Investing in the future

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Today I’d like to comment on the recent release of the 2021 Transfer of Wealth Study from Nebraska Community Foundation and LOCUS Impact Investing. As was made clear during both the launch event on Nov. 15 and the keynote at NCF’s Annual Training in McCook on Nov. 18, this study has considerable impact on all Nebraskans!

The study considers the wealth that will transfer from one generation to the next. There is always an intergenerational transfer as parents pass away and leave their estates to their children, but this is a unique opportunity in terms of the scope of the transfer that is happening now. To quantify that, the study estimates that in Nebraska more than $100 billion will transfer from older to younger generations through the upcoming decade. Yes, that’s billions with a “B” and that’s just in this decade!

Over the next 50 years, the figure swells to $950 billion.

I know those are ridiculously large numbers, so let’s break it down to just our area. Just take a moment to consider the numbers I’m about to share.

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In Platte County, $1.7 billion is estimated to change hands in the next 10 years! Just this county, just in the next decade. In Boone County, it’s just shy of $600 million. Colfax County’s estimate is $673 million. In Butler County, the estimate is $815 million. I think it’s clear that whatever challenges we might have, lack of assets isn’t one of them!

Because the numbers are so massive, there’s no reason for this to be an “all or nothing” conversation. Parents can and should provide for their children or other heirs. But if the heirs no longer live where they grew up those critical resources can leave our Nebraska hometowns entirely. Put simply, once the money is gone it’s usually gone forever. But once it’s put into a local endowed fund, then it’s here forever!

So, what if just a small portion of that transfer of wealth were given to the hometowns where the wealth was created and those children grew up?

If just 5% of this decade’s transfer was set aside in Platte County, our county would have $85 million to do important community work. In Butler County, 5% represents $41 million of local community investment. That’s just 5% of the transfer just in this decade!

This isn’t some far off point in the future. This transfer of wealth is happening now – and the clock is ticking. That’s both good and bad. Good, because we could have these resources working in our hometowns sooner than it seems. It’s bad only if we miss the window of opportunity that will inevitably close.

I didn’t pick the 5% number at random. With the study’s release, NCF launched the “Five to Thrive” campaign, which urges Nebraskans to consider leaving just 5% of their assets to their local NCF affiliated fund’s unrestricted endowment or other local charity. In total for Nebraska, doing so would amount to more than $5 billion in the next decade – and $47.5 billion over the next half-century.

Just imagine what could be done in any of our towns if we have a $50 million endowment 10 years from now! As the study illustrates, that’s an achievable goal in any of the counties in this region. That’s on the order of $2 million, every year, to improve education, health, quality of life…anything the community can dream about! That’s the kind of margin of excellence that attracts young talent and grows our communities!

So what should you do to make sure your hometown grabs this opportunity to change your future? Get involved, talk to your neighbors, make your own gift to your hometown and share this opportunity with anyone who’ll listen. And if you would like some tools to use, you can learn more about the transfer of wealth and how you can get involved in this massive opportunity at www.fivetothrivene.org.

K.C. Belitz is the chief operating officer of the Nebraska Community Foundation.

K.C. Belitz is the chief operating officer of the Nebraska Community Foundation.