Newton Couple Uses an Inheritance for Good

Boston Foundation donors David and Jill Adler spend their careers helping other people, he as a psychiatrist at Tufts Medical Center and she as a social worker in private practice. So when Jill inherited low-cost-basis equities eight years ago, the couple saw it as an opportunity to extend their help far beyond their patients.


After an estate planning attorney told them about Donor Advised Funds, they opened one at the Boston Foundation in 2006 and began transferring the highly appreciated securities to it. Over the years, they have made scores of grants to organizations with a common mission: to provide help to people who need it, particularly women and children in challenging life circumstances, and the LGBTQ community.

“We were always small donors to a number of causes we’d supported forever,” said Jill, who has a psychotherapy practice in Newton. “What the fund has allowed us to do is find organizations to which we want to make more significant contributions.”

To date, they have given to nonprofits with which they were already familiar, but “we have to do more work to identify organizations,” said Jill. “We need to make more use of our donor liaison at the Boston Foundation because we’d like to keep expanding our giving and we don’t have time to do as thorough research as we’d want to on our own.”

Making an impact

Being able to give on a much larger scale is rewarding for the couple. “My practice is a very fulfilling part of my life,” said Jill, “But I can only help one person at a time. I really wanted to make a larger impact and that was my motivation for finding places that do the good work we like to support but who need the money.”

One of those is the Children’s Room in Arlington, a center for grieving children, teens and families where Jill volunteers as an adult bereavement group facilitator. “I can’t say enough about how much the children benefit from being in a place where they have lots of room to express the experience of their loss, and to be with other children who are going through a loss as well,” she said.

The Adlers have been long standing supporters of the Point Foundation, which provides college scholarships to promising LGBTQ students.  They also support Room to Grow, which enriches the lives of babies born into poverty throughout the first three years of life, and Second Step, which serves adults and children who have been victims of domestic violence. Their other funding interests include arts organizations and those that alleviate hunger and provide affordable housing. They have found that making small challenge grants dramatically helps the nonprofits they support raise additional money from other donors.  With challenge grants, donors disburse the funds to a charity after certain conditions have been met. For example, a donor may challenge a nonprofit to raise a matching amount in order to receive the grant. 

Tax-advantaged gifts 

Because they spend considerable time at a second home in Wellfleet, the Adlers give to local organizations on the Cape, including Community Development Partnership on Cape Cod. Their gifts to the partnership qualify for the Community Investment Tax Credit, which provides a 50 percent credit against Massachusetts tax liability for donors who invest at least $1,000 in a CDC community investment plan. Because the Adlers are giving out of their Donor Advised Fund, any tax rebates come back to the Boston Foundation and will be deposited in the couple’s DAF. 

“Our Donor Advised Fund has worked out well in that it has given us a place to ‘park’ our charitable funds and then pick and donate to our organizations in very personal and deliberate ways,” said Jill. David added: “One of our goals is that our two grown children will continue our tradition and participate in thinking about organizations we can support. It’s a way for the whole family to participate.”