Life & Legacy Visionary Ventures

What would it be like to invite the eight Life & Legacy partner agencies to an evening of presentations in front of high-powered community members acting as judges, with an ask for financial support to generate new Life & Legacy donors? 

Agencies would make a presentation on how they would increase the number of community members signing a letter of intent and/or formalizing their gift intentions through legal channels. Then the judges would decide which presentation they felt would yield the greatest return on investment. 

The Bess and Moe Greenberg Family Hillel Lodge had the successful pitch. But there were other award winners during the Life & Legacy Visionary Ventures.

On April 11, 2024, five Life & Legacy agencies accepted this challenge made such presentations to a distinguished panel.

The Judges:

Sandy Pollack is the Chair of the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation board. She is the founder and principal financial advisor at Trimaran Advisory Group and author of “Don’t Leave a Mess: How to disaster-proof your family legacy.”

Debra Viner is a Foundation board member and is a past president at Temple Israel and was part of their “Door to the Future” fundraising campaign.

Sabina Wasserlauf is a Foundation board member and has been volunteering in the Ottawa Jewish community for over 20 years. She has had leadership roles in synagogues, The Ottawa Jewish Community School, and the Soloway JCC.

The Contestants and their pitches:

The Bess and Moe Greenberg Family Hillel Lodge presented an idea to create video testimonials about the value of legacy giving. They plan to interview residents of Hillel Lodge as well as members of their Life & Legacy program and then use the videos in the building, on their website, and on social media to bring grater awareness of Hillel Lodge and their Life & Legacy program. 

“The click through rate for a video on social media is 300% higher than a graphic,” said Adam Cantor, board chair and president of the Hillel Lodge Long Term Care Foundation.

Kehillat Beth Israel Congregation proposed hosting a “Will-a-palooza” to bring people in to formalize their gifts. 
“Creating a basic will only takes about 30 minutes and many people have not taken the time to do it,” said Howard Cohn, chair of the KBI Life & Legacy Committee. “Adding KBI to your will is one of the easiest ways to formalize your Life & Legacy gift.”

Getting “The Board on Board” was Temple Israel’s proposal. Their presenters felt that encouraging board members to make and formalize their Life & Legacy gifts was the best way to show their community how committed their leadership is to the future of the congregation. With a team presentation, they stated that “their goal is to create a culture of legacy giving, beginning at the top” and this plan will ensure that as new board members are brought in, they see the value of legacy giving. 

What if your family’s giving legacy were seen in a book? What if future generations could know how their family has contributed to the longevity and perpetuity of the community? This was the idea behind the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Book of Life. The book would have a physical presence and be available online. 

“To date the Federation has 140 members of our Legacy society and each one has a unique Jewish journey and story to tell,” said Sharon Appotive, board member at the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation, and head of the Federation’s Life & Legacy team.

The Ottawa Jewish Community School is currently celebrating their 75th anniversary. They are planning a Gala event on Oct. 30, 2024, at the Infinity Centre featuring famed comedian Modi. Jon Mitzmacher, Head of School, wants to highlight the communal benefits of the Life & Legacy program by publicly listing the donors from all organizations and erecting a wedding chuppah where guests can “marry” the community by signing a letter of intent. OJCS wants to make the celebration of their history inseparably linked to their future financial success through this display.

The Results:

The judges were wowed by the presentations and the creativity that went into each one. After a tough deliberation the maximum award was given to Hillel Lodge for their video campaign. Awards were also given to Temple Israel and OJCS to support their ideas and to bring them to life.

Sandy Pollack closed the day by thanking the contestants for their hard work and for bringing to life new ideas about how Life & Legacy donors can “leave a legacy for lifetimes to come.”