J. Linzee Coolidge

Using a Donor Advised Fund to Help Dogs.  And Gloucester.

A small painting of J. Linzee Coolidge’s boyhood dog, a Black Lab named Dusky, hangs in the lobby of the new Christopher Cutler Rich Animal Shelter in Gloucester. It’s a modest tribute to the companion who sparked the retired real estate investor’s lifelong interest in animals. And it’s a recognition of Mr. Coolidge’s generosity in making major gifts to support the construction of the building where Cape Ann Animal Aid can now care for as many as 130 homeless dogs and cats.

“We are truly blessed, not just with Linzee’s support, but with the enthusiasm he has for our cause,” says Sunniva Buck, who as executive director is used to seeing Mr. Coolidge puttering around the grounds of the 7,500-square-foot shelter. “We’ll see him out there working on the trails, keeping them clear so the animals and volunteers can walk through and not get caught up in the bramble. He’s somebody who’s involved in his charities on all levels—it’s not just writing a check.”


Mr. Coolidge, a Boston Foundation donor who is a descendant of Thomas Jefferson, supports many worthy causes in and around Gloucester, a seafaring city of almost 30,000 people where he lives with his wife Elizabeth. Since moving from nearby Manchester-by-the-Sea 15 years ago, Mr. Coolidge has become involved with many initiatives in his new hometown.

When the president of Cape Ann Animal Aid’s board took him on a tour of the group’s tiny animal shelter in downtown Gloucester a few years ago, he decided, “This has to change. You can’t have animals in such a primitive, small place.” So he made hefty contributions to the fundraising campaign for the new shelter, including a $300,000 challenge grant from his Dusky Foundation, which was named for his long-ago pet.

Quite often, his philanthropic inspiration comes from the pages of the Gloucester Times. That’s where he learned of the campaign to restore City Hall, a grand brick building and tower built in 1871 in the style of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is home to the Fishermen’s Memorial and murals painted by artists working for the Works Progress Administration.

He is also a contributor to and director emeritus of the Schooner Adventure, a 122-foot oak and pine sail-powered fishing vessel being restored for use as a living monument to the state’s fishing heritage and to the Gloucester fishermen lost at sea. And he supports Maritime Gloucester, a maritime heritage center created from a gritty acre on the city’s waterfront.

“Easy and efficient”

In 2011, Mr. Coolidge established two Donor Advised Funds at the Boston Foundation. He was drawn to the community foundation because of his late brother, T. Jefferson Coolidge, who served on the board from 1981 until 1984. “He set up the Coolidge Family Fund, and I decided it would be nice to set up a fund, too,” he says. “It was easily done and it has been easy ever since.”

He could have continued making all of his grants from the Dusky Foundation, but Mr. Coolidge says he finds it “very easy and efficient” to route many of them through the Boston Foundation, which is dedicated to a city and region he loves. Since establishing his Donor Advised Funds, he has used them to give funds to a wide range of North Shore organizations and projects: from the restoration of a lighthouse off the coast of Rockport to the Cape Ann symphony, to a youth sailing program and more. The Coolidges also support some international charities as well as the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps.

Acknowledging that he’s a very hands-on donor who likes to do his own research, Mr. Coolidge notes that a big strength of the Boston Foundation is the wealth of knowledge it brings to those who may be at the beginning of their philanthropic journey. “If someone has some money and doesn’t know what to give to, then the Boston Foundation would be very helpful in helping to find things,” he explains. “Someone could just say, ‘Please help the children,’ and the Boston Foundation would do the rest.”