The “Power and Joy” of Giving

Meg GreeneThrough her work with the JTG Foundation and interactions with the Maine Philanthropy Center (MPC) and Maine Community Foundation (MaineCF), Martha "Meg" Greene, a trust and estate lawyer, has come to appreciate the power of philanthropy. In conversation with Jennifer Southard, MaineCF's vice president, donor services and gift planning, Greene offers insights on how to work with clients to maximize the potential of their charitable passions.

MaineCF: Would you talk about your work with the JTG Foundation and what you’re learning about philanthropy in Maine?

Greene: I have been privileged to work with Tom Gorman to create and operate his private foundation, the JTG Foundation. In my dual capacity as estate planning attorney and foundation administrator, I have had the good fortune to learn what philanthropy is all about, as well as the pleasure of helping a client accomplish his or her charitable goals.

MaineCF: What has surprised you the most about how grantmaking works?

Greene: To begin with, how much of a difference relatively modest grants can make to charitable organizations trying to get from point A to point B. Another surprise is how much unmet need there is among disadvantaged Maine residents for help with fundamental services such as food, fuel, dental care, and public transportation. I am also struck by the need for greater coordination and collaboration among grant makers and the public sector, so that we can all work together in achieving the same goal.

MaineCF: As an estate-planning attorney, what is now different about your conversation with a client regarding philanthropy?

Greene: Due to my personal experience as a foundation administrator, I better understand the power and the joy of giving.

When I meet with clients with taxable estates, who either have no children or whose children are already well provided for, I suggest that the client identify his or her personal passions and how the client might make a difference in Maine, or elsewhere, by enabling others to develop or pursue the same passions. I spend some time exploring the meaningful and exciting things the client might accomplish by developing his or her own charitable giving program, whether by creating a private foundation, establishing a fund at the Maine Community Foundation, or another strategy of their own making.

MaineCF: The Giving in Maine report published earlier this year highlights charitable bequests as one area in which Maine surpasses national numbers. Do you have any thoughts to share with peers who might be working with individuals thinking about bequests?

Greene: For clients interested in charitable giving, I always suggest they check out the MaineCF website where materials on giving options are readable and useful. For people considering a private foundation, I suggest reviewing the resources on the Maine Philanthropy Center website.

MaineCF: Any other advice for your peers?

Greene: Increase your knowledge base. Keep connecting with those who know more than you do, as well as those with whom you can share your knowledge.

Martha Greene is a partner at Brann & Isaacson in Lewiston. Her practice is devoted to estate planning, charitable giving and estate and trust administration. Greene is a graduate of Bowdoin College and the University of Maine School of Law, and is a member of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). She is the managing director of the JTG Foundation, one of Maine’s larger private family foundations. Greene also serves on the Board of the Maine Philanthropy Center.