Anyone can make a difference for our community. Need proof? Take a look around. The Puget Sound Jewish community is thriving, thanks to previous generations that cared enough to invest in Jewish life — supporting Israel and Jewish communities everywhere, helping the less fortunate, creating learning and cultural opportunities, and passing on Jewish values to the next generation.

Paying it forward will ensure that Jewish life will be just as vibrant when today’s children poring over PJ Library books or getting ready for Jewish summer camp are tomorrow’s community leaders. Investing in Jewish life for the future is the foundation of the LIFE & LEGACYTM Program, which the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle operates in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Through LIFE & LEGACY, 13 local Jewish organizations are receiving tools, training, and incentives to build endowments through after-lifetime giving.

After-lifetime gifts are an effective way to pass down Jewish values and sustain Jewish life for years to come. Legacy giving is an egalitarian enterprise, open to anyone, regardless of means.

“Everyone can have philanthropic aspirations, even if their name is not on a building,” says Tammy Dollin, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s LIFE & LEGACY Community Consultant. Passing down Jewish values is a powerful motivator for leaving legacy gifts, Dollin says, especially for millennials, who “think differently about Jewish identity and give differently,” with a focus on impact backed up by data.

Dollin notes that an enormous generational wealth transfer is taking place, totaling $59 trillion — more than three times the value of the United States’ annual gross domestic product. “The potential for the amount that will be given away is huge,” she says.

Dollin explains the impetus for establishing LIFE & LEGACY was Harold Grinspoon’s conclusion that endowments are an underutilized tool for sustaining Jewish life. An endowment is a way to
generate future income through gifts from individuals and families that create a perpetual revenue stream. Endowments, Dollin adds, will be increasingly important for the financial security of Jewish organizations delivering programs and services essential to Jewish life.

LIFE & LEGACY is collaborative by design, Dollin explains, to leverage the power of community to benefit the community as a whole. The program’s structure encourages cohort organizations to trade information, learn from each other, and share knowledge, skills, and experience. A powerful illustration of the power of community is that one request for a legacy gift can deliver legacy gift commitments to multiple organizations.

The proof is in the pudding. During the program’s first 11 months, between June 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017, the 13 organizations in the Puget Sound cohort secured commitments to make after-lifetime gifts valued at nearly $4.5 million. Nationwide, 391 Jewish organizations participating in LIFE & LEGACY have secured 12,553 after-
lifetime gifts with an estimated value of $487.5 million.

After-lifetime gift commitments made today by community members of all means, from many walks of life, will lay a firm foundation for vibrant Jewish life in the future. From generation to generation, l’dor v’dor.

To learn more about the Federation’s LIFE & LEGACY program, visit jewishinseattle.org/life-legacy.

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