Working One More Year For Charity – Ben Franklin Style


I wrote recently about our family’s plan to save my final year’s salary in a bank account and donate it to charity in the first few years of our retirement.  Here’s a link to that post.  It’s generated a lot of discussion, but no one I’ve talked to has any examples of anyone else who had done anything similar.

Until recently …

It turns out that Mr. “A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned” – Ben Franklin – set up one of the most amazing gifts I had ever heard of.  This 1990 NY Times article details how the remarkable Mr. Franklin set aside two bequests of $2,000 in 1790 to the cities of Boston & Philadelphia.  The original gift, which I would estimate as worth almost $2 million in today’s dollars, was invested for 200 years before it could be fully paid out.  The Times reports “Franklin, who was born in Boston but moved to Philadelphia at age 17, left the money in a codicil to his will. He specified that the $2,000 be divided equally between Boston and Philadelphia for use as loans for young apprentices as he had once been. Then, 100 years after his death, part of the money should be disbursed, with the remainder given out another century later.”

The article also notes that “The $2,000 Franklin set aside came from the salary he earned as Governor of Pennsylvania from 1785 to 1788.” with Whitfield Bell, a historian and the curator of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia remarking that ”It was one of Franklin’s favorite notions, one he tried to get written into the Constitution, that public servants in a democracy should not be paid,”

According to the article, the money in the Boston trust grew to $4.5 million when it was paid out in 1990.  The Philadelphia trust amounted to $2 million.  The differences in the appreciation of the trusts was due to different investment strategies, and that the Philadelphia money was used for loans to hundreds of tradesman over the years.

The monthly paycheck I get this week Thursday (last day of April) will be the first of the final 12 paychecks I get from MegaCorp before I plan to retire early on April 1, 2016.  We’ve always given money to charities as a family, but this will be the first check I use to start savings for this special “One More Year” Philanthropic Fund.  I think I will deposit it in tribute to the wise Mr. Franklin, who once said “I would rather have it said, ‘He lived usefully,’ than, ‘He died rich.'”.

At Franklin’s final resting place in Philadelphia a bronze plaque carries a telling tribute from George Washington, who said  “Venerated for benevolence, admired for talents, esteemed for patriotism, and beloved for philanthropy”.

So appropriate that they put him on the $100 bill, isn’t it?

Image Credit: Pixabay

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