When Chris Dolloff started Cityside Management Corporation, he committed to giving a percentage of profits to charity. Which was uncomplicated, when the company was small.
As the company grew, Chris and Theresa Dolloff gave away more each year.
But giving away more was not easier, or less complicated.
“I started to feel that it wasn’t fulfilling,” Chris said. “It felt like a time crunch … checks had to be issued at year-end — and I didn’t know how much I had to give back until then. So I was rushing to get checks out the door.”
The Dolloffs came to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation for help in making their giving fulfilling again.
Chris and Theresa created the Dolloff Family Fund, a donor advised fund at the Foundation. Instead of scrambling to make decisions at year-end, they make one contribution to their fund. That way, they can take the time they need to do research and make giving decisions throughout the year.
Foundation staff has acted as a “conduit,” Theresa said, arranging site visits to nonprofits, and calling the family’s attention to organizations doing good work.
“Now we can get closer to where the money is going and how it is spent — and that feels good,” Chris said.
The Dolloffs have long been committed to supporting nonprofits — Theresa has been deeply involved as a board member and volunteer, along with daughter Sarah, at Families in Transition. Chris has served on the board of the United Way of Greater Nashua and is on the board of City Year New Hampshire; and Theresa is a trustee at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Chris recently joined the Foundation’s Manchester regional advisory board.
The fund was also a way for the Dolloffs to involve their daughters, Sarah Dolloff, 20, and Michelle Palazzo, 27, in philanthropy.
“First and foremost, we wanted our daughters to develop compassion for others,” Theresa said. “Having them involved in our donor advised fund gives them the opportunity to learn about organizations that interest them and the opportunity to volunteer and/or contribute financially to help the cause.
“And secondly, society has become very self-centered, so trying to instill the idea of helping other people is an important life lesson that we hope will serve them well now and in the future.”
Sarah volunteered with a project that worked on combatting hunger and taught at-risk kids to grow food. Michelle interned with a nonprofit that helps homeless people transition to employment. The family made donations to both.
This year, Sarah and Michelle — who live on opposite coasts — will make their philanthropy decisions as a team, and will have the time and flexibility to collaborate.
“We enjoy the flexibility of our donor advised fund,” Chris said. “You can donate that money easily and then take the time to make those decisions as you choose.”
This story originally appeared in the Foundation’s 2014 Winter/2015 Spring Purpose Newsletter.