In this our third and final chapter of the “What If” series, Chris Murakami Noonan, MCF communications associate, shares with us the story of the Longfellow family and how they honor the member of Norma Longfellow by giving through a donor-advised fund.
The Longfellow Family’s Story
After Norma Longfellow lost her long battle with lung cancer, her family established a donor-advised fund at Minnesota Community Foundation. Their grants are guided by the family’s commitment to answer, “What if Norma were here? What would she do?”
During her illness, Norma formed deep bonds with her hospice caregivers in Douglas County, the west-central Minnesota region where she lived most of her life. In recognition and appreciation of this, the family focuses its giving on hospice programs that benefit county residents.
“We have dispersed money to some really fascinating projects,” Norma’s son Tom Longfellow says. “A good deal of these would not be covered by insurance or Medicare.” For instance, the fund has supported: a music therapist who used Swedish folk songs; training for service dogs to visit hospice patients; and a certified continuing medical education course for hospice workers.
The Longfellow family has also answered “What would Norma do?” with “Well, she would have a party.” And so, volunteers with Hospice of Douglas County have been treated to several gatherings to honor and recognize their hard work.
The families that profiled in this “What If” series all chose to give through donor-advised funds. Donor-advised funds can be established at a community/public foundation with a donor’s initial lump-sum contribution. They are often seen as an alternative to giving directly to a charity or establishing a private foundation. Donor-advised funds allow a donor or designated adviser(s) to be actively involved with the foundation in recommending how the fund’s grants are distributed. For more information, visit the MCF website.
- Chris Murakami Noonan, MCF communications associate
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