9 Ways To Preserve Your Legacy


1) Donate.

Start a scholarship, give a micro loan, or support a local charity. These options are typically done in the name of the donor, which is a small way of your name being commemorated. Beyond having your name engraved on something where you donated, you’re helping to create something bigger than yourself. Those donated dollars will eventually outlive you as they make a difference in the lives of generations of people who you’ve helped.

For the biggest benefit, try to get some time volunteering “hands-on” with the charity you donate to. Money is a big help—sure—but the biggest emotional and spiritual benefit often comes from helping people directly. Working side-by-side with those who you’ve helped will also mean that your donation will have a more profound personal connection to your recipients.

As those recipients celebrate new milestones in their lives, your name and face will be remembered for making it possible for them. That’s legacy.

ABC’s reality show, “Secret Millionaire,” captured this type of legacy seed-planting in every tear-filled episode during the years it aired. Unfortunately, the show only ran from 2008 to 2013, but the spirit behind the show can live on with all of us. In each episode, the millionaires’ lives were forever changed as they witnessed firsthand the impact they had made for the recipients of the non-profits where they volunteered. Below are a few charities that could give you the same experience as the donors in the “Secret Millionaire.” Best of all, you don’t need to have millions in the bank—or a camera crew following you around.

    • http://mainstreetphilanthropy.org/
      This non-profit inspires future generations to become passionate philanthropists by teaching them how to qualify a worthy non-profit and then feel the goodwill of donating to it.
    • http://www.art4healing.org/
      This non-profit offers unique classes and workshops for abused women, injured veterans and their families, critically ill children, and homeless families to process the pain of life’s difficult circumstances through art and creativity. Imagine taking the same workshop as the people you’ve sponsored and watching their breakthroughs firsthand.
    • http://www.kiva.org/ 
      This non-profit assists struggling entrepreneurs in third-world countries with micro-loans that help them to become more independent and contribute to their communities. While this option is more difficult to interact with the recipients first-hand, it can definitely make your donation money go a long way.
    • https://www.volunteermatch.org/
      Find a non-profit near you where you’d like to volunteer. When you find an organization that resonates with you, give them an unexpected donation.

One of the donors from the ABC show “Secret Millionaire” surprise his fellow volunteers with a generous donation to support their non-profit


2) Create an online family tree.

As the living person most knowledgable about your family history, you might possibly be in the best position to embark on a journey back through time. This would be a way of tracing your lineage of ancestors back as many generations as you can remember. Ancestry.com is the most well-known and one of the highest rated websites for doing this. 

In this scene from the TLC show “Who Do You Think You Are?,” actress Zooey Deschanel is touched to discover her ancestors’ commitment as abolitionists


Build your own family tree with geneology websites like ancestry.com. The basic features are free, but the more advanced tools require a paid membership

In a comparison of the top  10 genealogy websites, Ancestry.com earned the highest overall score. Its strengths include features such as 15 billion searchable records and documents dating back as far as the 1300s.

To get started using their free online family tree software is easy. Just go to  http://trees.ancestry.com/ and you can get up and running with just a few pieces of information.

After trying it out ourselves, we found it was fairly user-friendly. It could make a perfect class project for son or daughter to interview older relatives and help them to trace back family roots to start building the details of their online database. Once the family tree is started, future generations can continue building upon it and enjoy having more information to pass down…