronald McDonald House, Jim often saw the impact that charitable giving had on families in Saskatchewan. He recounted, “I have countless stories of families staying at the house going back to their small towns and organizing a fundraiser to help other families staying at the house.”
Jim tells of one young girl from rural Saskatchewan who contacted Ronald McDonald House a few months after the conclusion of her treatment. She had turned around and raised $115K for the charity. “For a twelve-year-old to do that, it was a little overwhelming,” Jim said. “It reminded me that not only my dollars, but my time and energy have been spent in a good place.”
In June of 2017, Annette participated in a city-wide fundraiser to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people experiencing poverty, homelessness, and chronic illness. During the fundraiser, Annette lived on the streets for 36 hours with no ID and no money, wearing only donated clothes and shoes, bereft of any personal belongings (except a phone to document her journey).
“It was a very life-changing experience to go from being somebody who has a Visa card, drives whenever I want, and gets a lot of respect in the community, to panhandling and having people literally run away from me because they were afraid of me,” Annette said. “It was only 36 hours, but it was very pivotal in terms of seeing someone else’s perspective. It gave me a whole different mindset in terms of generosity and how you treat people that you see on the street.”
Considering the generation of generous people coming up behind them, Jim and Annette are optimistic about the future. “We’re very lucky that our kids are growing up in a generation where they will try to change the world. It’s a very natural thing for them.” Annette said. “It doesn’t have to be onerous. It doesn’t have to be your life savings. It’s reflected in all that you do.” Jim concluded with an encouraging challenge to people of all ages and stages of life: Whether it’s making a donation or volunteering at a charity, generosity starts with just getting out there and seeing what you can do to help.
Jim and Annette are clients of Abundance Canada, a public foundation that helps Canadians create simple, 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).