Create giving plan that adapts to changing seasons in your life

Published on Tuesday, 24 October 2017 12:48 - Written by KYLE PENNEY, East Texas Communities Foundation

As a child with my first clock radio, I remember setting the alarm to wake me up for school with the radio tuned to KBOX, a country music station in Dallas. During the next season of my life, in high school and college, my musical interests turned to contemporary Christian music featuring Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. I still listen to Christian radio, intermixed with talk radio, but I have recently entered a new season in which I enjoy a modest amount of classic rock, including Tom Petty, Billy Joel and Fleetwood Mac.

I attended a tribute concert at The Foundry Coffee House a few weeks ago featuring the music of Fleetwood Mac. Stephanie Carter, Megan Magill and Jennifer Holman sang a beautiful rendition of “Landslide”, which is one of a handful of classic rock songs that is stuck in my head. Here are a few of the lyrics.

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?

Can the child within my heart rise above?

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing

‘Cause I’ve built my life around you

But time makes you bolder

Even children get older

And I’m getting older too

As the seasons change in East Texas, the lyrics of this song remind us all that life has seasons, too. The work we are privileged to do at East Texas Communities Foundation often centers on the changing seasons of people’s lives. As our donors explore the significant joy and responsibility of charitable giving, they are often transitioning between seasons. Many entering the fall season are seeking the answer to the question, “How can I make a difference in the lives of others?” These donors often use a donor-advised fund to give them great flexibility to support a wide variety of charitable interests. Others in this season want to recognize a significant person who has made an impact on them by starting a scholarship fund in their loved one’s honor or memory. Supporting the educational aspirations of college students is a meaningful and productive way to reflect on a life well lived, or one cut tragically short. Still others step up to address a challenge or opportunity in their community with a project fund such as the Bergfeld Park Fund or the Bullard Rotary Fund for Bullard Kid’s Park.

Some of our most joyful donors are those who are entering their winter season and confronting the change that comes as they face the future without their life partner. The widows and widowers who seek our assistance with their charitable giving are resolute in their desire to help others and leave a legacy for their family and for their favorite institutions. The Edwin A. “Blue” and Janice Owen Miller Charitable Fund for Henderson County and the Burt and Nancy Marans Charitable Fund for Camp and Titus counties are examples of two individuals, Janice Miller and Burt Marans, who finished boldly after the loss of their spouse.

One reason I never really ventured too deep into rock music was the emptiness and lack of hope in many of the songs. “Landslide” is a beautiful song with captivating music and lyrics, but in the end the songwriter’s “reflection in the snow-covered hills” is brought down by a landslide! How depressing! That’s probably why I didn’t stick with country music or get into the blues either. Many of the songs are heart-wrenching and true, but the story should not end there. There is always hope for a better tomorrow. As the seasons in your life change, your generosity has the power to create enduring support for the causes and community that are most dear to you. Creating a giving plan that can adapt to the changing seasons in your life and endure as a testament to your values may be your next best opportunity to give well.

Guest columnist, Kyle Penney is president of East Texas Communities Foundation and a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy. The mission of ETCF is to support philanthropy by providing simple ways for donors to achieve their long-term charitable goals. To learn more about ETCF or to discuss your charitable giving, contact Kyle at 866-533-3823 or email questions or comments to More information is available at .