Philanthropy & Family Finance

Legacy plans are chance to shape the future

Tracy Salkowitz
Tracy Salkowitz

When I first began meeting with donors on behalf of the Jewish Community Foundation, I was repeatedly struck by one thing: many donors seem to have a stumbling block to making the final decision about where they wanted to leave their funds. I dug deeper and found that donors were clear on wanting to support their synagogue, Federation and/or their alma mater and favorite camp, for example, but they also wanted to participate in shaping our Jewish future.

It was with that in mind that JCF created our Emerging and Emergency Jewish Needs Fund. Only at a community foundation can a donor support unknown future needs for a specific community. Since we created this fund in 2012, so many of our donors have said, “That’s it! That was what I wanted to complete my legacy plan!” (A legacy plan details how funds will be distributed after the donor’s lifetime.)

Just as our forefathers guided their Jewish communities for thousands of years, we are confident that our future community leaders can and will make the important decisions to respond to emergencies in the Jewish community. In addition, this fund will support emerging programs that promote new ways to support Jewish engagement.

Donors were thrilled with this and then began to ask if we had a vehicle to support broader community needs, so we created our Community Impact Fund, for what is most needed today, both in the Jewish and broader community. Our Foundation has a grants committee with a wealth of experience, comprised of a broad spectrum of our community leaders. It is this group that decides which priorities are the most pressing.

Another fund, created last year, is our Israel Discovery Fund that helps support members of the broader Tucson community who want to experience Israel. We added a second part to support members of the Jewish community participating in trips to Israel. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to visit Israel acknowledges the transformative experience.

We all have different passions and rarely do we only care about one thing. For those who want to support specific organizations we are happy to arrange for that. For those who want to support their synagogue or church and two organizations and then a special cause, we can arrange for that, too. We are astounded by how creative our donors are and we are thrilled when someone comes up with a challenge that inspires us to create a new way of giving into the future.

When we meet with donors, we always start off with “Tell us about yourself.” The stories we hear are amazing. Then we work together to create a legacy plan that is inspired by each person’s life story and passions. And as our donors grow older and priorities change, we work together to revise their plans.

When thinking about your legacy, think creatively and know the causes you care about can be supported forever.

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