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Philanthropy Stories

Philanthropy Stories

Switching from Parsons Foundation to a Donor-Advised Fund

"There was a sense that our board members were getting a bit old to remain in the role of having primary responsibility for the foundation," said Attorney Robert C. Nusbaum on converting the Parsons Foundation to a donor-advised fund.
From 1983 to 2005 the Alison J. and Ella W. Parsons Foundation was a generous community benefactor -- providing $6.4 million in grants to 142 Hampton Roads arts, education and human service nonprofits. Ella started the private foundation the year after her husband Alison Parsons, a Norfolk beverage distributor, died. She ran the foundation with help from her attorney, accountant and other advisors. After Ella's 1986 death, those same advisors and a paid administrator continued to run the charitable foundation and award grants.

But in 2005 the Parsons Foundation board found a better way to continue Alison and Ella's legacy. It converted the $6.9 million private foundation to a donor-advised fund at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. "There was a sense that our board members were getting a bit old to remain in the role of having primary responsibility for the foundation,"says attorney Robert C. Nusbaum, one of two original board members.

Today Nusbaum and other advisors enjoy recommending grants from the Parsons Fund to worthy nonprofits while not worrying about day-to-day foundation administration. "We are perpetuating the foundation," Nusbaum explains. This was "the best way to administer the assets and carry out the purposes ... assisted by our board and our successors."


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