Philanthropy does not always make the list of critical priorities when planning for the future, a process often dominated by other pressing needs like education and retirement. Yet for those blessed with some success, and financial resources that exceed what we need to survive, philanthropy can be a way to give back, pay it forward, or just do something good for other people.
Philanthropy – Goodwill to fellow members of the human race; the effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind, as by charitable aid or donations.
The Central New York Community Foundation is celebrating 90 years of philanthropy in Central NY. The slogan for the celebration is “Here For Good,” which is intended to carry a double meaning – here to make the community a better place and here for the long term.
Community foundations now serve communities across the U.S., and it has been my privilege to serve on the board of The CNY Community Foundation, where I have been able to observe first-hand the impact it has on people’s lives. It is now responsible for a pool of charitable capital that surpasses $226 million. Over the course of its history nearly $170 million has been invested in the Central New York community. That history includes many stories of transformed lives and improved communities. Some of those stories are told in a recent publication and are also available online at: https://cnycf90.org/.
The Community Foundation plays a role in some big, community-wide initiatives, like “Say Yes to Education,” which provides a path to college for Syracuse City School District students. Say Yes funds several support programs and after-school programs for school students and ultimately funds last-dollar college scholarships for those who go on to college. The Community Foundation provides leadership for many aspects of the program and administers the Say Yes Scholarship Endowment Fund, which is now fully funded at $30 million.
The act of giving can be very rewarding, as we see the impact on those less fortunate, or envision the impact on future generations. The Community Foundation can help donors work through the process of creating Legacy Plans that identify their motivations for giving, document their giving stories, and preserve their charitable legacy. One such story is told in the 90th Anniversary publication about the Martha Fund, established to honor Martha Blumberg, a bright, talented young woman who died far too young. The Martha Fund was established by her mother’s will to honor Martha’s zest for life, and since 2013 the fund has awarded nearly $300,000 to support children’s art programs, health services and learning activities.
It is easy to lose sight of philanthropy amidst our day-to-day struggles, so when you do hit the pause button, and make plans for your financial future, keep in mind the resources available to make philanthropy a part of your legacy.