Foundation helps donors give more to charities

Peter Nicholson, the president and founder of The Foundation (WCPD)

Peter Nicholson keenly understands that it pays to be strategic with how you give.

The president and founder of The Foundation (WCPD) has built his career around helping businesses and private donors maximize their charitable gifts.

“We create wealth, we preserve wealth and we help clients donate wealth,” he says.

The Foundation helps its clients make the most of their donations through philanthropic tax planning, namely with a combination of resource flow-through shares, an immediate liquidity provider and charitable tax credits. By combining two long-established tax policies (flow-through shares and tax receipts), donors can essentially pay their taxes to their favourite charities.

Nicholson and his team work with donors all across Canada.

“I don’t know if people need education as to the mechanics of philanthropic tax planning as opposed to just more education on the outcome, and that it is not a risky proposition,” says John Anderson, a partner at Stikeman Elliott and a generous donor via The Foundation (WCPD). “Seeing the spreadsheets that show what happens, and how it works, is not so exciting. What is exciting is being able to give far more to charity. That is easy to understand and resonates with people.”

 A golden age

Philanthropy is one of humanity’s oldest practices.

But according to Nicholson, in the modern era, it is now one of the most rapidly changing sectors in our economy. He explains that more and more individuals and foundations are seeking innovative ways to maximize their giving. Most donors are acutely aware of the rise of social impact investing, for example, which looks to take a more investment-level approach to philanthropy while delivering greater accountability.

Nicholson notes that many of his clients are also motivated by the spirit behind The Giving Pledge, a joint effort between Melinda and Bill Gates as well as Warren Buffett. The pledge calls on the world’s richest people to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes, either during their lifetime or in their wills.

Since the campaign’s inception in 2010, an ever-growing number of individuals and families have taken the pledge, including George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, and Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

“When clients start to really get involved in philanthropy, in a lot of ways it becomes even more enjoyable than making the money in the first place,” says Nicholson.

How it works

In an age where so many entrepreneurs and professionals are finding success in their fields, those with philanthropic ambitions are looking for ways to make the biggest impact they can.

“This is the golden age of philanthropy,” says Nicholson.

Through The Foundation, donors can be assured they’ve made a major difference to a cause of their choosing.

“I think I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world,” says Nicholson. “I help people increase their donations, usually by a factor of three times.”

In its 12 years of operation, The Foundation has filed more than 3,400 personal tax returns using its flow-through share structure. Over 4,500 cheques have been issued by the WCPD Foundation, the firm’s donor-advised fund, to charities in Ottawa and across Canada.

The Foundation’s team of accountants and tax planners help clients every step of the way, ensuring the best results for their donation.

To learn more about how The Foundation can help maximize your gift, head to