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For the Love of Humanity

November 15, 2022

Found in Community,  General

When Robert McLean is asked why philanthropy is important to him, he reflects back. Way back. Back to Ancient Greece. The word philanthropy comes from the Ancient Greek word philanthrōpía, meaning ‘love of humanity’. To Robert, this is a powerful reminder of why we are here and why giving back is so important.

From an early age, Robert’s family taught him that giving back, especially through volunteerism, was equally as important as earning a living.

Robert’s father Dr. David McLean worked at BC Cancer for over 30 years as head of dermatologic oncology, Chair of the skin tumour group, and as head of cancer prevention. Throughout his life, Robert met people who were grateful for his father’s management of their cancer and continuing risk of new cancers. This experience fostered his steadfast support for the BC Cancer Foundation.

“Growing up in that environment left a lasting impact on me, knowing the increasing prevalence of cancer and hearing the stories of how it affects people’s lives. It’s easy for the individual donor to feel like their contribution isn’t moving the needle, but when you get to see the dollars at work and hear the stories from patients and families, you realize that every dollar makes a difference.”

His support for the Foundation was also motivated by the loss of a close friend to an undiagnosed brain tumour while studying at UBC.

“Tom was an amazing person, full of potential and ambition. His passing taught us that cancer does not discriminate based on age or character.”

Shortly after this loss, Robert signed up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer (now Tour de Cure), which has led to him earning a five-ride golden helmet, several ambassador jerseys and lifelong friendships within the BC Cancer community.

Now an investment professional at Connor, Clark & Lunn Private Capital Ltd., Robert views his role as going beyond portfolio management and specializes in working with philanthropists to maximize the impact of their personal charitable giving.

Robert recently deepened his relationship with the BC Cancer Foundation and was a catalyst for the creation of the Trusted Advisor Circle, which came to fruition this fall. The Circle is a group of lawyers, accountants and financial advisors working to strengthen the Foundation’s philanthropic relationships within British Columbia’s professional advisor community.

As Robert explains, there are many advisors who can benefit from learning how philanthropy can be incorporated into their work. For those in the financial services industry, he suggests getting their Master Financial Advisor in Philanthropy (MFA-P™) designation and joining the Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP).

“Moving charitable giving from an afterthought to the forefront of planning has a lasting impact, not just for the client but for our society as a whole.”

He notes that donors are often very good at sporadic philanthropy – making a donation here and there or supporting a friend’s Tour de Cure ride. But what he envisions for clients is a more strategic, efficient, and intentional approach when it comes to charitable giving.

“Through strategic philanthropy, we can achieve tax efficiency while creating lasting legacies which will ultimately be profoundly impactful. To me, that is true success.”