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David R. and Cheryl L. Venarge Fund

Venarge family photo

For David and Cheryl Venarge, there is no place quite like Akron. Both were born and raised here by hard-working families that struggled to make ends meet. 

Today, as successful business owners and volunteers, they are passionate about giving back to the community they love through their donor-advised fund at Akron Community Foundation. The Venarges make grants to the causes they care about as a family, which, according to Cheryl, is a great way to get their six granddaughters involved in philanthropy.

"Our donor-advised fund enables us to share with our children and grandchildren how we feel about Akron," Cheryl said. "Discussing (grants) with them brings us together as a family to help others."

The Venarges are one of several families who have chosen a multi-generational approach to donor-advising: After they pass away, their children and grandchildren may recommend grants from their fund. Still others have chosen to have an unlimited number of succeeding generations advise their fund. In each case, advisors honor the fund's founders by making grants in their name long after they are gone.

Many families like the Venarges find a donor-advised fund to be a great alternative to a private foundation. They can recommend as few or as many grants as they wish while the community foundation handles all of the legal, grant and financial administration. Also, gifts of cash and appreciated assets earn them a bigger tax break than their private foundation counterparts.

Through their relationship with Akron Community Foundation, the Venarges gain access to a wealth of information about local nonprofits and the causes they support. Each year they bring their granddaughters to the community foundation to help make grant recommendations from their fund and to talk to staff members about local children's programs. They hope to make these family meetings an annual event so their children and grandchildren can continue their legacy of giving in Akron. 

"The staff talks with our entire family … and they also listen: to the causes we value; to how we want to carry on our legacy when we're gone; and to how we want to interact with local nonprofits. They even make us aware of programs in line with our family's values," Cheryl explained.

According to David, it's all part of a larger plan: to help the community and to keep the couple's values alive forever, even after they're gone.

"Teaching them to help others (through our donor-advised fund) won't be just about the money," David said. "It will also help develop their character so they can do other good things for people. That's the kind of person I want my granddaughters to be."

To learn more about how you, too, can involve your family in your philanthropy, call 330-376-8522.

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