Leaving a Legacy through a Gift to the Endowment

As a child growing up on Long Island, Benn Feltheimer walked with his mother door to door to raise money for the United Jewish Appeal. “I just felt it was what we did as Jews,” Benn said, stating the very essence of the mitzvah of tzedakah. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Benn moved to Chicago where he became involved in the Jewish Federation’s Young Leadership Division and formed a strong friendship with Dan Wander, who introduced him to Jewish Child & Family Services.

Benn made his first gift to JCFS in 2005. His gift was motivated by several things. “Being able to help an organization that directly impacts other people’s lives has been immensely rewarding in my own life. I like giving a piece of myself back to the community. And it’s an opportunity to know and work closely with people I respect, both Board and professionals, who are talented and passionate about what we’re doing for the community.”

Benn is the Managing Partner at Feltheimer Cohn & Associates, Inc. and his wife, Amy, is a Data Visualization Analytics Team Leader at Caterpillar. They decided to make a legacy gift to JCFS in 2013 and chose to leave a percentage of their estate to the JCFS Endowment Foundation after both of them have passed away. “Even though we're not near retirement age, we still wanted to make a meaningful gift," said Benn.

“I realized I could do more. I learned how I could do something that could lead to a greater, more meaningful gift. While serving as Chair of the JCFS Resource Development Committee, the different ways to leave that gift became apparent. We chose to leave a gift to the endowment because the needs of the community will continue to grow for generations to come and we wanted to make a gift that will continue to grow as well. We’re leaving a percentage of our estate rather than a specific amount because you don’t know what life holds in the future. With a percentage, we know that whatever the amount will be, we will be able to afford it, and it will be as meaningful as possible.”

For JCFS supporters who feel they don’t have the means to leave a legacy, Benn has this advice, “Sit down with someone from the JCFS Board or staff and have a discussion. You’ll be surprised by the number of ways you can leave a meaningful gift and it will make you feel very good. If you have children, it’s an important message for future generations to teach them to give, just like I learned at an early age. It’s not all for us alone.”