Local | Philanthropy & Family Finance

A journey from pushke to philanthropy

Tracy Salkowitz
Tracy Salkowitz

When we were little, my friends and I put our coins in a  pushke, a little metal box with a slit in the top, to raise funds for the Jewish National Fund. I remember thinking that I was personally helping to plant trees in Israel. It filled me with pride. Would the trees have my name on them? Would there be a plaque?

The world of philanthropy has evolved  and we now have strategic and tax-advantageous ways to make contributions to worthy causes. It can be overwhelming.

One of the challenges in working for the Jewish Community Foundation is language. We use so many different phrases for the same thing, it is no wonder that there is confusion.

So what’s the difference between a bequest and an endowment? And what the heck is legacy planning?

A bequest is when you leave something in your will. You bequeath Aunt Martha’s ring to your daughter, your pool table to your son, and your house and cash assets to all of your children divided equally, with maybe a little something going to the grandkids.

As you are thinking about this, you might start to think about your synagogue or alma mater or the camp you attended growing up. “Hmm, I wonder if there is a way to provide ongoing support to that camp for future generations?” There is indeed.

Think of a bequest as an outright gift. In your will, along with Aunt Martha’s ring, you can give a gift of whatever amount you’d like to the camp. They will be thrilled and most likely spend it immediately.

If, however, you’d like to give an annual gift in perpetuity to the camp, you could set up an endowment fund with the Jewish Community Foundation, which grows over time.

Let’s say you have given $500 to the camp every year, and you’d like to keep doing that after your lifetime. If you set up an endowment fund in the amount of $12,500, the camp will receive a distribution of approximately $500 from your endowment fund each year in perpetuity. The chances are good that the amount the camp receives will grow as investments grow, because the Foundation uses a very prudent approach.

A legacy plan is what we call the document that is crafted to carry out your charitable wishes. Legacy planning is the process that leads to the development of that document. We’re experts in this arena! During this process, we learn about you, what you care about, and your goals. Since JCF is a community foundation, we can offer you a lot of flexibility. You can, for example,

• Fund one-time or perpetual gifts to charitable organizations and/or synagogues;

• Fund your areas of interest, such as camperships, senior services, or trips to Israel;

• Set up a scholarship or award fund to honor someone important to you.

We help you fulfill your philanthropic wishes, during and after your lifetime. You probably have a CPA and an attorney; why not consider a philanthropic advisor as well? We’d love to be your partner.

Tracy Salkowitz is CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona. She blogs at www.tracystreks.com. More JCF information: www.jcftucson.org, Facebook, Twitter and 577-0388.