Meet Philanthropist Mark Lawrence

The following interview is part of Philanthropy Roundtable’s “Free to Give” series highlighting the impact philanthropy can have when Americans have the right to give freely to the causes and communities they care about most. Learn more here.

“Because of our faith, my wife and I are compelled to give but we also really enjoy it. We’ve been blessed to have unexpected income – we call it ‘lumpy’ income – from time to time, and we honestly enjoy sitting down and saying ‘OK, where do we want to give?’ When my wife and I start planning where we will give, it’s almost like Christmas; there’s that kind of joy.”

“My aunt passed away recently, and the facility where she was living was managed by a foundation. When she passed away, we made a donation to that foundation out of our donor-advised fund (DAF) because we always have a little residual sitting in there. I told them that I had gone over the night before I was going to have my aunt moved to a nursing home. She loved this facility, she didn’t want to move and, when I went into her apartment that evening, to give her the news face to face, I found her passed away.”

“She had said before, ‘I’m just waiting for God to take me home.’ It was like she dug in her heels and wasn’t going to move to a nursing home. When I shared that story with the person from the foundation, they were so moved they asked me to speak about it to their board. Occasionally, we get a note from someone on the other end of our gift, describing the impact that donation had for them. It’s so rewarding to hear those stories coming back.”

“The knowledge that we can help organizations focus on what they’re doing has shown us a lot of joy in giving. The only way we think about giving now is through our DAF. It’s just so simple and it makes things so, so much more efficient.”

“We’re selling our house and will need to donate off the gain on the sale. Well, we don’t know where that’s going to go, unlike every paycheck that comes in. We know where those are going, and we have regular recurring monthly gifts. Having the DAF does two things. One, it gives us somewhere to park that ‘lumpy’ money, and to be more thoughtful about it.”

“We have time to think about where we want to give. When we close, we won’t know where we want to give that money as far as a tax deduction, so putting it in the DAF takes care of that. Two, when it does come tax time, it makes things so much easier, because we have one receipt.”

“I’ve worked with CEOs and Chief Operating Officers who were very wealthy individuals, and they all had foundations. My wife and I don’t have those kinds of resources. I joke that DAFs are like the poor man’s foundation. It’s just super convenient for us. We don’t write checks anymore and put them in the mail – and I love it.”

-Mark Lawrence, Fayetteville, Georgia 

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