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Foundation offers training in ‘legacy’ gifts
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Foundation offers training in ‘legacy’ gifts

The Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer will offer training in promoting bequests, estate planning, and other forms of “legacy giving” as one of the first organizations to receive a grant to participate in a new nationwide program.

According to the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the Massachusetts-based philanthropy that is giving the grant, only 10 to 12 percent of Jewish donors designate charitable giving in their wills and estate planning. To change that, it has launched the Life & Legacy training program for financial development professionals.

The program’s ultimate aim is to boost endowments and other “after-lifetime planned gifts” from donors.

Such vehicles, according to Sue Kline, director of Grinspoon’s Create a Jewish Legacy program, “provide an ongoing stream of support to sustain Jewish organizations long into the future.”

The JCFGM is one of seven organizations in the country chosen to offer the pilot program. On Feb. 26, representatives from synagogues, day schools, and other Jewish community organizations are invited to an introductory talk by Kline.

She will show participants how to craft a legacy plan and how to create a case statement, identify donors, and set goals. Applications to participate in subsequent training sessions must be submitted by March 8.

“Our community’s rare and distinct value has already been recognized,” said Florence Kahn, JCFGM president and cochair of the JCFGM Life and Legacy Committee, in an invitation to potential participants. “Now we can take the next step together.”

Scott Schaefer, her cochair and JCFGM vice president, said, “We are so excited to have been chosen. Life & Legacy has transformed other communities and I believe the same will hold true for us.”

Funding for the program has come from community leaders, with a matching grant from the Grinspoon Foundation. The JCFGM is seeking more backers. The program is being offered free of cost, and incentive grants will be given to selected participating organizations that demonstrate their commitment to the program.

JCFGM executive director Julie Davidson Meyers pointed out that while dealing with emergency relief or current needs might take precedence for fund-raisers, it is vital that they get supporters to think about the future of Jewish institutions after they are gone. “It isn’t an either/or situation,” she told NJ Jewish News.

The training is being offered under the auspices of JCFGM’s Create a Jewish Legacy campaign launched last May. That event was addressed by Gail Littman, then vice president for endowment and communication of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego and founder of the national legacy initiative. Littman died suddenly of a heart attack in December, but as Davidson Meyers said, she inspired people across the country with her message — that people of every income level should be encouraged to contribute to endowments.

“Continuing with this legacy-building is the best way we can pay tribute to Gail,” she said.

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