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A Gift That Keeps On Giving

By Jackie Jacobs

Some people are repeat givers.  They like to give to certain charities every year….perhaps because of a commitment to the charity’s mission, a sense of obligation, a gesture of gratitude, or maybe simply by force of habit.

Whatever the reason (and there are many) the notion of continuous and lasting gifts is appealing to certain people.  I imagine such individuals to be akin to the good-natured souls who bestow fruit-of-the-month-club or book-of- the month-club memberships to their family and friends. Each time a goodie package is delivered, the sender’s love and special sentiments get renewed and reinvigorated in the best of ways.

A similar “redundant good” occurs when people establish endowments for the benefit of their favorite charities. Endowments are funds structured to keep on giving through good times and bad.  Consistent, long term giving is the reason people establish endowments. The desired result is to support the charity in perpetuity.  How?  The fund principal cannot be spent.  Only the fund income can be expended.  Simply put, the fruit can be harvested, but cutting off any of the tree limbs or harming the roots is verboten.

Consistency is the desired result.   Endowment earnings are generated for the charity’s benefit year in and year out.  Depending of the donor’s instructions, the earnings can be used for a specific purpose or for general expenses.

Creating an endowment is not complicated.  It can be built up over a period of time with a series of gifts- cash, securities, real estate, or other assets.  Or they can be established through an estate gift.

Endowments can be named to honor an individual or family.  The endowment’s activity is tracked and reported periodically, so the donor – and family, if desired – can be kept aware of how the investments performed and how the earnings were used.  A strong endowment portfolio is a key indicator of the quality and financial strength of a charity.  When well-managed, endowments maintain their purchasing power over time and serve as a guard against inflation.

Perpetuating annual gifts and creating a lasting legacy are among the benefits of a charitable endowment.  Best of all is the personal satisfaction. It is highly fulfilling to do something that makes a significant and lasting impact on the lives of others – which is why I so often advise donors to “endow now.”

Article appears as originally published in the Ohio Jewish Chronicle, June 11, 2015

Jackie Jacobs is the Chief Executive Officer of the Columbus Jewish Foundation, the Central Ohio Jewish community’s planned giving and endowment headquarters.

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