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Giving Thanks

The day before Thanksgiving Al and Pat Harmann embarked on a family tradition. They gave their three adult children and their spouses a gift.

Al and Pat HarmannThe day before Thanksgiving Al and Pat Harmann embarked on a family tradition. They gave their three adult children and their spouses a gift.

Each couple was told they could grant out $5,000 from The Harmann Family Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

“We are passing on the baton,” Al said. “We suggested they not use this for their churches or other pet charities but to broaden their scope and find out more about what is going on in their communities.”

Jim and Carolyn Harmann reside in Cincinnati; John and Laila Harmann in Chicago; and Edwin and Pam Page in Columbus, Georgia.

While the Harmann children were delighted with the opportunity presented by their parents, none were surprised.

“We’ve been raised to give and we plan to raise our kids the same way,” Pam said. “You only need so much and lots of other people have needs.”

Jim echoed his sister’s sentiment. “We’ve always been in a role of giving our time,” he said. “What was different and unique about this was that while the money isn’t ours, we were able to find ways to give it away.”

Jim and Carolyn felt they needed more information before they made their grants. “Unless you have a personal connection, you may not know about all the charities out there,” Jim said. “You are inclined to only give to the big, well-known ones.”

Enter GCF. Staff members Amy Cheney and Ellen Gilligan talked to the couple about their interests and directed them to several nonprofits that have been assessed by the Foundation. “GCF was the matchmaker between us and other organizations,” Jim said.

The couple’s first year of grantmaking included local gifts to Art Links, Elementz: The Hip Hop Youth Arts Center, Accountability and Credibility Together, Cincinnati Arts and Technology Center and Jobs Plus Employment Network.

Amy and Ellen helped the out-of-town children with their giving by connecting them with their local community foundations and making specific suggestions for organizations benefiting education and the arts.

Al and Pat were pleased with this first family meeting.

“Having all the flexibility was great. We had one meeting and boom, GCF made it happen,” Al said.

“I was surprised by how easy it was to make grants to organizations in cities outside Cincinnati,” Pat said.

When Al and Pat set up their donor advised fund in 2004, they had three objectives in mind. “First, we wanted to provide an additional vehicle for tax-efficient charitable giving for ourselves and our family, particularly our children, but eventually our grandchildren,” Al said.

“Second, we wanted to get our children more involved in charitable giving at an earlier age than we had been. Third, some of the money came from my mother and it was a way to carry on the family name.”

The Harmanns, their children and seven grandchildren are close, spending holidays and yearly vacations together.

“Look forward 30 or 40 years and our seven grandchildren may be in several cities, giving gifts from The Harmann Family Fund,” Al said.

And their parents can tell them this family tradition started around the holiday where one gives thanks.

From the 2014 Annual Report to the Community

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