In late February, excitement was building, as the eleven greater Ann Arbor organizations participating in LIFE & LEGACY, finalized their legacy plans and prepared for the scheduled kick-off on March 1. Then everything came to a sudden halt. As COVID-19 forced buildings to shutter and events to move online, LIFE & LEGACY, a four-year program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF), worked with their grantees, including greater Ann Arbor, in adjusting program timelines. Now with a kick-off date of September 1, greater Ann Arbor is beginning to mobilize for the kick-off of this inspiring and vital program. While many participating organizations are dealing with unforeseen challenges from COVID-19, they recognize how essential LIFE & LEGACY is to the long-term viability of greater Jewish Ann Arbor and are committed to its success. The economic uncertainty of this unprecedented time underscores how important the creation of endowments are to the Jewish community.

Thanks to ZOOM, LIFE & LEGACY trainings are still being held, and in some cases, are connecting more people than ever before! Over 700 participants joined HGF’s annual “Create a Jewish Legacy Leadership Gathering”, held May 18-19 – three-times the normal participation rate! The lineup included ten sessions run by eight different speakers on topics related to philanthropy and the LIFE & LEGACY program. With varied sessions such as “Homer Simpson Leaves a Legacy: A Guide to Behavioral Economics and Fundraising,” and “Storytelling: The Secret Sauce for Securing Legacy Commitments and Stewarding Donors,” the conference was engaging, fun, and most of all, informative. Greater Ann Arbor participants left energized and with a better understanding regarding the incredible need and opportunity, LIFE & LEGACY offers the community.

Ellen Abramson, Chair of Jewish Family Services’ LIFE & LEGACY Team shared that the virtual conference provided “an unlikely benefit in that many more of us were able to attend than originally planned.  I was able to attend sessions on “Leadership Succession”, “Formalizing Legacy Commitments”, and “Managing Your Legacy Committee”. Just a few weeks earlier, I had agreed to be chair of the LIFE & LEGACY committee at Jewish Family Services, so the session on “Managing Your Legacy Committee” was especially instructive for me. Several members of the JFS LIFE & LEGACY Committee, as well as other board members, attended sessions.” As a whole, the LIFE & LEGACY program across North America has secured over $1 billion in legacy commitments since its inception. Greater Ann Arbor is incredibly excited and honored to participate in this program! 

For more information about LIFE & LEGACY, please contact Margaret Schreiber, LIFE & LEGACY Coordinator, at margaret@jewishannarbor.org