In fact, the carefully crafted rebuilding campaign launched with a community gathering at Lusher Field, where hundreds of local youth signed an "Expect More" pledge along with the Saints quarterback. This detail, a "signing day" if you will, was added by Drew and Brittany to further engage the young people on a very personal level. It is indicative of the depth of the connection that Drew and Brittany formed with this community.

Their efforts have paid off. As Brittany confidently states, "Today we know where every dollar was spent and can proudly drive around the city and say, 'Our team built that, and it is only the beginning.'"

These results require extensive planning. In the Brees' case, their "Expect More" campaign required more than eight months of preparation and
patience-a process not unusual in the business world, but all too rare in philanthropy. Philanthropic gift management should embrace the principles of sound financial management while striving to change communities and improve lives.

The Brees' approach to giving is indicative of changes in philanthropy. According to Operation Kids, there are several forces at work. One is a generational issue: Younger generations are less comfortable with simply handing over their donation to a charity. They want a more involved experience. The second issue is one of shrinking assets.  An increasing number of individuals and families have found themselves asking for the first time the pivotal question in philanthropy: "How can I achieve the most impact through my donations?" This timely introspection is peaking just when nonprofits across the nation are facing heightened demand and decreasing resources. Simply put, donors and nonprofits want and need to achieve more with every charitable dollar.

Donors who want to increase the impact of their philanthropy may focus initially on the best philanthropic structure to help meet their needs, such as private foundations, trusts or donor-advised funds.  Deciding on an appropriate structure is critical to facilitating effective philanthropy, but donors must move beyond the vehicle to address the accountability of the recipient partners and the actual use of the funds.

Philanthropic gifts that embrace the principles of sound financial management with the goal of changing communities will result in improved lives. As Winston Churchill once said, "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." It is an investment in the most important enterprise we have: humanity.

Jesse Turley is senior vice president for U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management in Greenwich, Conn.

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