CASE STUDY: BARRY & JULIE
Barry and Julie are a longtime married couple with wealth from the company Barry led, transitioning from “checkbook giving“ to “bigger bets.“
Social Impact Goals
Ensure high-quality education for all children. Address interfaith/intercultural differences that contribute to conflict and displacement.
Talent for Giving
After relying mostly on each other, they sought help from professional grantmakers. A national foundation president became a key early advisor, while a senior program officer ultimately became their family foundation’s first executive director.
Barry and Julie would often learn about potential opportunities by reading news articles and discussing with each other what resonated and how they might use their wealth to help.
Barry’s family is Jewish. As refugees, his family immigrated to the United States and were the beneficiaries of nonprofit resettlement programs. Starting in high school and through college, Barry was the recipient of numerous scholarships that provided access to the kind of high-quality education his family would otherwise not have been able to afford. As a result, both he and Julie share deeply held values regarding the need to support their Jewish community, bridge intercultural and interfaith differences, and provide access to high-quality education for all children.
When Barry stepped away from serving as CEO of the company he built, he and Julie were eager to get more involved in philanthropy. At first they did everything on their own, relying only on a longtime administrator at the family office to keep track of the nonprofit organizations they were interested in and the grants that they made.
However, both Barry and Julie felt unsatisfied by this “checkbook” philanthropy. As someone who had transformed a large, publicly-traded company, Barry, in particular, was eager to use the family’s wealth to make “bigger bets.” He and Julie began seeking advice from Barbara, the longtime president of a national foundation that had been an anchor funder for one of the local initiatives that Barry and Julie had backed. Barbara shared her decades of experience and observations on what had worked — and had not worked — in the various initiatives the foundation had invested in.
Barbara began inviting her colleague Regina to these conversations with Barry and Julie. Regina had been the senior program officer who had served as Barry and Julie’s main liaison to the national foundation for the local initiative that they had jointly funded. Regina brought several capabilities that helped Barry and Julie. From their earlier work together, Regina had an easy rapport with the couple and could ask questions or provide examples of other projects that often helped Barry and Julie clarify their own thinking. Her professional grantmaking experience, as well as her experience as a foundation liaison to many high-net-worth donor “co-investors,” allowed her to play an effective consultative role to Barry and Julie. In fact, they found Regina so helpful in navigating these early considerations, that they eventually approached the foundation president about their interest in hiring Regina to be their family foundation’s first president.