Building a Legacy

Building a Legacy

Through a Donor Advised Fund at Calgary Foundation, the Rickbeil’s are supporting the needs of community and shaping the family’s philanthropic legacy.

Story and photo by Jennifer Friesen

After serving as President of Western Electrical Management Ltd. for nearly 20 years, Ken Rickbeil and his wife Frances wanted to get more intentional about their philanthropic giving.

“We were acquiring enough wealth that we’re saying, we need to do something with it – but what do we want to do?” recalled Ken.

Ken and Frances established the Rickbeil Family Fund at the Calgary Foundation in 2016 and have appointed their children as successor advisors. As Donor Advised Fundholders, they contribute a sum of money that is invested and managed by the Foundation to grow the capital of the Fund and increase the annual charitable disbursement.

Ken and Frances meet with their sons, Aaron and Todd and their families, each year to thoughtfully consider which organizations they will support.

“The unique part of the Fund is that you have the capital of your Fund, and you get to give away some of the interest every year – over and over again,” said Ken. “I think it’s good for our kids and grandkids to see. They see they’re making people happy, and it teaches good character.”

This past year, the Fund granted nearly $220,000 to a variety of community organizations, bringing them to a total of $630,000 granted since 2016.

The family has directed most of their grants towards organizations aiding animals, children, and elderly populations. They were notably impacted by Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids program, which Todd and his fiancée are passionate about supporting. Following their first grant, they received a letter detailing how the lunches ensured no child went hungry.

“That program in particular made quite an impact on us,” said Frances. “They were very explicit on how the funds were used and how many kids they fed. When you get responses like that and see how your money is impacting lives, it’s amazing. You’re not just putting a cheque in the mail and never hearing about it again. You see how it makes a difference.”

By establishing this Fund, the Rickbeil’s are also creating a legacy for future generations of their family and helping to manage the transfer of wealth. Approximately 90 per cent of families lose generational wealth within three generations, but legacy planning through charitable giving is a vehicle to preserve that wealth for the benefit of the community and pass down family values.

The family Fund has grown throughout the past six years, thanks to strong investment performance and regular contributions to the Fund. In 2016 the family had $40,000 to distribute, and this past year that amount had grown to more than $260,000.

Calgary Foundation provides the Rickbeil’s with granting inspiration. Ken said it’s been “a real eye opener” to see the variety of charitable programming happening in the city.

As the family gathers to discuss charitable needs, Ken and Frances said that everyone brings their own ideas to the table, and they’re “blessed” to be able to share this with future generations – a sentiment shared by their sons.

“Philanthropy was introduced to me by my mother and father,” said Aaron. “It is an avenue to display which causes we believe in and leaves a lasting legacy for our family. Philanthropic succession planning is important to our family because we feel that values are not instilled with words or speeches – actions are the best way to demonstrate the values of our family, namely empathy, caring and sharing.”