June 28, 2013

A Prescription for Philanthropy

Dr. Louis Constan and his wife Karen were big-city kids who moved to Saginaw in 1972. And they were immediately struck by what the Saginaw area had to offer.


“Lou is from Chicago and I grew up in Washington, D.C.,” says Karen. “We didn’t have a lot of resources, but there were always amazing things to do and places to go — the Smithsonian museums, the Art Institute of Chicago, places where it was just wonderful to go.


“When we moved to Saginaw, we saw that there were many wonderful things here, too. And they were so much easier to go to; they were right there. And because I’ve always been involved in education, I knew how vitally important these institutions were for many children in the community. If we didn’t have them there, they would never experience them. So we wanted to make sure they didn’t go away.”


For the next 40 years, the Constans tried to make the most of their philanthropic impact. They have been regular financial supporters of the Saginaw Art Museum, Pit & Balcony, Hidden Harvest, Habitat for Humanity, Public Libraries of Saginaw, the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum and many other institutions and organizations.


As they looked toward retirement, they wanted to see that support continue. They established a donor advised fund with SCF.


“As we’re getting older and looking toward retirement,” says Dr. Constan, “we wanted to be sure our philanthropic efforts would continue. We have the money available today, so we thought it best to make a big investment now, when we could, and let the foundation handle the gifts each year.


“That way, we’d still be able make an impact. And we wouldn’t have to worry about the Zoo, the Art Museum, the Children’s Museum and other great institutions getting the funding they needed.”


It’s the least they can do, Dr. Constan says, for what the community has been for them. “We moved here at a time when we could have gone anywhere. We picked Saginaw because we thought it was a lovely community, where doctors and patients are respected.


“And we learned that we’re a bootstraps community. We don’t have a large multi-national corporation headquartered in our town; we can’t look to a sugar daddy to take care of things. We have to depend on a large range of people to step up.


“We have a strong sense that the community has been good to us, and we want to contribute to its success.”


As Dr. Constan winds down his family medicine practice and retires in the next few years, he and Karen will spend more time with their two children and six grandchildren. But their charitable legacy will continue to work hard.


Interested in establishing a donor advised fund?

If you have a range of community interests, you may find that a donor advised fund is an ideal vehicle for fulfilling your charitable wishes. Read more about donor advised funds or contact Brian Jackson at brian@saginawfoundation.org or (989) 755-0545 for more information.