When half of your family lives in California and the other half lives in Atlanta, it can be difficult to get everyone in the same room for a family meeting! Margaret and Bob Reiser have such a situation and have used their donor-advised fund at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta as one way to bring their blended family together around giving. The family is comprised of two parents—Margaret and Bob, four children, Danielle, Scott, Melissa and Stephen, and three spouses, A.J., Jennifer and Adam.
The family had its first family meeting in 2006. The California contingent joined in via conference call and everyone else met at Margaret and Bob’s home in Atlanta to talk about their collective values and interests. At that first meeting, they accomplished a great deal—they created a Values Statement. They also created a name for their family fund, The Giving Mutt Family Fund. They agreed on four issue areas that they would focus on and learn more about, and agreed to make an annual family gift based on their collective research and agreement. In addition to a family gift, each couple has some discretionary money to fund individual interests.
The first year, the family made a gift, unintentionally paying homage to the fund’s new name, to Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption. This grant supported an emergency medical fund to help animals prepare to be adopted. The family has also focused on the environment in Georgia and made a gift to the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper to purchase a new canoe and kayak trailer, four new kayaks and new waders. Additionally, they have focused on and made gifts supporting early childhood education and childcare programs.
The Giving Mutt Fund has given this recently blended and geographically dispersed family a reason to come together each year and talk about organizations that interest each of them, their involvement in the community and how they can make a positive difference in the community together as a family.