Giving back with a donor-advised fund.
Adam Berkowitz believes in the Jewish community. And he has put his philanthropy where his heart is.
Adam Berkowitz* firmly states: “Whatever you give, you will get back three times.” This motto guides his and his family’s charitable giving.
Charitable deeds dominated Mr. Berkowitz’s household when he was growing up in New York. He always put money in tzedakah boxes in his parents’ home. As an adult, he hosted Israel Bond and UJA meetings in his own home. “If charity isn’t part of everyday family life,” he says, “it’s harder to feel compelled to help others.”
Mr. Berkowitz learned about giving from his grandfather, who ran a small synagogue in the basement of an East Bronx apartment building. During the High Holidays, his grandfather rented a union hall above a storefront to accommodate all the Jews in the community who wanted to worship. In those days, Mr. Berkowitz’s grandfather “auctioned off” shul honors.” That is, opportunities to read the Torah from the bimah. To earn an honor, worshipers made pledges to the synagogue: $75 was a record gift back then. At the end of Yom Kippur, the young Adam entertained those who were “paying their bills” With his saxophone.
Following in his family’s philanthropic footsteps, Adam Berkowitz established a donor-advised fund. He transferred appreciated stock to create the fund, which saved him from paying capital gains tax. Mr. Berkowitz supports Jewish and non-Jewish causes by recommending grant distributions to the Jewish Communal Fund (of the UJA-Federation of New York), which manages his donor-advised fund.
Mr. Berkowitz’s three children and their spouses have also established donor-advised funds. “Nothing gives me greater nachas than seeing the names of my children’s funds in the Jewish Communal Fund’s annual report. I never asked them to open their own funds. They did it themselves.”
Just as he predicted, Mr. Berkowitz got back three times what he gave.
A donor-advised fund allows you to create accounts with donated assets, and then recommend grants to qualified public charities of your choice. It also saves you taxes in several ways:
-- The maximum tax deduction allowed by law for each new contribution of cash, securities or mutual fund shares.
-- No capital gains tax on gifts of long-term appreciated property.
-- Fund assets grow tax free.
With a donor-advised fund, you focus on your charitable giving. The federation writes and mails the checks to grant recipients, keeps track of contributions, prepares detailed quarterly reports and invests funds, based on your recommendations. At tax time, the only thing you need to produce is a receipt of the contributions you made to the fund during the previous year.