The Right Tool for the Job

In 1917, Julius Rosenwald, president of the Sears Roebuck Company, used $70 million of his personal wealth to form the Rosenwald Fund. Rosenwald chose not to endow this fund, but rather decided that all of the $70 million was to be used for charitable purposes so that by the year 1947, the Fund would be gone. Rosenwald explained that he wanted to avoid “the tendency to bureaucracy” and other shortcomings that he saw coming with permanent endowment funds.

Some people today agree with Mr. Rosenwald and donate substantial amounts of money to establish funds that are to be used up in a set period of time. This year’s Federal Budget changed rules governing foundations to make these types of gifts easier for foundations and charities to set up and manage. Perhaps this is why we see more articles recently in the media advocating for self-depleting funds like the Rosenwald Fund.

But not everyone agrees with Mr. Rosenwald’s theory that permanent endowment funds automatically bring bloated bureaucracy whose sole purpose is “to prolong their existence indefinitely.”  As proof of the vibrancy of the custodians of permanently endowed funds, we can turn to foundations such as the Winnipeg Foundation, celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and continuing to support the Winnipeg community vigorously and with great positive effect.

So, should you endow your philanthropic gift in perpetuity as many Canadians have done? Examples of these permanent endowments would be: the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, the Metcalf Foundation, and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation.  Or should you set up a self-depleting fund as Mr. Rosenwald did?

My advice is this. Since you have the option of using either means to achieve your philanthropic goals, I suggest that you use the one that will work best. Is there a specific problem that you want solved? If so, then set up a fund that will be finished when the task is completed. If your cause is one that will continue in perpetuity, then set up the fund to match. You even have the option of using both types of funds if you have the financial resources to do so.

Great Place to Leave A Legacy logoI have one more suggestion for you. Since community foundations have the expertise in establishing the types of funds that will best achieve your philanthropic goals and since they have the widest range of options to offer each donor, why not use them as the stewards of your funds? Remember, community foundations are great places to leave your philanthropic legacy.

Sincerely,
Glenn

Glenn StresmanGlenn Stresman is the Executive Director of the WindsorEssex Community Foundation and has over 20 years experience in both writing and evaluating grant applications.

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When I Least Expected it – Kindness Appeared

When I least expected it – A Random Act of Kindness Appeared!

For the past year, I have been encouraging people to consider doing random acts of kindness. I have read many reports detailing the good things that have happened through the program we put in place last November. Yet I was flabbergasted when I was the recipient of the very thing I have been advocating.

Allow me to explain. I had just settled down for a five-hour flight on Air Canada. I was in the window seat in the last row of the crowded plane – seat #37A. When the flight attendant brought the snack cart by, I thought that I would buy a bag of cashews and offered the attendant a $5 bill as payment.

“Sorry sir,” she said. “Credit cards only.”

I thought to myself that this was no way to do business. Why should I use my credit card for such a small purchase? So I decided that I would protest by not buying anything. Then my seatmate took out his credit card and bought me a bag of cashews. When I least expected it, a random act of kindness appeared!

In retrospect, what so surprised me was the result of this simple act of generosity. For the rest of the flight, we had an extended conversation about many things. This gentleman went out of his way to make my day better and I was touched by it in a very positive way. To use and old adage, he made my day.

Random Act of Kindness Day logoWe are just starting to plan for Random Acts of Kindness Day 2011. While we use a single day to highlight caring, I am pleased to report that generosity happens every day in any number of good deeds done when people least expect it. Count me as one who has experienced it personally!

 

 

Glenn Stresman

Glenn Stresman is the Executive Director of the WindsorEssex Community Foundation and has over 20 years experience in both writing and evaluating grant applications.

 

 

 

 

Check out these sites for more information on Random Act of Kindness Day: