Everyone Can Be a Philanthropist
The Extraordinary Legacies of Caring Clevelanders
On January 3, 1914, the day after the board of the Cleveland Trust bank adopted a resolution establishing the Cleveland Foundation, bank president Frederick H. Goff and his wife, Frances, signed a trust agreement that designated the new community foundation as the ultimate beneficiary of their estate. The Goffs made provisions for their three children and their as-yet-unborn grandchildren to receive income from the estate as long as any of these descendants was alive. Following the death of the last surviving heir, the estate’s income was to be placed at the disposal of the Cleveland Foundation.
With a flourish of their pens, Fred and Frances Goff became the first living donors to the world’s first community foundation. This new institution had been conceived by Goff to enable caring individuals to leave a portion or all of their accumulated wealth to an enduring trust, secure in the knowledge that their bequests would be wisely administered for the maximum benefit of the community in which they had lived, worked and prospered.
Emulating the pacesetting example set by the Goffs, generations of Greater Clevelanders have partnered with the Cleveland Foundation to realize their own philanthropic goals. Not surprisingly, the foundation was initially endowed by the wealthiest members of the community; they or their attorneys or trust officers were likely to have been personally influenced by the Goffs, who were leading members of the city’s meritocracy. Katharine Holden Thayer, whose father, Albert Fairchild Holden, lived near the Goffs in Bratenahl, is a good example. Upon her death in 1985 at the age of 86, she left $14.1 million to the foundation (see video).
As knowledge of the foundation’s mission spread more broadly, donations of all sizes, from people from all walks of life, began to pour in. As of the end of 2013, the foundation had received gifts whose combined value totaled $975,650,021.
People have given to the foundation for countless reasons: to memorialize a loved one, to ensure the future success of organizations in which they have been involved, to leave a philanthropic legacy. These are just a few of the many charitable wishes that the Cleveland Foundation has helped to fulfill. Over the years the foundation has offered donors flexibility in their options for giving—most notably, assisting those who wish to be active in philanthropy during their lifetimes, such as Albert M. Higley Jr. and his family (see video).
Illustrating that there are just as many avenues to give as reasons for giving, here are some examples of ordinary citizens who have, through a philanthropic partnership with the Cleveland Foundation, helped to enhance our community in remarkable ways that sometimes even they might not have envisioned.