How to Invest in the Future: A Parable of Ben Franklin

North Parish had been operating for 145 years in 1789 when Benjamin Franklin amended his will to include two substantial legacy gifts. Franklin’s example provides a lesson in how to use resources to shape a better future.Benjamin Franklin had unusual insight when he created two legacy trusts in his will.Recognizing the power of compound interest, Franklin prescribed trusts to last 200 years and earn 5 percent annually by making micro loans to young men completing apprenticeships who wanted to start their own businesses. He placed the trusts with the cities of Boston and Philadelphia, which oversaw the growth of the funds while also supporting hundreds of young entrepreneurs and funding multiple city projects for two centuries.In 1904, the Boston fund was matched by Andrew Carnegie to form the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, still operating today as a college committed to offering “innovative, practical and entrepreneurial education resulting in career-ready, productive and civically engaged citizens.” In 1990, Franklin’s Philadelphia fund was directed to the Franklin Institute, a major science museum in Philadelphia.The impacts of Franklin’s legacy gifts have been huge over the past 232 years. Why were these gifts so successful?

  • He allocated funds to purposes that reflected his vision and values.
  • He placed funds with long-lasting organizations to manage his gifts.
  • His funds were augmented, over time, with those of others who shared his interests and values.
  • He outlined wise investment policies, with returns that compounded in value over long periods time.

Many of us at North Parish have pooled our resources with others in the North Parish Endowment, to grow at compound rates over the coming years. We trust in the enduring values maintained at North Parish to ensure that those resources will be used at times and places where they will best benefit the world. You, too, may wish to consider making a gift, or a legacy gift, to the North Parish Endowment to be part of a growing investment in the future of our community, our nation, and our planet.To learn more, see:North Parish Planned GivingStephan A. Schwartz, Ben Franklin’s Gift that Keeps on Giving