Susan Strunk, right, an attorney at Monaghan, P.C., networks with other young professional advisors during a meeting of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan’s Legal Financial Network. Photo credit: Steve Koss
Young professional advisors like Susan Strunk are key to unlocking the next generation of charitable giving, which will continue to create positive, permanent change and improve the quality of life throughout southeast Michigan.
The Community Foundation is committed to building relationships with these young legal and financial advisors and providing giving options that are relevant to all their clients, regardless of age or wealth. That could mean contributing community capital to our Southeast Michigan Forever fund for an immediate and lasting impact, establishing an endowment to create a legacy over time or pursuing a variety of strategies in between. The Community Foundation is a trusted partner that can help young professional advisors raise awareness about the importance of charitable giving, provide technical assistance with planned gifts, analyze gift transactions, and share our extensive knowledge of southeast Michigan and the people we serve.
During a recent meeting of our Legal Financial Network of advisors, Strunk – an attorney at Monaghan, P.C. – spoke with other young professional advisors about her journey with the Community Foundation and how she encourages her younger clients to make charitable giving a part of their estate plans.
How did you get involved with the Community Foundation?
My dad suffered a heart attack and passed away three weeks into my freshman year at Oakland University. I always valued my education. But, after my dad’s passing, I realized I needed to work even harder and find a meaningful career to support myself. I discovered the Jeptha Wade Schureman Scholarship at the Community Foundation a year later and received the scholarship throughout my time at Oakland University and then at Wayne State University Law School. Mr. Schureman’s gift allowed me to focus my attention on my academics.
How has receiving the scholarship influenced discussions you have with clients about charity?
Conversations with clients about estate planning are inherently personal. We discuss what matters most to them—their family, passions, and commitments. My experience of losing a parent as a young person allows me to connect to clients in an empathetic way. Often, the quality of life that higher education brings to some students is something we discuss when determining where and among whom the client’s charitable gift would have the greatest impact.
What are the benefits to your clients of working with the Community Foundation?
My clients benefit from working with the Community Foundation because the foundation has a deep understanding of the needs of the region and can answer questions about specific charities. Having the foundation at the table alongside myself and my client’s financial planner provides my client with the assurance that their objectives will be accomplished in the most effective way.
How do you view your generation’s interest in charitable giving?
‘Support local.’ I think my generation is interested in supporting local businesses, charities, schools, farmers, shelters — the list goes on. That’s why partnering with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a relevant and productive move for anyone in my generation interested in giving.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about the next generation of philanthropy?
Leaving behind a virtuous legacy of generosity and selflessness is something that inspires generations to come. I remain grateful for and inspired by Mr. Schureman’s legacy of generosity, which was a beacon of light during a difficult season of my life. It might seem unusual for my generation to already be thinking about their legacies.
But, during these last few years, my generation has had the time and the opportunity to be thoughtful and intentional with making changes in their lives and distilling what truly matters to them. I think channeling one’s time, talent and treasure in support of causes that are meaningful on a macro and micro level to the community is a worthy, collective legacy that I hope my generation continues to strive toward accomplishing.
Visit cfsem.org/LFNx to learn more or join the Next Gen Legal Financial Network.
This story first appeared in the Fall 2022 REPORT Newsletter.