Language is wonderful. We communicate all manner of things with the written word.

My mother once wrote a note to the school I attended to excuse my absence with the words: “Please excuse David as he had mild gastrointestinal inflammation of the lower intestinal track.” It was a stomach ache all dressed up in hospital jargon. The staff at reception passed the note around for all to read and admire.

Unfortunately, her style foiled my usual habit of saving the note, clipping off the date and re-submitting it at a later date when I chose a different activity rather than daydreaming in class in school. This note was way too note-worthy to be ever used again.

I recently attended a national conference on legacy giving. They had topics that explored concepts of “informed consent” and the “capacity” of vulnerable persons; tax treatment of capital gains if you gift securities and the use of corporate dividends; thoughts on gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts. Sometimes the speaker’s best advice was to consult an expert if you are not an accountant or tax professional.

What an interesting idea. Just talk to another person.

That really was what the conference was about. Professionals connecting with other professionals and learning information that could help people who leave a legacy gift make the world a better place. The private conversations at the conference ranged from job changes, death of peers and mentors, to news of impending grandchildren. The public conversations recounted story after story of people wanting to make the world a better place. They left money for a scholarship, land for a new research centre, and a small gift to a family member so that the individual could pursue a dream.

People connecting to people revitalized weary workers. Stories of success and good news filled folks drained of emotion after a hectic year of deadlines and busyness. Sometimes the jargon floated over our heads. Sometimes it made sense and contained tidbits we could use. But in the end folks returned to their communities energized to invite others to consider what a difference it could make if more people made a bequest in their will.

It reminded me of the advertising slogan of old: just do it.

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