Federation successfully creates a culture of Legacy Philanthropy for the Jewish Community as donors of all ages have committed to the future
For members of Generation X and Baby Boomers, the future of the Jewish Community in the Heart of New Jersey is now. Growing numbers within these groups are naming Jewish communal organizations as beneficiaries in their wills, retirement accounts and/or life insurance policies, according to Susan Antman, Federation Executive Vice President.
People of these generations are starting to think about providing planned gifts to secure the vitality of the Jewish future and their lasting legacy as a part of it, she said. “Anyone can make a planned gift without impacting their lifestyle or family’s future. With a planned gift you can still take care of your family while also leaving something to preserve the programs and organizations that you care about, perpetuate Jewish traditions that you cherish, express values instilled in you by your parents and grandparents, and convey your commitment to being Jewish. This is the beauty of a planned gift.”
Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey has completed the second year of a four-year legacy partnership program with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation benefitting local Jewish institutions. So far this Life & Legacy initiative has secured $11 million in estimated future value from 408 gifts for 16 organizations in the Heart of New Jersey community. Gifts are earmarked by donors mostly to one of nine partner organizations currently participating in the program. In addition, participating organizations have earned a total of $200,000 in cash incentives that can be used today to further their missions.
“Not only are we talking about millions of dollars in perpetuity, we’ve trained over 70 committed leaders in fundraising, marketing and the stewardship of donors; that’s a tremendous community resource,” said program chair Michael Wasserman of Highland Park. “That’s what excites me so much.” “Not only will these institutions have a healthy part of their annual budgets taken care of in the future, but they have strengthened their leadership ranks now.” I am also encouraged by the reception I receive when I meet with estate attorneys and financial planners in our community who are very open to hear about how our Jewish Community Foundation can benefit their clients when they broach the topic of making a charitable bequest.
In addition to Federation, participating institutions that earned incentives are: Congregation B’nai Israel, Rumson; Congregation B’nai Tikvah, North Brunswick; Congregation Neve Shalom, Metuchen; Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva, Edison; Rutgers Hillel, New Brunswick; Temple B’nai Shalom, East Brunswick; Monmouth Reform Temple, Tinton Falls; Jewish Heritage Museum, Freehold; and Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth. Highland Park.
“Many people/families who are very connected to Federation and our mission are also connected to several other organizations in our community,” said Antman. “The wonderful thing is that there is a strong percentage of people giving legacy gifts to multiple organizations. We’re seeing a lot of cross-pollination.” We have also reached out to other Jewish organizations in the community to assist them in beginning their Legacy programs and encourage their participation in our training programs.
Joel Weissglass, past president of Congregation B’nai Israel and leader of its legacy team, notes “the insights provided by Life & Legacy training allow us to respond to our members’ own visions for Congregation B’nai Israel, and to develop their confidence that they will be able to achieve their vision and be recognized for it, providing them with authentic engagement. The model not only fits our program, but our strategy as well. Further, from a management point of view, the training we received has taught us to think about our shul from the perspective of our members, and to be sure that we are conscious of their beliefs as we go forward.”
According to Weissglass “the enhanced stewardship efforts in years to come will be most effective in the symbiosis between the individual visions supported by our Life & Legacy program, and the engagement efforts supported by the Congregation strategic plan as it approaches its 100th Anniversary celebration in 2022. We need to generate a new commitment to involvement in the synagogue,” he said. “The benefit of inter-personal efforts in donating, visioning, and stewarding that the members of our Life & Legacy team experienced cannot be overstated, as we move our next generation into leadership, and aid them to find their vision for their own Jewish experience.”
“I have the pleasure of co-chairing two Legacy Teams,” said Eric Wallenstein, “the first being my alma mater, Rutgers Hillel, and the second, my daughter’s day school, Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva (RPRY). Each organization succeeded in meeting their goals for the initial two years of the program, resulting in a buzz about securing the future through legacy giving and building a robust cadre of Legacy Circle members,” he said. “Attending the quarterly Foundation training seminars with the many colleague institutions in our area has been extremely gratifying. Seeing the diversity of our community focus on a strategic goal has been fulfilling, refreshing and reassuring.”
“At each meeting and event, the concept of the Legacy Circle, an opportunity to make a meaningful gift in our lifetime or beyond and the easy means to join this initiative, is front and center,” Wallenstein notes. “At the heart of this program beyond the financial planning and focused prep work has been the meaningful conversations held in the dining rooms of members of our community. To sit down and understand what inspires potential donors has been awe-inspiring. To see the joy and satisfaction in their eyes as we discuss potential programs and their legacy has been nothing but humbling. I thank the Foundation and the Federation for the opportunity to build and secure the future of our community’s prized Jewish institutions,” Eric said. “I look forward to the excitement of the next two years of the program and beyond.”
“It’s easy to create your own personal legacy by signing a simple letter of intent, which is a non-binding promise to leave a gift in the future to the organization(s) of your choice,” said Antman. “Let organizations know if you already worked with a financial adviser to include them in your future plans or go to www.jewishheartnj.org to easily access contact information for participating organizations and our simple letter of intent. Click on Life and Legacy. There is no better time than now or a better place than the Heart of New Jersey to join with the hundreds of Legacy donors who already committed to the future of a vibrant Jewish Community,” said Antman. ”Combined with others, your gift will make an enormous impact on generations to come.”