By Charles Bernsen
Jewish Nashville has been accepted into a nationwide program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation aimed at helping Jewish communities across North America secure endowments and
build legacy giving into their philanthropic cultures.
Local Jewish synagogues, schools, institutions and agencies that become partners in the Grinspoon Foundation’s Life & Legacy program will be eligible for special training, marketing assistance and financial incentives to help build endowments, particularly legacy endowments that extend beyond the donors’ lifetimes.
The Grinspoon Foundation decided to bring Nashville into the program as a result of efforts by the Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, which will administer the four-year partnership and provide the financial incentives.
“This truly has the potential to transform our community by helping us develop the kind of legacy giving that will ensure its future,” said Risa Klein Herzog, director of foundation development for the Nashville Jewish Foundation.
As a general rule, a nonprofit organization should aim to get about 20 percent of its annual budget from endowments in order to remain financially secure, said Herzog, and one of the purposes of Life & Legacy is to help local Jewish organizations work toward that goal. More broadly, she said, it also will raise awareness of the importance of legacy giving within the Jewish community.
Founded 23 years ago by the real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist whose name it bears, the Grinspoon Foundation has launched a number of initiatives in which it partners with local Jewish communities to underwrite programs promoting Jewish identity and continuity in North America. Nashville already participates in two of those initiatives – PJ Library, which promotes Jewish literacy by providing free Jewish books and music to families with young children, and the B’nai Tzedek program, which encourages b’nai mitzvah-aged teens to establish philanthropic funds with the Nashville Foundation with support from the Feldman/Hassenfeld Fund for B’nai Tzedek.
Last month, after a site visit to Nashville to gauge local interest, the Grinspoon Foundation invited the city’s Jewish community to join 36 others in its Life & Legacy program, which was launched four years ago with the goal of helping Jewish organizations recognize and respond to what it describes as the
“unprecedented transfer of generational wealth” taking place among American Jewish families. Through last March, Life & Legacy had assisted 303 Jewish organizations in Jewish communities large and small to secure more than 9,300 legacy commitments with an estimated value of over $376 million in future gifts, according to its national director, Arlene D. Schiff.
As the local administrator of the program, the Jewish Foundation will invite local synagogues and virtually all other Jewish organizations and agencies in Nashville to participate, said Herzog, who expects at least 10 to accept. An initial meeting of participating organizations will take place on Nov. 17, when Life & Legacy community consultant Christine Kutnick will give a presentation on the importance of legacy giving at this moment in time for Jewish continuity.
Life & Legacy is a four-year partnership involving the Grinspoon Foundation, the Nashville Federation and Foundation, and the local Jewish institutions and organizations that participate.
Over that period, the local participants will be asked to establish endowment policies and put together a team of professionals and lay leaders who will attend training sessions and be responsible for securing a certain level of legacy commitments from members of the community.
In return, the Grinspoon Foundation, in partnership with the Nashville Federation and Foundation, will provide training about how to approach and speak with prospective donors, training in effective stewardship of endowment funds, and marketing assistance, including an annual Book of Life signing event.
The local participants will also be eligible to receive financial incentives from the Nashville Federation and Foundation of up to $22,500 over the course of the four-year program.
“This legacy program will make the most of the generational transfer of wealth, change the language and landscape of giving, and provide generous and forward thinking members of the Nashville Jewish community with the opportunity to express their passion, purpose and commitment to their most valued Jewish organizations,” Schiff said.
Both Schiff and Herzog also emphasized the cooperative nature of the program, which is structured to eliminate competition for donors among participants by encouraging legacy gifts that benefit multiple organizations and agencies. •