Cass Donor Advised Fund

Working Together to Better Our Community

After their children grew up and left the nest, Joe and Amy Cass relocated to Rochester. They wanted to get involved in the community and further the Minnesota tradition of social justice.

“Normally, you can engage in a community through schools and kids, but ours are grown, so we looked for an organization that was involved in making a difference in the greater Rochester area,” says Amy. That’s why they turned to the Rochester Area Foundation.

It “provided us a way to sort of level the charitable playing field,” says Joe. “Many people donate through their churches and other religious affiliations, but not all charities are supported in this way. The donor advised fund enables us to give to those programs we see as benefiting the Rochester community. In addition, we’re able to give to those charities that we see benefiting the international community.”

The Cass family appreciates the efficiency of the fund, knowing they can make a donation whenever it fits into their financial picture. “From there, we can make donations to charities we wish to support, when they have a need. It enables us to budget our gifts, and it’s very easy,” says Amy.

When Joe and Amy want to make a donation, they call or email the request to Ann Fahy-Gust, donor services and grants manager for the Rochester Area Foundation. Fahy-Gust facilitates donor philanthropy and ensures that organizations are eligible to receive charitable gifts. “We can’t make donations to individuals or for-profit organizations,” she explains. ”When a donor requests a gift to an organization, I check it out through the Charities Review Council and the IRS charitable organizations information website.” She also tracks which organizations are requesting grants from the Foundation and invites donors to participate as a partner with the Foundation in funding these already vetted requests.  

This is something that appeals to the Casses. “As we are relatively new to town, we like to hear about areas of current or future need,” says Amy. “We have participated several times as a partner with the Foundation in these grants. It helps us be involved in the community.”

One community project Joe and Amy are watching closely is the Destination Medical Community, an innovative partnership between the city of Rochester and Mayo Clinic with the goal of making the city one of the top medical destinations in the world. “We’re perched on the edge of big things with the Destination Medical Community concept. It would be great to find projects to dovetail with that,” says Amy.

Giving back and making the community a better place is important to Joe and Amy. “We have an opportunity to support this community where we live through philanthropic gifts,” she adds. “It’s the easy way really. I’m so impressed by those who give of their time and talent to make Rochester the unique, growing community it is.” And that makes the Casses feel right at home.