While 2020 has brought many unpleasant surprises, one of the silver linings is that the Jewish community of Greater Ann Arbor began participation in LIFE & LEGACY®, through the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. This established program, that has already surpassed $1 Billion in after-lifetime commitments in the 8 years since its inception, seeks to ensure that organizations within the local Jewish community work together so that legacy giving becomes normalized in Jewish philanthropic culture.  The National LIFE & LEGACY team brings their expertise to the Ann Arbor community through an assigned adviser, and in addition makes available webinars and speakers from across North America to provide further learning opportunities.

LIFE & LEGACY is run through the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor and coordinated by local Federation staff member, Margaret Schreiber.  The program is funded by the planned giving arm of the Federation, which is the Jewish Community Foundation. Ann Arbor’s Jewish Community Foundation holds endowment funds and Donor Advised Funds, with management and investment services provided by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh.  Local representatives from the Jewish community sit on Ann Arbor’s Jewish Community Foundation Committee, where the Foundation holds endowment funds for most Ann Arbor Jewish communal groups participating in LIFE & LEGACY. The Jewish Community Foundation and the Grinspoon Foundation work together to provide crucial incentive grants to local participating organizations. For example, each participating organization that secures 18 commitments in the first year of the program receives a $5000 grant, paid 1/3 by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and 2/3 from the Jewish Community Foundation.

Legacy gifts are one way to provide sustainable financial resources in the Jewish community.  Who would have predicted 20 years ago that in 2020, the community in Ann Arbor would be impacted so greatly by a pandemic?  Imagine if our local organizations had funds that were already accrued because of past endowment investments. It would take a significant burden off future generations and we would be true guardians of B’nai Hatid (sons/children of the future.) The arrival of COVID-19 and how it has impacted the non-profit Jewish community is a perfect example: When money is left to Jewish organizations through unrestricted endowment funds, future generations will have money earned through the investments to use to help fulfill future needs.

Susan R. Fisher, the current Ann Arbor Jewish Community Foundation Chairperson, recently made commitments by submitting a “Letter of Intent” to provide legacy gifts to several local organizations. Susan explains why making a legacy gift is important to her, Leaving legacy gifts addresses my desire to have a lasting impact on the organizations which ensure that Ann Arbor will continue to have a vibrant and growing Jewish Community for years to come.”

Local community organizations participating in the program are: The Ann Arbor Orthodox Minyan, Beth Israel Congregation, Chabad House of Ann Arbor, Eastern Michigan University Center for Jewish Studies, Hebrew Day School, Jewish Community Center, Jewish Cultural Society, Jewish Family Services, Jewish Federation, Temple Beth Emeth and University of Michigan Hillel. These groups have started conversations with their loyal members about making Legacy Gifts and are on the way to meeting the benchmarks set out by the LIFE & LEGACY the program.  All team members are invited to participate in the National Trainings that are organized by LIFE & LEGACY.

To learn more about LIFE & LEGACY, contact Margaret Schreiber at 734-773-3538 or Margaret@jewishannarbor.org