I recently gave a speech to the Women's Leadership Board of the Jewish United Fund (JUF). The comments below are edited from my talk, as I wanted to share what motivates my passion for philanthropy, and specifically, why I became a LOJE - a woman who funds a Lion of Judah Endowment for the JUF.
Having always been a champion for Women in Philanthropy, I would like to share some interesting numbers and facts. (Source: Donorsearch.net)
- Women are responsible for 86% of households’ consumer purchasing decisions – we are not a niche market – we are the market.
- Married men give more to charity than single men.
- Women want to establish a relationship with organizations they give to, it means more to them than just a business transaction. Women also prioritize their giving to those organizations where they volunteer or are on a board.
So why did I establish a Lion of Judah Endowment? We all have our stories. Today I would like to share mine.
When I was eight my father passed away of lung cancer. Rabbi Jay Karzen of the Maine Township Jewish Congregation comforted our family, telling us that we would always have a place in the congregation, notwithstanding our circumstances. My Jewish values were cemented at a very young age.
A few years later my mother married Dante Greco. You may know that Greco is not a Jewish name. Within a few years he adopted me, and always supported our family's Judaism. When he went to his first JUF event, I still remember him coming home and saying, "I’m so impressed."
I am too, Dad, I'm still impressed every day.
Giving back was an important part of my upbringing, and the Jewish community was special to me. I helped my mom organize ORT books and raised money for my youth group. My first introduction to JUF was Walk With Israel. My first significant donation to JUF was as a new CPA at the annual Financial Services dinner. Let me correct that. Every donation is significant, and it's often the smaller, earlier ones that lead to a lifetime of giving.
But even beyond giving, I got involved. I became part of JUF Dialogues and the Leads program.
One of my closest friends, Andrea Muchin, encouraged me to think about with the Women’s board. Who can say no to Andrea? So when my youngest went to college, I joined the Women’s Board, became a Lion and then a LOJE, chaired the Spring Event and then LOJE Chair. I couldn’t help myself.
Being a LOJE fulfilled my core values of helping others and support my faith by ensuring a vibrant Jewish community for future generations.
The decision to become a LOJE is a big one. But getting started is easy. For me it was updating one form: my IRA beneficiary. Remember no money is needed today. To become a LOJE you are leaving a legacy.
We call this giving from generation to generation, or L’dor V’dor. This doesn’t always mean older to younger. My mom became a Lion and LOJE in my honor. Thank you, mom. That means a lot to me.
So, as you think about the valuables you will leave to the next generation, don’t forget about leaving your values as well.
In my profession of wealth management, I always say "I can’t promise positive returns”. But I can promise a gift to JUF will have a positive return for our community and future generations.
Shari Greco Reiches