News

Jan
9

Making a Difference Starts with Making Connections

Filed Under: Philanthropy - Posted @ 12:22pm

Chris Harvey and Kate Larsen moved to Tacoma a little over a year ago from King and Snohomish counties. They brought with them a deep commitment to supporting their community.

This is a community we can personally subscribe ourselves to and invest ourselves in as we take the time to learn about it. It’s extremely exciting to me.

Chris recognized a familiar spirit in Tacoma, “it reminded me a lot of communities I have lived in before where the level of self-awareness and willingness to directly confront issues in the community is very high. This is a community we can personally subscribe ourselves to and invest ourselves in as we take the time to learn about it. It’s extremely exciting to me.”

Chris and Kate connect with community needs and opportunities in many ways, including participating in public meetings. After several meetings, Chris noticed a common commitment to listening, Here is the leader of some organization or here is a city council person, or here is the mayor, and I have heard many times that leader say back to a question, ‘let me talk to you after we are done.’ There is a chance to really connect.”

As the new director of Tacoma Public Library, Kate sees the community’s challenges through her job, “it is a reflection of what’s going on in society. Whatever is happening outside is happening in our doors as well. It is easy to see the impact the housing crisis and the drug crisis have had on urban areas in Pierce County.” Her job also puts her in contact with people who want to help, “no matter where we are in Tacoma, there are a ton of people that see there are problems and want to make a difference.”

According to Chris, making a difference has been a goal for a long time, “we both have been charitable, but we just never had this giant ball of money. Like a lot of people, we talked about if we won the lottery, we would give so much to charity. Well, by selling two houses at the peak of the market, we hit a lottery compared to the experience of a lot of people out there. Now, we are doing what we said we were going to do if we ever won the lottery.”

Recently, Chris and Kate opened a Donor Advised Fund to help fulfill their philanthropic goals. Donor Advised Funds are the fastest growing giving vehicle in the country. A hybrid between a private foundation and giving directly to charity, Donor Advised Funds enable individuals to donate cash and non-cash assets, like real estate, and then have the money grow over time as they choose where and when to direct the funds to charitable causes. It’s a tool that offers immediate tax advantages as well as the flexibility to develop a longer-term giving strategy.

For Kate, the Donor Advised Fund, “was a tool that could be used in a shorter term, as opposed to building an endowment over our lifetime. We felt like we would want to make contributions sooner, rather than later, but also still have a place where some seed money might sit and build over time. That could potentially be more powerful over time rather than just a one-time gift to a couple of different organizations.”

Kate sees the many opportunities for connection in Tacoma as the starting point for everyone to make a difference and build a stronger community, “if you would just take a second and think about how you might make an impact, then our collective impact could be really powerful.”