"At some point in life, people start to think about the things they really own, what is significant and meaningful in their lives.
Immortality is a common human aspiration, and a common motivation for philanthropy, even though there is no real way of knowing whether the outcomes of our actions will in fact remain after we are gone.
But if a person took an action that made a difference - his deed will remain alive, even when his personal aspirations are gone.
A person can lose his political influence, lose his money -- but no one can take his actions and deeds away.
From an essay, "Shrouds have no pockets," by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz