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By Tharan Leopold, Regional Gift Planner, ELCA Foundation

Lottery Fever has once again swept over the nation recently. The promise of suddenly winning unimaginable wealth for the small price of a lottery ticket is tempting. Maybe you are one of those who can’t resist at least imagining the outcome. You may dream about the good you would do (“If I won, I would…”), using this new wealth, not just for personal pleasures but to make gifts to loved ones and donations to your church and other favorite charities. 

But do you have to win the lottery to make a major gift that will have a large impact? When you think about your gifting, you may only think about the money in your bank account. You give generously out of your cash flow and savings – the same source you use to satisfy your daily needs. But did you know that people just like you have made the largest gifts of their lifetime without writing a check and without affecting their cost of living?

You may not realize it, but your wealth, the gifts God has entrusted to you, includes much more than just your bank account. In fact, if you are like most people, your checking and savings only represent about 10% of your total wealth. The rest is tied up in your home, retirement savings, life insurance, real estate, stocks, bonds, and other assets – the things you’ve worked a lifetime to accumulate. 

I know what you’re thinking: “But I need those things to live on.” True. But the time will come when you no longer need those things. It may be the time you realize you no longer use that cabin or vacation home. Or the time you see your savings are above and beyond what you need to live. It may be the time you put together a plan for when you no longer need anything at all – the time when your life on earth is done, and you go on to claim your Christian reward. That plan can, and should, turn those possessions into gifts of a lifetime – gifts that make a real impact and a bold statement of your values. 

It may be possible for you to use these things you’ve accumulated to make a future gift. And maybe that gift can also create a guaranteed lifetime income stream for you and up to one other loved one. That’s a winning ticket!

Any of these gifts are likely to be the largest you ever make. And they can be made without ever changing your lifestyle. You don’t have to be a lottery winner to make these big, bold, deeply impactful gifts. You just need a plan. 

If you’d like to explore how you might give gifts like these. please reach out. I’d love to help you explore your hopes and dreams. Together we can turn them into a plan. It’s better than a lottery ticket. It is turning the blessings God has given you into blessings you can give.


Tharan Leopold is a Regional Gift Planner with the ELCA Foundation serving the Southeastern Minnesota Synod area. His services are free, confidential, and without obligation. He can be reached at The information provided here is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal, investment, or tax advice.