Charitable planning: A family matter

September 13, 2017

Bill Geenen grew up in Wisconsin, and his parents involved him in their family’s charitable fund at the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. So he and Lillie Stewart were already familiar with the concept when their financial advisor suggested that they open a donor-advised fund at the Baltimore Community Foundation. 

“We’d always heard about BCF,” Lillie says, “but our financial advisor connected the dots for us. We gave charitable gifts every year but in a haphazard way. He suggested setting up a family fund, partly to be more organized and thoughtful about our giving but also to use some inherited stock to benefit the community.” 

Both Lillie and Bill have a broad range of charitable interests, including the arts, education, and social justice. Lillie, an acupuncturist and former ballerina, has been actively engaged in supporting the Baltimore School for 
the Arts, where their daughter Ava studied before heading to college at the University of Chicago. Their son Liam attends Baltimore City College, and Bill, a graphic artist and painter, has volunteered and donated design work to renovate a library and create a learning resource center at the school. 

“Each of our kids went to their firstchoice high school, which happened to be public,” says Lillie, “and they’ve received a phenomenal education.” 

The children are now involved in both their parents’ and their grandparents’ funds, recently recommending a gift to Thread, which assembles collectives of mentors to nurture and support underperforming high school students. 

“Our BCF fund helps us give intentionally, rather than reactively,” Bill says. “We now have a long-term plan and are excited to follow it through— and to eventually watch the kids carry it forward.”

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