Evolve. The definition of this word is “to develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form.”
This seems an apt way to describe our family as we understand philanthropy, what we want to do and how we want to do it. Honestly, it has not been easy. Some days it is like pushing a rope. We’ve disagreed about issues that involve values and beliefs. We’ve learned that we raised children who have strong beliefs and they go to bat for what they believe in. That is not a bad thing and we are proud of them.
This past year was our seventh year as a formalized grant-making family. Under the leadership of our President, our son Tom, we took a different approach. We ramped up our efforts to get to know the agencies we fund. We did site visits and virtual Zoom meetings. We asked questions, were impressed as heck with what we saw and we had our heart strings tugged.
Last year we received several dozen grant requests, all worthwhile, all agencies we respect. We funded fewer but made a larger investment in the ones we funded. We also, as in years past, funded all of the agencies the employees of Briljent put forward for consideration. We implemented a “Dollars for Doers” program. Through this program we are making financial investments in not-for-profits that our employees donate their time to. Few companies do this so we are learning as we go. This is in addition to a donation match program that we put in place a few years ago. In short, if our employees support not-for-profits, so do we.
We continue to retool what we do and how we do it. In 2022 we attended the Forum held by the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP). This organization keeps us sharp. Each conference we’ve attended results in new ideas thoughtful changes. We welcome out-of-the-box discussions. How does a family work together in a unified way, when family members have different values? How can we continue to be transparent and open in what we do and how we do it?
We are a donor advised fund, partnering with the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne (CFGFW). They have done a phenomenal job with the administration of our grants. More importantly, we utilize the efficient CFGFW system for our grant submission process. It works like a charm; we’ve tossed aside our 50-pound grant binders and we complete the entire process electronically, including our Zoom Board meeting. Thank you to CFGFW for walking alongside us.
So what matters to our family? Last year we funded 21 agencies and we think the work that they do matters. We are implementing an international study abroad scholarship program for our grandchildren, great nieces and great nephews. We are working on a family entrepreneur program. We’re establishing donor advised funds for our children, so their philanthropy interests move forward at their pace. Dave and I are proud of our four children, their spouses/significant others and our grandchildren. They are alert to what is happening around them, they are defining their values and they stand by them even in the face of conflict. They are thoughtful, caring, compassionate people who look out for others and they are hard workers.
Here’s a salute to our family and to serving others,
Kathy Carrier, Secretary of The Luminous Fund, alongside the Carrier, Odum, McLean and Baumgartner Families
To whom much is given, much is required.
Our family has invested over $1 million in gifts and grants for charitable initiatives that our family and employees are focused on. Our work with this donor advised fund is one of our family’s approaches to philanthropy. It sets the stage for the wealth transfer to the next generations of our family. What is your family doing? It puzzles us to see other entrepreneurs focus on building their wealth, and then shrug off the complicated question of what do to with it.
Never, never, never, give up.