As the holidays approach, it’s a natural time to reflect on the meaning of generosity. While today’s needs should rightfully capture our immediate attention, it is inevitable that tomorrow’s needs will make an equally compelling case. Like most things in life, there is a place for striking a balance between these competing interests. In the world of philanthropy, this balance is achieved through the use of legacy giving.
What is legacy giving? How does it work? Can anyone do it? These are a few of the questions I considered as I thought about the upcoming Money Series presentation by Phil Ellis, Executive Director of the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation on how people can create a plan that supports the causes that have shaped their lives or those of their loved ones.
Legacy giving is about extending into perpetuity your passions and causes in ways that can benefit those who will inexorably follow in your footsteps. When legacy giving is done well, it’s a wonderful thing to see.
Compelling stories of legacy giving jumped off of our community foundation’s website as I perused the long list of local charitable funds. In a world of unfiltered cynicism, it was frankly a refreshing exercise to undertake.
For example, Andrew Shotwell, attorney with Smith & Johnson, recounts his experience from the planning through the giving stage of the Ernest B. Isaacsen Scholarship Endowment. Mr. Isaacsen was awarded our local Chamber of Commerce’s distinguished citizen award 67 years ago. His story certainly shows the power of legacy giving. So much so that Mr. Shotwell’s musings about how those charged today with choosing scholarship recipients often say, “What would Ernie think of this application?”
Other stories include those of Cleo Purdy of Central Lake, who had a passion for providing enriching experiences for young children and their families. Following her death, her planned giving now supports playgroups, preschool and the literacy of young children in our region. In another example, following the passing of Karolina Holtrey in 2000, her legacy giving still provides ongoing support for Frankfort’s library, senior care, and various other educational opportunities in her former community. Finally, Traverse City’s own Dr. Ken Taylor believed in the need for excellent and available health care for everyone. Since his passing, his daughters have worked to ensure that his guiding vision extends well beyond his lifetime.
To learn about legacy giving, join Phil Ellis on Wednesday, November 16 at 6:30pm for his presentation for the Front Street Foundation’s Money Series held in the McGuire Room at the Traverse Area District Library. Front Street Foundation is a nonprofit with a commitment to provide open-access to financial education, for all. Visit FrontStreetFoundation.org.