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Romi and Tyler Ward in the Roy Thomson Hall lobby

Millennial Generosity

An Interview with TSO Legacy Circle Members Tyler and Romi Ward
June 7, 2023

Right up there with learning a new language, running a marathon, and writing the Great Canadian Novel, preparing your will is something that’s notoriously easy to put off. Unsurprisingly, most people aren’t eager to contemplate their mortality, especially if they see more days ahead of themselves than behind. But estate planning isn’t just about ensuring that the people we love are taken care of when we’re gone; it’s also a tremendously effective way to contribute to the causes that matter to us—and more and more Canadians are realizing this well before their golden years.

Romi and Tyler Ward are millennial philanthropists. The Toronto couple chose to dedicate a portion of their estate to a variety of charities that are close to their hearts, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, making them members of our TSO Legacy Circle. Recently, Romi and Tyler were kind enough to share their reasons for embracing planned giving in their 30s and what it was about the TSO that inspired them to make us a part of their legacy.

Why is the TSO meaningful to you both, and why do you feel it’s important to support the future of this organization?

We have had a lifelong passion for classical music and music in general. We played instruments in our youth and enjoyed being in the school orchestra. As young adults, we participated in the TSOUNDCHECK program [offering affordable tickets to TSO patrons ages 15 to 35], which exposed us to many special performances. We love how the TSO is reaching young audiences this way, and reaching neuroatypical individuals and their families through the Relaxed Performances. This indicates to us that the TSO is an organization that is thoughtful, aware, and working to remove barriers to participation.

The arts form an integral part of society, allowing people to lead fulfilling and enriching lives. Music is a necessary form of creative expression that unites people. We chose to leave a legacy gift because we want the TSO to continue to grow, reach an even larger audience, and make music more accessible. 

Tyler, how did your upbringing influence your decision to include charitable giving in your estate planning? 

My early experiences discussing social issues with my family helped shape my understanding of poverty and social inequities in Canada and the importance of contributing what one can to help alleviate the situation. I was motivated to include charitable giving in my estate to ensure future generations benefit from my legacy gift.

Romi, can you share a bit about your own background and how it has influenced your views on giving?

I hold an MA in Counselling from Saint Paul University in Ottawa. During my education, I attended a talk on the social determinants of health, which was highly influential to me personally. Many social problems can be better understood through this lens and it also provides a framework to build a healthier and happier society. It’s wonderful to see how the social determinants of health are becoming part of our public discourse in so many areas. My husband and I wish to support charities that are working to foster social justice and health. The arts are an important contribution to wellness in our society.

Why do you think millennials are increasingly interested in legacy giving, and what would you suggest to other members of your generation who are considering this step?

From unaffordable housing, rising food costs, unstable employment, and salaries that do not keep pace with the ever-increasing cost of living to record numbers of Torontonians using food banks, millennials are acutely aware of growing social inequities because they either experience them or witness them daily. Many excellent resources are available online to help people learn more about legacy giving or getting a will. For giving ideas, the Toronto Foundation publishes an annual guide called Good to Give on impactful charities in our city  Another great resource we have used over the years is Charity Intelligence which evaluates the effectiveness of charities in Canada. 

Tyler, you noted that people often think they don’t have anything to leave in a will. How can we dispel this misconception? 

Many believe that they must be wealthy to leave money to charity, which simply isn’t true... Any amount of money, no matter how small, can benefit a charity. For instance, it is common for some employees to have life insurance policies included in their workplace health benefits, and they could leave a small portion, even 1%, to charity. Alternatively, an individual could allocate a few thousand or even a few hundred dollars to several charities. If all Canadians in this position did so, it could result in substantial additional dollars flowing to charities.

Unfortunately, most Canadians do not have a will, which is a missed opportunity to leave money to important social causes that could benefit from additional funds and lower the estate taxes upon death. 

Romi, what do you think would encourage more people, particularly younger generations, to start planning their legacy?

There is a need for broader public-awareness campaigns specifically targeting millennials, to educate them on the importance of legacy planning at an early age. Will Power is an example of an organization that is helping raise awareness. Also, more affordable resources are needed to allow millennials to easily access a lawyer or financial planner who can advise on estate planning and legacy giving. 

When you prepared your wills, what process did you follow?

Our first step to making a will was contacting our lawyer. We also contacted the legacy giving branches of Canadian charities to which we wished to leave a gift. They informed us of the language to include in our wills, guaranteeing our legacy gifts will go to the causes we care about. 

In addition to the TSO, are there any other organizations or causes you both feel passionate about and donate to regularly?

Daily Bread Food Bank is a charity we feel passionate about because they are actively engaged in distributing food to those in need and also in advocating for social change, because people shouldn’t need to depend on food banks. We recently completed training to start volunteering at the Daily Bread warehouse in Etobicoke.


Our CEO, Mark Williams, has said that it's devoted audiences who keep the legacy of the TSO alive. As we reach the end of our monumental Centennial Celebration and embark on a bold new beginning in Year 101, please consider including the TSO in your will. There’s no time like the present to invest in the future—no matter where you are on life’s journey.

For more information about including a gift to the TSO in your will, or making the TSO a beneficiary of a life insurance policy, please contact:

Emelita Ervin, Senior Development Officer, Legacy Giving