Foundation Focus: Fall 2016
JCF honors Bushman Community Endowment Program - and looks to build on its legacy
By Victor Wishna
More than one hundred fifty people gathered in the massive atrium of the Museum at Prairiefire on the evening of September 15 as the Jewish Community Foundation celebrated the conclusion of the Bushman Community Endowment program and the launch of the ongoing Create a Jewish Legacy initiative that will build on its success.
Foundation for Our Future: A Community-Wide Celebration of Planned Giving formally marked the culmination of the Bushman Community Endowment program, established in 2007, under the leadership of Stanley J. Bushman and Merilyn Berenbom, with the support of Foundation staff. The endeavor provided synagogues and service agencies with training in the tools and techniques of planned giving—the process through which donors commit a portion of their estates to philanthropy—as well as financial incentives to enhance their success.
In the program’s nine years, 18 congregations and organizations in Kansas City, Lawrence, and Topeka have taken part, and more than 440 donors have committed in excess of $40 million. “I think this is the best investment I ever made in my life,” said Bushman, a noted businessman and real-estate investor who provided key financial support to the effort over the years. “Every dollar I put in has been returned fifty times. It’s incredible what this community has done, and this is just the start.”
Indeed, one of the goals of the event was to maintain and build momentum now that the Bushman program has “put planned giving at the forefront of our communal agenda,” as Irv Belzer, President of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, explained in his welcome to the crowd. As such, the evening also kicked off the Create a Jewish Legacy initiative, a new ongoing program to promote planned giving to partner agencies and strengthen their endowments, many of which the Foundation manages. He also conveyed the many ways the Foundation can help individuals with their own charitable plans.
Belzer introduced a video that showcased some donors’ reflections on their decisions to make planned gifts. “It was a way to model what we wanted to do with our value system for our kids,” Gary Weinberg explained to the camera.
Bushman and Berenbom, both life trustees and past presidents of the Foundation, then presented a dialogue on the goals and success of the community endowment program. Berenbom also paid tribute to Bushman for his generosity and vision, as well as his attention to detail and commitment to doing the right thing, the right way. “You are a human Google,” she said. “Ask a question, and you will find the answer. You read, you study, you make educated decisions. I would call you a thoughtful philanthropist.”
Sponsored in part by the Sam and Lucy Gould JCF Program Fund, the evening also included a signing ceremony for the Endowment Book of Life, which honors those who have made a commitment of $10,000 or more to the permanent endowment of a Jewish organization or synagogue by recording not only their names but their stories. More than a dozen individuals and couples were called forward to sign as images of their pages—with photos and briefs statements about why they give—were displayed on the video board above.
Foundation leaders acknowledge that planned giving can still be a challenging concept—for donors and fundraisers.
“People seem to think that talking about planned gifts means talking about death and dying and topics they have no interest in pursuing, and we understand that,” said Executive Director Lauren Hoopes. “But, really, when you think about the kind of community that you want to leave for your children, for your grandchildren, for your friends, then it becomes a conversation about the future, about your values, about things you care about.”
Meanwhile, when organizations are worried about next year’s budget, it’s hard to dedicate time and energy to cultivating contributions that may not arrive for decades, said Josh Stein, the Foundation’s Director of Fund Development.
But Stein says organizations are realizing that planned gifts to their endowments, though seemingly delayed, are gifts that will keep on giving—and the proceeds, when combined with the commitments of many, may one day cover an institution’s operating costs in perpetuity.
And that, he says, is an equally appealing concept to donors.
“A planned gift can be the most meaningful expression of your commitment,” Stein said. “Because what you’re saying is that while I want to be involved in the community for the rest of my lifetime, I want to make sure that—beyond my lifetime—this continues.”
As the Prairiefire event wrapped up with a look to the future, Create a Jewish Legacy chair Gary Cortes couldn’t help but offer a nod to the prehistoric past. “It’s appropriate that we’re here,” he quipped, gesturing to the imposing T-Rex looming over the crowd. “His time on earth was limited, but his legacy lives on.”
This article was originally published in The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle.
You are the Foundation for our Future!
Leaving a charitable legacy is such a meaningful act, one that transcends the ultimate amount of the gift or even the organizations or programs you support. By establishing a planned gift, you connect yourself to our future, a brighter future, one that you help to create. You leave the community stronger than you inherited it. These ideals are at the core of who we are as a people.
Some of you may wonder what the Foundation’s role is in charitable legacy planning. Since its establishment in 1959, the Foundation has been the central resource to our community in encouraging “the contribution of gifts and bequests to assure that the community will continue to be served regardless of economic conditions or changing needs, to enable donors to use available tax planning programs, and to provide an everlasting memorial for the donor or loved one.” This mission was further refined in 2007 under the leadership and vision of Stanley J. Bushman and Merilyn Berenbom, who, together with the professional staff of the Foundation, established the Bushman Community Endowment Program (known colloquially as BCE). This program provided the Foundation a forum to put planned giving at the forefront of our communal agenda, with the Foundation providing planned giving training and consulting services, along with valuable financial incentives to help make this effort a communal priority.
The momentum of BCE is being carried forward by the launch of Create a Jewish Legacy. Now an on-going, core program of the Foundation, it is designed to celebrate planned givers and to educate individuals, families, agencies and synagogues about the importance and ease of creating charitable planned gifts. We hope that you will join the hundreds of other members of our community who have already committed to ensuring our future. You are the foundation of our future!
Irv Belzer, President & Lauren Mattleman Hoopes, Executive Director
Celebrating generosity at the Book of Life signing ceremony
The Foundation’s Endowment Book of Life is a collection of reflections, histories and hopes for the future expressed by members of our community who have made commitments of $10,000 or more to the permanent endowments of community agencies and/or synagogues. As part of the Foundation for Our Future event, 24 individuals participated in JCF’s Endowment Book of Life signing ceremony. Along with 246 previous signers, they inscribed their names in the Book of Life and shared their personal hopes for the continuity of our Jewish community for generations to come.
The Endowment Book of Life may be viewed in the lobby of the Jewish Community Campus or online.
Watch our new video!
Back to contents
The case for endowments
Endowments are powerful tools that can transform a community. Endowment funds at JCF continue to grow because more and more of our friends recognize the impact they can have when they Create a Jewish Legacy. Endowments can be created during your lifetime or through your estate plan. Consider the following motivations:
Durability Think about the institutions and causes you support now. Why have you made gifts of money and time? How do you envision these organizations in the future? You can create an endowment that will produce a stable stream of income for decades to come.
A Lasting Legacy When you give to an endowment, you are creating an enduring legacy that will outlive you and influence succeeding generations. Grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other family members and friends will be reminded of your values and commitment.
Perpetuate Annual Gifts You can use an endowment fund as a means to underwrite your regular giving. For example, $50,000 could create an annual “gift” of approximately $2,500, forever, to your congregation or to the communal agencies you care about most.
A Stronger Jewish Community Raising money for the “here and now” is always a priority for organizations, but annual payouts from endowment funds relieve some of this pressure and permit organizations to plan more confidently for the future.
To Create a Jewish Legacy, contact Josh Stein