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From daan and punya to family philanthropy

By Suzanne Sen
December 2014
From daan and punya to family philanthropy

Dr. Jagdish Sheth and his wife Madhu, with Alicia Philipp – President of the Community Foundation of Atlanta, organized and presented an informational dinner program on family philanthropy at the Palace Indian Restaurant in Norcross on November 4, 2014. (Photos: Suzanne Sen)

“This country has a knack for getting more out of you,” says Dr. Jagdish Sheth, marketing guru and author. So it is only natural to want to give back, he says, both to the old home country and to the local one, and a wonderful way to do that is to inculcate in one’s family the ideas of philanthropy, of giving “time, talent, and treasure.”

In order to share with others the particular way that his family has done this, Dr. Sheth and his wife Madhu and family joined with The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to present an informational dinner program on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at the Palace Indian Restaurant in Norcross. “We are all passionate about making lives better in our communities and for our future generations,” he said, and “giving back when you’re alive is more rewarding and enjoyable than after you die!”

“This is not just about contributing funds,” explained Dr. Sheth, “but about teaching our children to embrace charitable causes and organizations they love.” In choosing causes to support, each family member brings his or her interests and passions to the table and explains their causes to the others. Students are encouraged to do community service to be well rounded before they apply to college, and they may learn about issues and causes that their elders have not yet considered: did you know, for example, asked Dr. Sheth, that Atlanta is a big destination for human trafficking? We learn from our kids and they learn from us.

Mrs. Madhu Sheth noted that the teaching “Do daan and it’ll give you some punya” is taught from childhood. The message must be carried on from generation to generation, she said. She explained how the Sheths sat, three generations of their family including nephews and nieces, in their workshop and asked “What is most important?” and were rewarded with the response from the children, “Family and compassion.”

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Family philanthropy group: son Raj Sheth, father Dr. Jagdish Sheth, Alicia Philipp – President, the Community Foundation of Atlanta, mother Mrs. Madhu Sheth, daughter Reshma Shah, and daughter-in-law Sangeeta Sheth. 

Dr. Sheth, a member of the Board of the Community Foundation, introduced Alicia Philipps, its president, who has been with the Foundation 35 years and is “a legend in town.” Ms. Philipps described how the Foundation asks What is your passion? and How can it have a purpose? The Foundation, as “custodian of hopes and dreams,” then works with families to set up and manage funds for their projects and identify key nonprofits that could use the income or funds effectively. Other staff members explained details of how to get the family together, develop mission statements, plan for certain amounts each year to be used as a family gift and certain amounts as individual gifts, etc. The Foundation can help families identify and visit organizations and volunteer before giving.

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Although this Foundation works with 23 counties in the metro area, there are other separate community foundations in the state and elsewhere. Furthermore, gifts can be given anywhere in the world, and the Foundation can help to make sure recipients are registered, use the funds well, regulations are met, and all goes smoothly. Fees are less than for private consultants, and timing and taxes are taken into account.

This process helps you not only plan what you want to do with your money, but what you want your legacy to be, how to pass values to your children, and how to integrate them as successor trustees of both funds and values.



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