Five generations of Mingeldorffs have called the Savannah-Bluffton area home. The family has always been community-focused, whether through local politics (Lee Mingeldorff, Jr. was mayor of Savannah in the mid-1950s), their businesses (Savannah Shipyard and Mingeldorff’s, Inc.), or their commitment to philanthropy.
Today Bud and Shirley Mingeldorff, the third generation, continue the family’s legacy of giving. They, in turn, have engaged their children. Their hope is that this family tradition will be embraced by their grandchildren as well.
In earlier generations, the family’s philanthropy revolved around the church. Bud’s grandparents funded the building of the Bluffton United Methodist Church on Calhoun Street.
When the time came in recent years to replace the original parsonage, Bud and Shirley paid for the restoration of the historic Graves House, which the church owned. Shirley worked with contractors, vendors and decorators to restore the home to a magnificent historically accurate modernity.
One of the tools the Mingeldorff family uses to execute their giving is their donor advised fund at Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. Bud and Shirley initially talked with an attorney in Atlanta about setting up a family foundation, but were dissuaded by the complexity and paperwork.
However, “When we talked to the Community Foundation, it was so much easier,” Bud said. “The Community Foundation does all the work and even helps us research the causes and organizations we want to support.”
“We used the donor advised fund to help fund the parsonage project,” Shirley said. “Our kids were able to make donations into the fund, as well.”
Bud, Shirley, and their two sons along with their wives and children, make practicing philanthropy a family affair. They talk about important causes when they get together around the dinner table. They’ll diplomatically convince other family members of a project’s or cause’s value.
“It pulls us together as a family to have discussions about whether a cause is important to support,” Shirley said. “And when we all put our money together, we can support bigger things.”
With the recent change in tax codes, establishing a donor advised fund with Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is not only an easy way to promote personal and family philanthropy, but can maximize tax savings. Gifts can be bundled in one year, then distributed over multiple years.
Community Foundation invests the money, allowing the fund to increase and giving the family the ability to offer even greater support to causes they care about.
Each of the three Mingeldorff families donates to the Community Foundation donor advised fund, “even though each branch of the family has its own thing it wants to do,” Bud said. “Even so, our donor advised fund lets us bring it all together through the Community Foundation.”
Christopher Kerrigan is the CEO and president of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. cf-lowcountry.org