How You Help — Stories of Impact
Jewish Legacy Programs Nationwide Raise $1 Billion in Future Gifts—Cincinnati Plays a Leading Role
“It’s important for us to help ensure the future of the Cincinnati Jewish community by making our legacy commitments,” said Jim and Eileen Chalfie. The Chalfies are among 1,449 legacy donors, here in Cincinnati, taking part in the Create Your Jewish Legacy (CYJL) program. In its six years, CYJL has raised an estimated $135 million in future gifts, coming from over 1,600 gift commitments, and has helped foster a stronger Jewish community.
“It’s a testament to how strong and charitable Cincinnati’s Jewish community is,” said Jewish Federation’s Create Your Jewish Legacy Development Officer Josh Rosen. “Cincinnati might not have one of the most populous Jewish communities in the US, but it certainly has one of if not the most generous and cohesive ones. And don’t just take my word for it, Cincinnati is in the top three in Life & Legacy communities, in terms of overall number of legacy commitments, and we were the first community to reach 1,000 legacy commitments. We really punch above our weight class.”
The CYJL program began, in part, with funding from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF), The Jewish Foundation, and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. The HGF initiative is a highly selective grant and, since its creation, has motivated 17,000 donors in 63 communities across North America to commit more than a billion dollars in current and after-lifetime assets to the Jewish organizations that shaped their lives.
HGF supported the Cincinnati CYJL program for five years, providing funding for the first cohort of 12 organizations. A second cohort of 11 organizations was started with funding from only The Jewish Foundation and the Jewish Federation; however, Cincinnati continues to be affiliated to HGF.
In Cincinnati, the CYJL program helps train and support 23 different Jewish agencies, congregations, and day schools, in the area of legacy giving, to ensure the future of the Jewish community.
“The goal of the program was to make our Jewish community more financially stable,” said Jewish Federation of Cincinnati CEO Shep Englander, “but it’s turned out to be one of the most effective strategies we have found to transform a community with silos into a more connected and collaborative one.”
Englander remembers attending a CYJL seminar and watching representatives of different synagogues and agencies chatting, “They had started this CYJL training course as separate, even competing, teams,” said Englander. “But as they all succeeded in securing legacy commitments, which often benefited several organizations, these community leaders began to feel and act as one team working toward a common goal. It replaced a culture of organizational competition with one of coordination and mutual trust.”
“Now more than ever, we have a call to action within our Jewish community,” said Deb Steinbuch, Jewish Federation’s Director of Planned Giving, Endowments, and Create Your Jewish Legacy. “Making a legacy gift is a demonstration of your belief in the continuity of Jewish life for generations to come.”
Steinbuch went on to say that by leaving financial resources to Jewish agencies and organizations you care deeply about, you can ensure future generations have an opportunity to embrace Jewish heritage and benefit from being part of a tight-knit community.
Making a gift in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdowns and economic slowdown; when people are unsettled with where they are financially, health-wise, and work-wise; is a difficult decision for many people. Still, Steinbuch says legacy giving is a great way to ensure an organization without affecting your income during your lifetime. “The three simplest ways are: as part of your will, as a beneficiary of your life insurance, or as a beneficiary of your retirement accounts.” She said by giving this way, the gift will not impact your daily finances.
Endowments provide organizations with the financial stability to meet evolving needs. “Even during so much disruption and uncertainty, we continue to empower many generous and committed individuals and families to give back to the Jewish organizations that have played and are playing an important role in their lives,” said National Director of Life & Legacy Arlene D. Schiff.
Legacy commitments ensure organizations that are providing impactful programs and services during both calm and turbulent times have the necessary resources to adapt. Jewish Federation endowment professionals are available to work with you and your advisors. To learn how to be part of securing Cincinnati’s vibrant Jewish future, contact Deb Steinbuch or Josh Rosen at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.
“Hearing ‘one billion dollars’ can be intimidating”, said Rosen, but he was quick to point out that anyone can do legacy giving. “Philanthropy is not only for wealthy people; you can create a Jewish legacy no matter what your income or estate value may be. We are all responsible for the future of our community. This is an ongoing process; just because Life & Legacy reached the one-billion-dollar mark doesn’t mean we’re done. If we’re ever going to reach the two-billion-dollar mark, nationally, the Cincinnati Jewish community is going to have to work as hard as we did to help reach the first billion.”
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