Gary Streit is no stranger to giving back. Throughout his life, he has served in countless volunteer roles and on many boards. In his professional life, he is the President of Shuttleworth and Ingersoll, and as a practicing attorney, he specializes in estate and tax planning. These two facets of his life make Gary Streit uniquely versed in the intricacies of charitable giving. He is someone who passionately believes in the importance of giving, and he is committed to enabling his clients to get the most out of their philanthropy.
Gary credits his charitable tendencies to his upbringing; raised on a small farm in northwest Iowa, he saw first-hand the necessity, and significance, of helping others. As he reflects on the importance of farming families working together, he notes, “I guess I kind of grew up seeing people work together and just sharing each other’s time. And then, I know it’s a cliché, but if you’ve been fortunate in your life, you have an obligation to share that good fortune.”
For clients who share that same value, Gary has found the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation to be an important resource. While his reasons for referring them to the Community Foundation vary depending on their specific needs, he’s found many recurring themes that often lead him to connect his clients with Community Foundation staff.
First, he explains, is the flexibility that giving through the Community Foundation provides. A client who has a life event that provides significant resources; can place it in a fund at the Community Foundation to benefit from the immediate tax deduction opportunity and recommend distributions to causes they care about. Second, Gary states that he’s confident in referring his clients to the Community Foundation, because they “do a good job of qualifying the recipients of their grants” and regularly follows up on the impact that a grant makes. And finally, Gary feels that the Community Foundation is unique in its ability to serve as a catalyst, by bringing collaborators together to deepen their impact.
Gary also refers clients to the Community Foundation because he’s confident that they’ll be treated well. He believes this is especially important because, “the inspiration for most people’s giving is really emotional. It has more to do with perpetuating organizations that they believe strongly in than with the tax aspects.” He’s comfortable trusting the Community Foundation to be good stewards of his clients’ philanthropic interests, because he’s seen those outcomes firsthand.
“I had a couple a few years ago who were do-it-yourselfers,” he explains. “They wanted to investigate the Community Foundation themselves. So I gave them the development person’s name. They cold-called the Community Foundation and they were welcomed immediately. They felt like they were listened to, that their concerns were important, that their goals were important, and they came away feeling valued.”
For Gary, confidence that the people he refers will be treated well is paramount, but the Community Foundation is able to offer another unique benefit to his clients. Unlike individual contributions, giving through the Community Foundation allows clients to give to a plethora of organizations, and to do more than they could alone. This encourages clients to think big about their charitable giving.
“What I think is great about the Community Foundation,” he explains, “is that they can inspire people about what their piece of the pie can do; about what their contribution blended with others can do. I think that’s what gets people excited too, that they can be a part of something bigger than themselves.”