A Family Fund For the Future

The Vogel family: Tucker, Lori, Tessa and RodLori and Rod Vogel both work for nonprofits, and their two children are barely at the cusp of their teenage years. College and tuition expenses are still ahead. Although they don't have great family wealth and are not anticipating large inheritances, the Vogels have done something remarkable: included a bequest in their wills that will create a donor-advised family fund at the Maine Community Foundation.

Lori and Rod Vogel made plans to educate their children about philanthropy. It was a decision launched one evening when Rod came home from his job as director of philanthropy at The Nature Conservancy. "If we die next week, our children will get money and they will not have been taught to be philanthropic," he said to Lori. How, they both wondered, could they begin to educate their son, Tucker, 13, and their daughter, Tessa, 12?

Having worked 17 years at Fleet Bank's nonprofit investment services group where he managed nonprofit endowments and charitable trusts, Rod came to think in terms of creating a philanthropic vehicle for their children through a family fund. He and Lori decided that having such a fund, and talking over where that money might go, would be a great way to begin to educate their children to consider philanthropy in their daily lives and long-term plans.

Rod knew about the Maine Community Foundation through his work at Fleet and believed that the foundation would offer the most cost-effective way for administering the grantmaking process and managing the assets of a fund. "They are a well respected organization with a sound board and experienced staff. If anybody's going to guide our children about philanthropy in our absence, I'd want it to be the Maine Community Foundation," he says.

While the Vogel Family Fund is not yet established (much of it will come from their wills), Rod and Lori know that they have begun to make their wishes known. Should the need arise, their children would already have some guidance. As the children mature, say the couple, they will have increasingly more conversations about their philanthropic interests together as a family and as individuals.

"The need for communities to support nonprofits is great," Rod states. "After all, we were born in a nonprofit, we received our dog from a nonprofit, we were educated in nonprofits, we occasionally go to church in a nonprofit and we enjoy nature and wildlife preserved and protected by nonprofits."

Understanding the tremendous needs of these essential enriching institutions, the Vogels want to bring that need home to their children through ongoing education and their family fund.

Rod is currently on the board of the Maine Island Trail Association and is deeply passionate about conservation. He recently named The Nature Conservancy in Maine in his will. The couple care about animals and education—Lori offers literacy support in the Cumberland school system where they live—and their experience with exposing their children to live theater by attending performances at the Children's Theatre of Maine places that institution, among others, high on their list.

"We want our children to have a little piece of what we care about in their lives," says Lori.

For the Vogels, the future is being planned now.