Recently, Scott Berryman and his wife, Dr. Paige Berryman, reflected on their family’s involvement with the Omaha Community Foundation—from how they first became donors shortly after marrying, to how they’ve continued to use the Foundation’s giving services as their own family has grown throughout the years.
How did you first come to work with the Omaha Community Foundation?
At the invitation of a friend and colleague from Leadership Omaha, we opened a Charitable Checkbook early in our marriage with the annual 10% end-of-the-year incentive match.
What were some of the key considerations that led you to establish an account at the community foundation?
Well, getting free money in our account [as a result of the year-end incentive match] was an attention grabber, for sure! We liked the idea of being thoughtful and intentional about budgeting for philanthropy and using the resources of OCF to make good giving decisions. The convenience of giving to the fund when it works for our cash flow and budget reasons, but dispersing to the charity when it became appropriate was a great draw. And the idea that our idle dollars were creating revenue for the Foundation made us feel more invested in our community.
Describe your philanthropic journey as a family for us.
We have used our account at the Omaha Community Foundation to make most of our donations, especially locally. We have leaned on the research and institutional knowledge of the Foundation to guide us in making the best decisions that we can. We have shared our interests and volunteering and donations with our children and helped them set aside dollars for their giving.
We set up a separate family account as a tool to teach our children about all of the aspects of stewarding a larger family foundation: collective decision-making, applying our personally held values to a selection process, budgeting, and critical evaluation of a nonprofit organization’s people, programs, and priorities.
What have you found most valuable in working with the Foundation?
The enthusiastic willingness of the professionals at OCF to aid us in achieving our objectives has been terribly important. We could easily choose other institutions to hold and distribute our philanthropic dollars, but the people make the difference.
What led you to give the gift of a charitable account to your children? Can you describe how this was done?
We saw it as a huge opportunity to use a new account as a tool to give a lot of life lessons to our children. Not only would it require all of us to work together to hand out dollars, but it made us sit down and think about how we would create our own fair process of how to make decisions that ensure everyone feels like they have an active voice in our family giving. The staff at the Foundation was more than willing to come to our first family meeting to talk about the scope of philanthropy and how we could set up a structure to guide our work together as a family.
It was done quickly and simply; the Omaha Community Foundation made it amazingly easy. They easily adapted their tried-and-true account structure to accommodate all six of us in having a sense of ownership and responsibility into a family fund.
What advice would you give to families as they are beginning to define their philanthropic vision and passing along shared values to the next generation?
It is pretty hard to do it wrong, so jump right in. The lessons and values that our children take away from the experience are not really related to the details or processes that we use. The important thing is that we are ‘doing’ philanthropy, we are doing it together, and we are doing it with great care and intention for the greatest impact on society through the giving we can do.