I recently and unexpectedly lost a dear friend. Not only was she a wonderful friend, a devoted wife and mother, she was also a “mover & shaker” in the community – in the best possible interpretation of that phrase. Gail Littman was the type of person who could make her visionary ideals become reality.
Gail began her professional career as a graphic artist. She was shy, but soon realized she needed to push herself in order to accomplish more in her life and the lives of others. Gail became president of her local Jewish temple – and championed that role for 11 years! During her tenure, membership grew over twofold, budgets were balanced and the congregation was nationally recognized for its innovative programming. Yet, working with one local institution proved to be too confining for Gail and thus she moved on.
Gail became the Director of Adult Education at the Agency for Jewish Education in San Diego and later served as Vice President of Endowments and Communications at the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego. It was in this latter position that Gail found her true passion: building legacies. Now, the concept of legacy giving was not a new one; universities had built legacies for generations. However, legacy building within the Jewish community was not commonplace. Without the requirement for “tithing”, Jewish organizations tended to suffer from funding issues. This often led to the unfortunate choice of either raising costs to members or decreasing services – just to survive! Gail thought beyond the now: if legacy gifts could be generated for endowments, then the capital would exist to fund Jewish organizations over the long term. With that idea in mind, Gail pioneered the Endowment Leadership Institute (ELI) to train organizations on the value of and solicitation of legacy giving.
Success in San Diego County led to requests from communities across the country. Success in communities across the country caught the attention of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. And so, Gail’s final career achievement was overseeing the Life & Legacy™ program at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation to incentivize communities across the country encouraging organizations to secure legacy gifts and steward donors effectively.
So, how does this career life story impact our role as a wealth advisor? Quite simply, we need to provide advice to our clients on all aspects of their goals. This includes not only building a lifestyle for themselves and providing good futures for their kids, we also must address our clients’ wishes for future generations! Charitable giving planning goes beyond current donations of money or stock shares. Charitable giving through legacy bequests, charitable remainder trusts and other long-term strategies can benefit your clients now and in the future, while providing them with the satisfaction that they are ensuring that the institutions they believe in have the means to carry on their missions.
Helping our clients with a well-rounded financial plan gives them the ability to reach their goals and provides the “glue” to keep our professional relationships strong.