By Lee Chottiner
As LIFE & LEGACY – a national four-year program that encourages after-life gifts to Jewish organizations through incentive grants – surpasses the 500-commitment mark in Louisville, leaders here have learned that it’s not a four-year program after all.
The Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF), which initiated LIFE & LEGACY, is extending the program for participating communities by an additional four years.
The extension means an additional pool of matching gifts for partner for communities across North America. In all, $12.5 million is expected to be delivered to the communities.
The program extension is called LIFE & LEGACY PLUS.
“We’ve moved the needle everywhere in four years,” said National Director Arlene Schiff, “but there’s more needle moving that needs to happen for legacy giving to become a norm…. We hope eight years does the job.”
The announcement came at the 2022 LIFE & LEGACY/Create a Jewish Legacy Leadership Gathering, which was held virtually in May. More than 400 Jewish professionals attended.
Philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, founder of HGF, believes extending LIFE &LEGACY can assure legacy giving takes root in the Jewish world, according to Schiff.
“This is a culture change,” she said, “and these things take time.”
Under the terms of the program, participating organizations can earn incentive grants from HGF if they meet certain “benchmarks” for legacy giving by their members.
Legacy gifts are donations made by donors that take effect after their deaths, either by including an organization in their wills or making it a beneficiary on their insurance policies.
But under LIFE & LEGACY PLUS, the communities will set their own benchmarks, drafting work plans in which they lay out things to do to strengthen legacy giving where they live
Once HGF approves the work plans and releases funding, the plans will be implemented.
The funds will be released based on a 2-1 match by the community: HGF will give up to $50,000 per community in the first year, matched by a $100,000 local commitment; up $45,000 in the second year (a $90,000 match); $40,000 in the third year (an $80,000 match); and $35,000 in the final year (a $75,000 match).
The matches come from the Jewish Federation of Louisville and the Jewish Heritage Fund, which have partnered with LIFE & LEGACY.
“The LIFE & LEGACY initiative in Louisville must not be taken for granted,” said Sara Klein Wagner, president and CEO of the Jewish Community of Louisville. She said that 349 donors, have already joined together “to ensure the love they have for Jewish life in Louisville will continue to grow and thrive.”
In Louisville, LIFE & LEGACY has generated 514 after-life commitments as of May 19, supporting nine local synagogues, schools and agencies to date – the equivalent of $12.2 million in future estimated gifts, according to the local coordinator, Jennifer Tuvlin.
In turn, those gifts have released $372,324 in incentive grants from HGF.
“Once again, Louisville’s Jewish community has demonstrated its generosity,” Tuvlin said, “514 legacy commitments in under five years demonstrates that our community wants to preserve our Jewish institutions and ensure they have a vibrant future.”
Nationally, HGF has helped its partner communities secure more than 34,000 legacy commitments, valued at over $1.3 billion. Of that amount, $149 million has already been placed in organizational endowments.
Started in 2012 to “normalize” legacy giving and to build cultures of giving within Jewish organizations, LIFE & LEGACY today operates in 73 communities across North America and is still open for new ones to participate.
HGF settled on the extension after commissioning Rossoff, a California-based consulting firm, to evaluate LIFE & LEGACY. Rossoff interviewed at least half the organizations that finished the four-year program, along with coordinators and organizations, before recommending that more work be done to sustain legacy giving.
Grinspoon, Schiff said, believes legacy giving is a positive power that can sustain Jewish communities, and he wants local givers to experience that power.
“Harold is committed to the power of legacy giving,” she said. “He knows how meaningful being a philanthropist has been to him. He wants to give others that opportunity.”
Asked if this will be the only extension of LIFE & LEGACY, Schiff was noncommittal.
“Harold is generous,” she said. “Harold is always looking at what is needed to have an impact and reach our goals.”