Training aims to grow ‘legacy’ philanthropy

Training aims to grow ‘legacy’ philanthropy

Local organizations will learn to attract wills and endowments

The Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ has been chosen as one of 15 participants for a national program meant to expand planned gifts and endowments.

A partnership between the Massachusetts-based Harold Grinspoon Foundation and JCF, the Life and Legacy training for lay and professional fund-raisers aims to increase the number of Jewish donors who designate charitable giving in their wills and estate planning.

The JCF, the planned gifts and endowments arm of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, is only the third NJ organization to take part in the training, after the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer was chosen for last year’s pilot group.

The Greater MetroWest JCF has dubbed its version of the program Create a Jewish Legacy. To explain what it offers and how it works, JCF has invited representatives of all the synagogues and Jewish agencies in the GMW region to a dinner function in Whippany on Monday, March 17.

Between 12 and 15 of those organizations will be selected to take part in the two-year program of training, counseling, and marketing support. The goal is to help them encourage supporters to create a legacy through planned giving. Financial incentive grants — worth around $10,000 for each of those years — will be given to those reaching their goals.

The deadline for applications is in April, with the selection announced in May, and the first training session to be held later that month.

JCF immediate past president Kenneth R. Heyman, a resident of Morristown, is chairing the project. “It is imperative, due to changing demographics and giving patterns among Jewish donors,” he said, “that our institutions establish strong legacy or planned giving programs to ensure a strong Jewish future….”

The CJL concept, he emphasized, applies to supporters at all levels, not just major donors. He pointed out too that their planned giving can be directed to multiple programs and organizations.

“As a community, we have been very successful at achieving strong results in legacy gifts among our largest donors,” Heyman said. “CJL focuses on a broader base of donors. Many persons who make bequests a component of their wills are smaller and longer-term contributors, and these are the ones that will ultimately make CJL a success for the participating organizations.”

“Most Life and Legacy communities have exceeded their expectations,” said Heyman. “JCF is very excited to be offering this to the GMW community.”

The keynote speaker at the March 17 event will be Arlene D. Schiff, head of the Grinspoon Foundation’s Life and Legacy program (see sidebar).

While some might fear a conflict between long-term giving and funding current needs, those involved say that focusing on the future can actually strengthen present support. “Experience has shown that people who make legacy gifts tend to increase their annual gifts,” said CJL program coordinator Karen Secular. “Caring about what happens to the organizations they support in the future makes people all the more appreciative of what those organizations mean to them now.”

Secular will organize the training sessions and support provided to participants. Synagogues and other Jewish organizations can learn more about the March 17 introduction and the CJL program by contacting her at 973-929-2918 or

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