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With Just 5 Percent: Support the Causes that Matter to You, Forever

By Jennifer Owens


After Mary Mathews’ parents died, she decided she wanted to honor their memory in a way she knew they would appreciate.

They provided support to the community in so many ways, so she wanted to do the same.

When I met her, we discussed how she and her parents adored animals and advocated for a variety of causes that protected them from abuse. After looking back on her fond memories of her parents, she identified that the Harry and Helen Barnes Jewell Fund would support organizations that seek to end abuse in all of its forms and projects that help children overcome the life-altering effects of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Mary is just one of a growing number of Central New Yorkers recognizing the importance of keeping their charitable dollars in Central New York. A study commissioned by the Community Foundation found that $22 billion will change hands from one generation to the next before the start of the next decade, much of it leaving the community to heirs living out of town.

Mary wants to encourage those who are interested in having a significant impact on the causes they care about to start their planning now.

Take a moment to think about what matters to you. Perhaps it’s the schools your children attend or the hospital where you receive care. It could be the park where your grandchildren love to play or a local charity that is a big part of your life. What could you do to make sure things that matter to you and your family have a secure future, long after you’re gone? How can you help ensure that future generations will benefit from the resources in our community?

If a portion of those assets transferring between generations were donated to endowment funds at the Central New York Community Foundation, more than $55 million in grants would be available annually to support the region’s nonprofit organizations. For reference, the Community Foundation currently deploys more than $9 million per year in grants. That means six times more support into the community each year! This kind of boost could provide a permanent source of funding for local organizations and causes that will greatly improve the lives of families, friends and future generations.

A common myth is that philanthropy is only for the immensely wealthy. But including a 5 percent gift to the community’s charitable endowment is achievable for anyone, allowing you to still benefit your heirs while leaving a long-lasting impact in the community that helped attribute to your success.

Legacy giving can be something as simple as a bequest in your will or involve something more complex that allows you to provide for your loved ones, reduce taxes and support worthy causes at the same time. Community Foundation staff can help walk you through your options to find the right fit.

But even more importantly, Community Foundation can ensure your charitable intentions are documented, essentially creating a roadmap for your future philanthropic efforts, which will serve as a way for successive generations to access your charitable intentions and inspirations even after you are gone.

Capturing this information makes our community stronger, builds pride in the region and keeps the stories of generous people from dying with them.

Think about the dramatic positive impact if there was an increase in donations to local charities. It could mean improved health and human services, more initiatives to care for children and teens, new arts and cultural endeavors that drive economic development and increased attention to our neighborhoods and education attainment ­ resulting in a better quality of life for anyone while preserving the memory of our loved ones for generations, just as Mary is. Learn more at http://5forcny.org.

Jennifer Owens is vice president, development and marketing at the Central New York Community Foundation. She can be reached at 315-422-9538 or jowens@cnycf.org.

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