Arlene Cogen is a financial planner with a background in nonprofit development. Her new book, Give to Live: Make a Charitable Gift You Never Imagined, provides straightforward, thorough information about charitable giving for individuals and the professionals who guide them.
Arlene recently talked with Rose City Reader about her new book and her work:
Why did you write to Give to Live?
I began writing this book to help people understand the giving process. But, after many hours of writing, I realized it was about more than giving. It was about taking care of your family and making a difference. What I’ve written is a guide – one that explains how to make giving, or philanthropy, a meaningful and rewarding part of your life. Through the inspiring stories of people I’ve worked with, you will learn how family situations that sometimes appear to present insurmountable obstacles can be transformed and result in priceless gifts for both the donors and recipients. It’s a win-win situation, and it all begins when you make a charitable donation you may never have imagined.
What is your professional background and how did it lead to your interest in helping people plan their charitable giving?
I am a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and began on Wall Street and spent over 20 years in the trust and investment. Desiring change, and the opportunity to give back, I acquired nonprofit development expertise helping guide The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) for almost a decade. OCF is the ninth largest community foundation in the country.
I offer a unique perspective on solving challenging family situations and overcoming obstacles by adding a charitable element to financial plans. Through the creative use of philanthropy, one can provide solutions, such as engaging multiple generations in philanthropy to pass down values, life lessons, and stories; providing an income stream to a loved one; and aiding the world through benevolence.
My mom, like so many of the people I worked with at the community foundation, waited until the end of her life to experience the joy of significant giving. As I thought of the hundreds of people I’d worked with to create funds that would activate after death, I had the profound realization that we had all missed something very important. This realization would alter the course of my life; everyone should experience the joy of giving.
Who do you hope will read your book?
This book is for everyone. Whether you are new to giving or simply keen to improve your understanding of financial planning and philanthropy, Give To Live is a great resource and easy to understand. This book is also for advisors and nonprofits to use with clients and donors to open up giving opportunities.
What makes your book different than other books about financial planning?
Most financial planning books focus on money. This book integrates comprehensive planning touching on personal, financial, and legacy issues of individuals. Give to Live integrates purpose and meaning in the financial planning process. Money can buy happiness if you give to a cause you care about.
What will readers learn from your book?
Give to Live will free readers from the haze of complicated charitable jargon, break things down in understandable terms, and share ways to effectively and meaningfully include giving in your life. This book helps you learn how to pick the best advisors to help with your financial planning and how to best engage with those advisors to obtain your philanthropic, financial, and family goals.
You have an excellent website, and are also active on Twitter and Facebook. How do you use social media as an author, speaker, and coach?
Social media lets me connect with advisors and nonprofits. It keeps me in touch with clients and donors. I try to provide articles on estate, financial, and charitable planning curated for my social media audience. I also use social media to affirm leadership messages for empowerment. Every time someone says, "I really enjoy the articles you post," or "Your positive quotes make my day," it puts a smile on my face.
What did you learn from writing your book that most surprised you?
You can do anything you put your mind to. Writing this book was no easy task. I was not a natural writer. I started off as a photography major in school. No essays were required; I just had to submit pictures. With support and hard work, I accomplished what seemed like the unimaginable for me and wrote a book.
What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an expert on charitable giving?
“Always be learning.” You can learn from everyone you meet.
Do you have anything coming up to promote Give to Live?
Yes, I am running a Give to Live social media campaign and everyone can participate. To join the campaign, take a picture holding the book. Then post the picture, tag me and add the hashtags #GivetoLive and #changingourworld.
What are you working on now?
Speaking, my focus is getting this information out through advisors and nonprofits, so everyone can make a gift they never imagined.
GIVE TO LIVE IS AVAILABLE ONLINE, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER IT!