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All in the Family

Everyone has a story to tell.

The stories of donors at Akron Community Foundation are as unique as the people who tell them. A second-generation business owner who was taught early on to help those less fortunate. A retired nurse whose desire to give started from observing the good works of her mother, who was always willing to lend a hand to friends and neighbors in need. A family honoring a son or daughter lost too soon by giving back to the causes
they championed during life.

Yes, their stories and circumstances may be unique, but a common element weaves through nearly every one of them: the importance of familial ties.

The transfer of wealth

Over the next decade, experts estimate that nearly $10 billion will transfer from one generation to the next in Summit and Medina counties. With baby boomers thinking about their family’s financial future, it’s also an opportune time for them to think about how this shift in wealth can affect their community as a whole, specifically through philanthropy.

Akron Community Foundation’s president and CEO, John T. Petures Jr., talked about this transfer of wealth with Adam Burroughs of Smart Business Magazine for the April Akron/Canton issue.

Building Expansion

As of May 2019, Akron Community Foundation is undergoing a $1.65 million expansion to its headquarters at 345 W. Cedar St., including the creation of a physical home for The Center for Family Philanthropy. Learn more

“If (Akron Community Foundation) were to secure 5 percent of that $10 billion in funds that were established here — not 50 percent, 5 percent — we’re talking about ballpark $537 million worth of assets, added to a community foundation that already has $200-plus million in assets,” Petures said to Burroughs. “Keep doing the math: 5 percent is the payout annually for distributions. Ready for the number? $27 million worth of grantmaking in a single year.”

While these specifics are just hypothetical, the potential for the community is very real. But as Smart Business stated, “Those figures only materialize in nonprofit coffers if the ACF and its wealth-transferring fundholders can make the case to Gen-Xers and millennials — many of whom are leaving to live elsewhere — that they should give part of that wealth back to the community, the community in which that wealth was likely generated.” 

And with many donors attributing their charitable inclinations to parents and grandparents, it’s time for that torch to pass on teaching philanthropy.

The Center for Family Philanthropy

For more than six decades, Akron Community Foundation has helped the community’s most generous individuals, organizations and families give back to the causes they care about. 

That won’t change. What has changed is how the foundation evolved its offerings to best serve the local philanthropic community. “We’ve softened policies in the past decade so that donors have a local place to turn to for their strategic philanthropy, one that understands their needs and the needs of the community,” said Petures. “Fundholders are allowed to assign successor advisors to their fund, we’ve created a simple process for converting private foundations to donor-advised funds, and we allow advisors to continue managing their client’s funds when possible.”

And recently, as the community foundation noticed the increasing importance of family involvement in philanthropy, it expanded its services once again. In summer 2018, the foundation announced the creation of The Center for Family Philanthropy.

“When we began discussing a new strategic plan for the community foundation, the topic of creating a structured family philanthropy center continually emerged,” said Akron Community Foundation board member and fundholder Bill Steere. “It truly just felt like a natural progression of the services the foundation already provides.”

While many larger community foundations like those in Boston, Pittsburgh and Houston have centers of this nature, The Center for Family Philanthropy at Akron Community Foundation is the first for a mid-sized foundation – and the first in the region. Though the center is a natural progression for the foundation, it involves the expansion of staff, services and space.

One of the first steps was hiring a director for the center, Donna M. Coury, J.D., who joined the foundation in May 2018. She has been working with similar centers nationwide to learn best practices and how – when fitting – to bring those offerings to the region.

One program that was an immediate fit for Akron was the creation of a next generation philanthropic training program called the Institute for Emerging Philanthropists.

The institute will provide a structured six-month curriculum for Akron’s next generation of donors, including ways to focus their charitable values and goals, evaluate causes and charities strategically, and work with advisors to determine the best charitable donations for their situation.

“Many people think about planning for their financial future, but the Institute for Emerging Philanthropists will help them prepare for their charitable future, as well,” Coury said. “Learning to give more strategically will allow our participants to give in a manner more closely aligned with their values and enable their charitable giving to have a greater impact on the issues and causes they care about most over the course of their lifetimes. Not only will they learn about the community and philanthropy, I think they’re going to learn a lot about themselves, as well.”

A community resource

The Center for Family Philanthropy is more than just an idea to discuss with donors. Akron Community Foundation recently began a $1.65 million expansion and renovation at its headquarters, which will include the creation of the physical home for The Center for Family Philanthropy.

“We’ve toured centers across the nation to assist us in developing a space that will provide a comfortable environment for our families to hold charitable family discussions, as well as a
place that will provide a history on family giving in our region for future generations,” said Coury.

Included in the center is a library where the community foundation will keep historical documentation of giving – records that future generations will be able to reference and will
serve as a reminder of their family’s charitable values.

“One of the most important parts of what we do as a community foundation is ensuring that charitable legacies live on long after our donors are gone,” said Petures. “The Center for Family Philanthropy, and all it encompasses, is one of the most significant ways we’ll accomplish that for years and years to come.”