Every generation faces a different world, but a lot of challenges are common across time. I’m a fan of community foundations like the New York Community Trust because they allow donors to try to address timeless challenges. It’s more fun to solve problems for a century or longer than a decade or so. This struck me when reading the NY Community Trust’s Grant Newsletter last year:

Ninety years ago, when the first funds were established in The New York Community Trust, “Rhapsody in Blue” premiered in the City with George Gershwin at the piano. The Thanksgiving Day Parade marched to Macy’s for the first time. John Francis Hylan was mayor, Calvin Coolidge sat in the White House, and newspapers reported the discovery of King Tut’s tomb.

Much has changed since 1924, but—remarkably—most of The Trust’s funds created that year continue to make New York a better place.

One of those funds honors financier and philanthropist Jacob Schiff, who left Germany in 1873 to seek his fortune in New York. He found it as a Wall Street investment banker with numerous railroad stock holdings before he died in 1920.

His daughter, Frieda Schiff Warburg, created a permanent fund in his honor to provide services for the poor, a cause he held dear. Originally $500,000, it’s now worth more than $2.6 million. In just the past two decades, we’ve used the Jacob H. Schiff Memorial Fund to give more than $2 million to nonprofits finding solutions for New Yorkers in need…

These sorts of funds can be started with $5,000 or less and the impact of these funds can be perpetual. Have a family, cultivate a family mission or areas of interest, and get to work. Don’t privatize it. Share it.

Start now, and the impact will grow in time.