Couple Introduced to New Way of Giving Back to Community

Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation | March 9th, 2015


Fritz and Gretchen Mellberg have always believed strongly in giving generously to support those in need.


“Our spiritual values motivate our giving,” said Mrs. Mellberg. “We feel very strongly that it is important to help one another. That’s the foundation of our decisions about giving.”


Now retired, Rev. Mellberg was a United Church of Christ pastor for 40 years. Their modest income allowed the couple to support various charities in the past but when Mrs. Mellberg inherited money, the Mellbergs were moved to do more with it.


“I never thought we would be able to do this, but because I inherited some money we suddenly found ourselves in a completely different bracket,” she said. “I thought, ‘This money is not for me. I didn’t earn this money; it was inherited.’ I wanted to do something with it that would do good in the world.”


The Mellbergs were introduced and referred to the Community Foundation by their attorney and professional advisor D.J. Smith, and in March of 2014 made their first gift to establish an endowed donor-advised fund.


“We really liked the idea that what we gave would keep on giving long after we’ve left the planet,” said Mrs. Mellberg. “It’s something that continues to give. That had a great appeal to us.”


Mr. Smith knew giving through the Foundation would be a good, flexible fit for the Mellbergs in meeting their estate planning goals.


“My wife Abbie and I have a donor-advised fund with
the Community Foundation and have seen first¬hand how well it is managed. So whenever I have clients like the Mellbergs who are charitably inclined, I tell them about our experience and put them in touch with the excellent staff at the Foundation,” said Mr. Smith.


“The Mellbergs have a real passion for philanthropy,” he said. “By establishing a donor-advised fund, they can recommend annual gifts to organizations they support, and these gifts are held by the Foundation in perpetuity to enhance the quality of life in our area.”


The Mellbergs were so impressed with working through the Community Foundation that halfway through the process they decided to double the amount they originally planned to give.


“That was a family decision made in five seconds,” laughed Rev. Mellberg. “This doesn’t feel like it’s a one-time gift. It continues on and that’s a good feeling.”


“It’s important to learn how to give,” added Rev. Mellberg. “In order to develop your full self you need to learn how to give generously. It may be a small amount but when you add it to what others have donated, it becomes significant. It’s just like financing a church. Everybody gives their little bit and it all adds up.”

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