By Aileen Rosa Kasper, Senior Development Officer at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota

I never thought I could be a philanthropist. After all, I grew up as the daughter of immigrants, learning English by watching Sesame Street, and through osmosis in kindergarten. Money was the focus of our lives, the key to our survival, chaotic, and impossible to understand. But I knew these key rules: money is hard to come by, so don’t waste it; education is the way out of poverty; and be independent, and always have a financial back-up plan. So I chose the path of higher education while working many jobs. Little did I know, college would be the period of my life with greatest instability, including episodes of short-term homelessness.

But that was a long time ago.

Today, I’m fortunate to serve as the Senior Development Officer at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, and I’m able to combine my passions for building equity and reducing disparities with my love of philanthropy. My partner and I have a pre-teen daughter who understands that she has access to privileges that I grew up without. And she knows that some of her friends, who are people of color, also struggle disproportionately with poverty and lack of access to opportunity, safety, and leadership.

My spouse and our daughter are aware that our economic stability comes with responsibility: we have to spend responsibly, save for our future, and contribute to the benefit of society by sharing our time, talents, and treasure. We gather about once a month for Sunday Sundaes to talk about family goals, hopes, dreams, and challenges.

Generosity is a key value of our family and all three of us give to organizations and causes that help create a better world. When I started managing finances for three, I realized we would need to be strategic about how to go about this.

A donor advised fund was the perfect vehicle for our family to start our path of intentional philanthropy.

A donor advised fund is an investment vehicle administered by a public charity, such as the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. In addition to potential tax benefits, there is flexibility with payout. For us, this means that I can budget how much we’re contributing to philanthropy during the year (and yes, my daughter’s weekly allowance also includes 20% towards philanthropy, too) and we can also be intentional about the impact we’re going to have as a family.

With a donor advised fund, it’s easy to contribute securities in-kind and there’s the potential to rebalance a portfolio and avoid capital gains taxes. We also know that the recent tax changes that increase the deductible limit for charitable contributions is leading some people to consider front-loading multiple years of contributions into a donor advised fund that could be dispersed over several years.

We’re proud that our donor advised fund is housed within the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, a community foundation whose vision aligns with ours: to create a world of equal opportunity where women, girls, and all people hold the power to create and lead safe, prosperous lives. An exciting value-add is that endowed donor advised funds are also pooled into our endowment. Each year, $1 million from the Women’s Foundation’s endowment is dedicated to program related investments (PRIs), which serve as a catalyst for organizations engaged in necessary and high-risk, high-reward mission-aligned work.
Donor advised funds have been a great tool for our family, and an opportunity to come together to reinforce our values and remember that there are many ways that we can contribute to making our world a better place – a skill I hope my daughter will embody her whole life and pass along to future generations.

If you’re interested in learning more about opening a donor advised fund here at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, contact me: aileen@wfmn.org | 612-236-1813.

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