In the days of America’s great post war prosperity, the people of Syracuse, N. Y., built air conditioners, traffic signals, televi- sion sets, typewriters, and automobiles. At its mid-20th-cen- tury peak, the city’s population swelled to more than 220,000.
Today, Syracuse’s population is about 145,000. Many of its
manufacturers have shuttered, pulled up stakes, or trimmed
down their work forces. And many of its people have left for
The region needs philanthropy: Half of the children in
Syracuse and a third in surrounding Onondaga County live
in poverty, according to census data. Nationally, the rate is 22
So the Central New York Community Foundation has been
trying something new: a push to get local donors to pledge 5 percent of their estates or inherited wealth to the foundation.
The 5forCN Y appeal is helping rally supporters and open up “a pipeline of future
legacy gifts,” says Peter Dunn, president of the
community fund, which also serves four other,
largely rural counties.
For charities in areas that are losing population, campaigns like 5for CN Y can provide a morale boost as well
as a fundraising opportunity.
“It becomes a motivator,” says Don Macke, co-founder of the
Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, whose research on communities’ philanthropic potential is fueling such campaigns. “It’s one
of the things that even the poorest communities in America can
do to position themselves for a better future. And it’s empowering
in these times when maybe getting that federal grant is hard.
“That’s one reason why people have gravitated to this,” he
adds. “And, over time, it’s become a bit of a movement.”
Billions at Stake
The Community Foundation of Central New York has plenty
of company. The Kansas Association of Community Foundations calls its version of the campaign Keep 5 in Kansas. Flint,
Mich., promotes an effort called 5% for the Future. West Virginia
grant makers have also embraced the strategy.
“That whole notion of hometown-as-heir is very powerful,”
Mr. Macke says.
The appeals make data-driven arguments about the urgent
need to keep wealth local.
For instance, an infographic the Syracuse organization produced estimates that $22 billion of Central New York’s wealth is
likely to be transferred from one generation to the next over the
next decade and that much of it will likely leave the region with
If only 5 percent of that wealth went to charity, the organization says, $1.5 billion would be available to serve local needs.
That money would go a long way at the Syracuse fund, which
The 5% Solution
Continued on Page 32
By HEATHER JOSLYN
PASS IT ON
Peter Dunn says the Central New York Community Foundation in Syracuse
has quickly doubled the number of donors making bequests.