Teaching the next generation the meaning of philanthropy

Sep 26, 2023 | Article, Newsletter

Teaching the next generation the meaning of philanthropy

Sep 26, 2023

When Ryan Sherr turned 21, her grandmother, Vicki Agron, gave her two options for a birthday gift. Vicki would give her $2,500 in cash or she would set up a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) with JEWISHcolorado for $5,000.

“She said to me, ‘I don’t care what you choose,’ but it was not a hard choice,” Ryan recalls. “Having money as a college student is always good, but with a Donor Advised Fund I realized I could make a difference and have a long-lasting impact.”

From the time she made her choice, Ryan started thinking about the first charitable gift she would make from her DAF. Then, during the second week of August, when the full scope of the disaster on Maui became clear, Ryan immediately knew where her first gift would go.

Ryan Sherr

Ryan Sherr, 21, junior at CU majoring in psychology

“My grandfather passed away about six months ago,” she says. “He loved Lahaina—he even had a tattoo of the famous banyan tree—so helping Lahaina recover and rebuild is an important cause to me.”

For Vicki Agron, this means Ryan’s birthday gift will accomplish exactly what she had in mind when she set up a DAF for each of her grandchildren.

“I want to give my grandchildren the experience of giving,” Agron says. “I want them to be able to practice being a philanthropist, and I am very proud of the choices they make.”

A new generation of giving

Ryan was not the first of Vicki Agron’s grandchildren to receive a DAF for a milestone event. Vicki started the practice with two younger granddaughters, Dylan and Hayden, at the time of their bat mitzvahs. But she imposed a few stipulations.

“I told them that every gift needed to be at least $180 because I did not want them to nickel and dime the fund,” she says. “I explained the meaning of the number 18. And I promised them that every gift they made to a Jewish organization, I would match in their honor.”

Dylan Agron

Dylan Agron, a senior at Kent who will be playing lacrosse for Cornell next year.

Then, Vicki sat back and watched. On a family trip to Israel and Africa with the girls, she watched one granddaughter follow her lead and make a gift to Shalva, a nonprofit in the heart of Jerusalem that supports persons with disabilities. In Africa, her teenage granddaughters played lacrosse with girls who had no shoes or uniforms, so the family made a donation to support young African players.

“That’s just the response I am looking for,” Vicki says. “All my grandchildren are caring, compassionate people who have found giving to be empowering.”

Vicki is a first-generation philanthropist. Her devotion to giving began when she was a young wife and mother who converted to Judaism while living in Denver.

“Everything I learned about what it means to be Jewish, I learned from the Women’s Philanthropy group at what is now JEWISHcolorado,” she says. “I went on to set up a Lion of Judah endowment in appreciation for what this community gave to me and how accepting they were of me.”

For 42 years, Vicki served as a Jewish communal professional, spending 30 years at Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). She was the Senior Vice-President for Financial Resources Development at JFNA when she left to start her own consulting firm. For the past 15 years, much of her time has been spent with Jewish families who want to bring their children into a family foundation and help them discover what she calls the “joy of giving” which, she believes, is a way to “bind families together in a positive way.”

Hayden Agron today, a sophomore at Kent

Hayden Agron today, a sophomore at Kent

Her own family sets an example for her clients. “My grandmother has done a lot with all of us to help establish our core values,” Ryan says. “She loves to see her grandchildren developing in line with the things that are important to her. She has so much love for us and teaching us how to give is a reflection of her love.”

How to set up a DAF

Creating a DAF through JEWISHcolorado allows donors to make a charitable contribution to JEWISHcolorado, receive an immediate tax deduction, and then recommend grants from the fund to qualifying Jewish or non-Jewish organizations. Getting started is easy—just make a deposit of at least $10,000 (or as low as $5,000 if the DAF is set up by a parent or grandparent for a young person) using cash or appreciated assets.

JEWISHcolorado enables donors and community partners with a DAF to select from a variety of asset allocations, flexibility that is highly unusual among communal nonprofits. Some donors and agency partners select an asset allocation portfolio developed by the JEWISHcolorado investment committee. Others select customized allocations from among multiple preset allocation sleeves. To make distributions, DAF holders can access their accounts conveniently online.

“A JEWISHcolorado DAF offers ways to provide a broad base of financial support for the Jewish and broader community,” says JEWISHcolorado President and CEO Renée Rockford. “For families, it provides multi-generational opportunities for education about philanthropy. No matter your investment strategy, a DAF offers strategic philanthropic options with transparency and flexibility.”

Investment options include:
• Strategies to allocate debt capital to typically underserved borrowers (women, veterans, people of color);
• Investments which provide exposure to Israel and Israeli companies;
• Investments that emphasize ESG factors (Environmental, Sustainable, and Governance).

A DAF at JEWISHcolorado is built on an investment platform managed by the JEWISHcolorado Investment Committee and its independent investment advisor partner, Syntrinsic Investment Counsel, an investment firm for foundations, endowments, nonprofits and the people affiliated with them.

For more information about opening a Donor Advised Fund at JEWISHcolorado, email foundation@jewishcolorado.org or contact Willie Recht at wrecht@jewishcolorado.org.