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Romaine Scharlemann: Generous Donor-Partner and Donor Fund Advisor

Establishing a donor advised fund put philanthropy in reach for Romaine and her husband, allowing them to build their fund over time while leaving a charitable legacy for their sons.

Q: What prompted you to open a Donor Advised Fund at the Women’s Foundation?
A: Most of us want to be part of the solution to the needs we see in our communities, but struggle to figure out how to truly make a difference. We often start by making small financial contributions and perhaps, volunteering. That is where I was 12 years ago when I joined the staff of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. It was then that I learned about Donor Advised Funds and realized I’d been thinking too small. It didn’t take long to realize that by creating a Donor Advised Fund, I could increase the impact of my contributions, include my family in meaningful ways, and do this on a budget that felt comfortable. Just like my husband and I save for retirement and created college funds for our boys, it made perfect sense to start a charitable fund. (It felt like the best kept secret that should be shouted from the rooftops!) The Women’s Foundation made it so easy — not only because we support their mission, but also because we could build our Fund over time, instead of being required to produce a large lump sum. This brilliantly puts philanthropy in reach of the 99 percenters, like us!

Q: How does the work of the Women’s Foundation connect to your personal values?
A: Once my husband and I established the Scharlemann-Baker Fund, the real fun began. We focused our charitable giving on organizations that stirred our passions, knowing that we could start small while creating the opportunity to make larger, more impactful gifts as the Fund grew. We also love that we are leaving a charitable legacy for our two sons as they step into advisor roles one day, funding causes they care about as millennials. Innovative strategies and committed leadership have put the Foundation at the cutting edge of creating opportunities for women and girls to succeed across Minnesota. While I’ve since retired from the Foundation, I love remaining a part of making lasting change and knowing I’m getting the most impact for my charitable gifts by investing there.

Q: Why have you chosen to give to Dunwoody College of Technology through your Donor Advised Fund?
A: It’s especially gratifying to support specific projects through our Fund. When my Mom passed away a few years ago (at age 102!), I created a scholarship in her name, the Helen Scharlemann Memorial Scholarship, for a female student at Dunwoody College of Technology. This is something my Mom would have greatly valued and appreciated.

Q: What do you want to see changed in our community through your charitable giving?
A: The future I envision is being created today through the Foundation’s investments: confident women and girls from every economic and ethnic background, offering their voices in leadership roles. To quote one youth leader from a recent Foundation Listening Session: “ I want to be the change I wish to see in my community.” I see so much hope in the next generation that leads without prejudice, sexism, racism, and homophobia — creating inclusion with ease. All of us will benefit as we build our next generation of leaders comprised of all our voices.

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