Family Philanthropy During the Pandemic

When the world seems chaotic, Sean White finds solace by looking at a photo of his grandmother making matzah balls. This is Sean’s most treasured memory of Miriam Toubman. 

More than 30 years ago, the Toubmans began a tradition of family philanthropy to honor their father and grandfather, William, who passed away at age 52. The family tradition continued when they honored Miriam by creating the Miriam Toubman Family Fund, a Donor Advised Fund at the Foundation, after her passing in 2009. Recently, they renamed the fund to include William, and broadened its charitable goals to also reflect his passions and allow for combined decisions in grant-making (including organizations both William and Miriam might support). 

Every year, Miriam and Bill’s six children and their extended family research local, national and international issues, exchange data-filled emails, talk in person and hold group calls to discuss how they will honor their parents with a charitable donation from the family fund. Those discussions also allow the siblings to share stories and the values of their parents with their children or grandchildren. 

“We’re talking about the pandemic and food insecurity and housing issues in education,” Sean explains. “How can this year’s donation tie together with the holistic well-being of students, so we can help students, both in high schools and colleges, better understand the world, and to learn and think as citizens?”

The family’s grant went to Foodshare in Connecticut, recognizing that, without adequate food for people during a healthcare crisis, not much learning will happen. Bill and Miriam’s legacy is a blessing that is still keeping everyone together even if they all can’t get together in person right now to share those memories — and Miriam’s matzah balls.  

Donor StoriesFamily Philanthropy During the Pandemic