Fueled by a lifetime of volunteerism, fundraising and Jewish community advocacy, Stephanie Abes found it easy to say “yes” when asked to represent Federation Women’s Philanthropy in the LIFE & LEGACY® initiative of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. LIFE & LEGACY, now in its second year in Atlanta, provides training, support and incentives to secure endowments for Atlanta’s Jewish future. “It was the right time in my life to help spark and steer conversations with my peers about leaving a legacy gift to our community,” Stephanie says. “As I’ve progressed in my commitments as a Jewish woman, I can see that all I’ve worked for over the years leads to this. There are so many motivations to support LIFE & LEGACY. When I see the outstanding education my grandchildren enjoyed in our Jewish day schools, and as I watch my grown children step up and serve on the boards of our backbone agencies, I want all these organizations to be strong and sustainable going forward. It’s up to me and my family to ensure that these Jewish institutions continue for future generations.”
LIFE & LEGACY is a joint venture between Atlanta Jewish Foundation and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation with a goal to build robust endowments that will support the financial future of Atlanta’s synagogues, day schools, and core Jewish organizations. Currently, 18 different Atlanta Jewish organizations are in training with fundraising professionals from LIFE & LEGACY, learning how identify potential donors and have values-based conversations with them to secure legacy commitments to the places they care about most. By participating in these trainings, Stephanie has discovered there are many ways to leave a legacy.
Abes underscores that anyone can make a legacy gift, not just the wealthy. “LIFE & LEGACY gifts can be after lifetime gifts, enabling the donor to give more than they ever thought possible during their lifetime. The trainings have opened my eyes to the many options that exist for planning and ultimately committing to a legacy gift. For example, a person can designate a portion of their IRA to organizations they care about so they can continue doing their amazing work into the future.”
Stephanie was moved by a story presented in training of a woman with modest assets. The woman wanted to support her synagogue’s future but didn’t think she had the means. She realized that her small condo was a possible resource, so she checked in with her kids to ask if, upon her death, making that asset a legacy gift was OK with them. Her children let her know that they’d be fine if she did it.
“Stories like that give me the tools to open up conversations with friends about making a legacy gift. I tell them, I’m not your financial planner, but through Atlanta Jewish Foundation you can get the advice you need. They can help you look at your assets and determine what makes sense for you.”
“My experiences co-chairing Federation’s Community Campaign, plus serving on the overseas allocations committee took me to our sister city of Minsk many times. Seeing the magnitude of human need for Jews in Minsk, made me realize how important it is to support Jewish infrastructure there. And of course, it reminds me that we should be proud and grateful for the incredible Jewish institutions we have in Atlanta. They need our support, too. If I can be an influencer to help someone make a gift that ensures the Jewish future here, I’m happy to do it.”