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Philanthropy 831 Blog


Philanthropy 831 Blog about the people and organizations invested in the future of Santa Cruz County.

Remembering Our Oldest Donor Advisor
By / May 26, 2015

Funeral services took place today for Bernice Caminata, our oldest donor advisor, who passed away on May 14. She was 101 years old.

Bernice established a donor-advised fund here in 2009, to celebrate her 96th birthday.

In those six years, Bernice made grants from her fund totaling $81,000, to 25 local nonprofits. She advised her last grant in February, for $2000 to Community Bridges, to help repair damages and losses at its family resource centers due to vandalism and accidents.

Aiding and abetting Bernice in her big hearted local giving was her dear friend Grant ‘the Kid’ Erickson, a spry 90 year old. 

Grant visited us often, usually bearing warm, home baked pastries. He’d come by to chat about ideas Bernice had on her mind. He was Bernice’s eyes and ears. He let us know how happy she was to be able to make these gifts from her fund and how she beamed over the stories shared from the nonprofits she supported.


Giving Should Be Easy

Researching charities, writing checks and filing deductions was more work than Bernice wanted at her age. For her, a donor-advised fund was the perfect solution.

Donor-advised funds, however, are becoming a topic of growing debate.

On one side are those who argue these funds have become a scheme for "warehousing philanthropic dollars" for wealthy donors wanting immediate tax deductions without motivation or requirements to give any of it away.

Like leaders at other community foundations, I counter that donor-advised funds are just the opposite. They are an efficient way for people like Bernice (or you) to plan your individual giving over time, at your own pace.

When Bernice set up her donor-advised fund she gained the flexibility to respond quickly and easily with contributions for immediate local needs, like the vandalism that motivated her to give to Community Bridges.

Other donor advisors have similarly used their funds to give following the structural fire at Grey Bears, or to assist in the wake of natural disasters such as the earthquakes in Nepal or hurricanes in the U.S.

It is thoughtful and charitable-minded people like our own Bernice Caminata we think about helping when we talk about donor-advised funds and other ways we have to make your giving easy.


Thank-you Bernice!

Bernice, I'll miss your kindness and good spirit. And, when it came to giving, I know how you felt about donor-advised funds.

As her obituary stated, "her legacy will live on through her generous gift," when she set up her fund.

I trust she'd be smiling, knowing how I remembered her today by sharing a bit of the story with you on how she made her giving local, real and special for herself and those she cared about in our community.


Lance Linares

Lance Linares is CEO of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County. You can subscribe to Lance's blog posts and follow him on Twitter.




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