Inspiring Generations of Philanthropy

dortch_familyH. Wayne and Alice Marie Dortch had clear priorities. They needed to raise five daughters while saving enough to pay for their college expenses and weddings. Only then could Wayne Dortch retire and do something he'd planned for a long time: start a private foundation that would ultimately involve the whole family in philanthropy.

"In the beginning, he did it," his second-oldest daughter, Monique Bower, said. "After that, he wanted to bring us all in. He designated an amount for each of the five girls, and left us to determine how we wanted to give it."

The Dortches' strategy worked. Although Wayne died in 2008, and Alice in 2011,  charitable giving is a Dortch family tradition that now involves a third generation.

"I think dad would be very happy," Bower said. "We have taken it a step further than what he had intended."

Wayne and Alice met in Paris and had their first date at the Eiffel Tower. But that story-book romance belied the hardships they'd endured during their youth. He had been a Texas farm boy growing up during the Depression; she had been a French child growing up in Nazi-occupied Tunisia. The couple married and settled in Dallas. 

After his daughters were grown, he established the private foundation. Several years later, Wayne Dortch decided to convert the family foundation into a donor-advised fund at The Dallas Foundation.

"When he started the foundation, I don't think he realized what a burden it would be," Bower said. "Giving it to The Dallas Foundation allowed him to do the fun part without the paperwork."   dortch_family_2

It also allowed the family to tap into The Dallas Foundation's donor services. When the daughters organized a summer "cousins camp" for the far-flung grandchildren, they asked Lesley Martinelli, senior director of donor services, to arrange a group service project. One year, they furnished an apartment for a homeless family. Another time, they served breakfast at Dallas nonprofit. 

Wayne and Alice Dortch endowed their family fund through gifts in their estate plans. Now, Bower organizes the philanthropy, notifying her siblings and their children annually about the amount available for grantmaking and asking for grant requests.  That third generation  ranges in age from 13 to 32. 

"For the most part, they're eager to give," Bower said. "One of our kids has special needs and went to the Notre Dame school [in Dallas], so he gives a portion to Notre Dame. One gives to Student Bonfire at Texas A&M. They give to something they are passionate about."

Without realizing it, the Dortches did exactly what family philanthropy experts recommend, Martinelli said. Wayne told his daughters what he was doing and why, but the parents didn't try to control their children's charitable choices. 

Those children are grateful for that approach.

"It was really nice our parents let us know their hopes and dreams for us and let us take over control when they were still around," Bower said. "It was important that we taught the next generation."

If you'd like to learn more about giving as a family, please contact Lesley Martinelli at lmartinelli@dallasfoundation.org or 214.741.9898