Author and entrepreneur, Andreas Souvaliotis, on his “no brainer” gift to Windmill
Published August 29, 2019.
Andreas Souvaliotis founded the world’s first eco-rewards program, known as Green Rewards. He is an author, social entrepreneur and thought-leader in business, marketing, and impact ventures. An immigrant to Canada from Greece, Andreas sits on the board of Windmill Microlending and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. Together with his husband Joe Gisini, Andreas is a guarantor, investor, and donor to Windmill Microlending. Last year, he and Joe made an extraordinary commitment to Windmill by naming Windmill Microlending in their wills. I had the opportunity to talk to Andreas about this planned gift and the legacy he would like to leave.
Jeni Piepgrass: Andreas, tells us a bit about you immigration story and what it means to you to live and work in Canada.
Andreas Souvalitotis: My entire life has been defined by the fact that I immigrated to Canada – being an immigrant is a fundamental part of my adult persona, my DNA. While I wasn’t running from extreme poverty, I was definitely moving from a developing country to the prosperity, diversity and inclusiveness of Canada, so I’ve made it one of the key missions of my life to protect and promote those unique attributes of our beautiful country.
JP: Philanthropy becomes a passion or priority for people in different ways – when and how did it become a focus in your life?
AS: My specific focus is on generating positive impact in society through my work. I created my first social venture a dozen years ago, almost entirely by accident. I was simply following my entrepreneurial instinct when I built a business that happened to also make the world a better place. It turns out that first venture (and the one that followed a few years later) stood out and competed better because of its obvious and authentic social impact. It was so much easier for a business like that to attract employees, clients and investors, because that’s how the world is tilting and that’s what everyone is looking for now. I’m not sure I would call that philanthropy — but I’m definitely, and incurably, focused on impact in everything I do or build.
JP: How did the idea to leave a gift to Windmill in your will evolve? Was it complicated?
AS: Creating a substantial gift for Windmill in our will was what I like to call our “double-layered no-brainer” decision. The first layer simply has to do with my chronic references to Windmill as our ‘no-brainer’ charity – I would challenge anyone to show me another charity that generates such incredible social returns with so little (or no) risk! Layer two is the notion of gifting money after you’re gone from this world — money that you’ll certainly never need again! Planned gifts are so simple and require absolutely no lifestyle compromises. Think about it — you get the immediate reward by feeling proud, fulfilled and celebrated, but the entire “bill” is deferred until after you’re gone from this world.
JP: What would you like your legacy to be?
AS: I want to be remembered for how I helped create positive impact in the world, and how I shared that knowledge or inspiration with others. Making a planned gift, for me, is a way to achieve both – it will create a whole bunch of social good and it will also light the way for others to do the same.
JP: What advice would you offer someone who is thinking of leaving a legacy by making a planned gift?
AS: Just go ahead and do it — it feels great! It’s simple and it doesn’t even have to involve any complex calculations or projections of your future net worth. You can just designate a percentage of your estate to be donated to Windmill (we actually pegged our donation at 10%) and you don’t need to spend another minute wondering or worrying about how much money will be in the piggy bank when you go. You’ll simply be celebrated today for having assigned a meaningful portion of your final fortune to this beautiful cause.
For more information about how to support Windmill Microlending with a planned gift, please contact: Sarah Stuewe – Manager, Philanthropy and Investments at (416) 360-4445 ext. 412 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Andreas’s best-selling memoir, Misfit, is available in stores now.