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ECCF partners with Buffett family to educate donors

ECCF partners with Buffett family to educate donors
Press Release
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Brookwood School hosts first event in new ECCF donor education series

Manchester, MA – In 2014, charitable giving across the country rose 5.4 percent to a record $358 billion, and now represents 2.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.

At the same time, Gen X’ers and Millennials are poised to receive a record-setting transfer of wealth totaling $30 trillion from their baby boomer parents, who are nearing retirement.

This transfer of wealth, to a generation longing to be personally connected to causes they care about, represents a huge opportunity to the philanthropic community. But there are a few more things they – and the generations that follow them – need to inherit: skills and knowledge.

“Philanthropic studies are just not taught, and yet it’s a fairly significant portion of the GDP,” said Alex Buffett Rozek, president of the Learning by Giving Foundation, a Boston-based nonprofit that provides a platform for students to become thoughtful and effective givers. “If you said, ‘we want to teach the next generation English,’ you wouldn’t just wing it.’”

Recently, Rozek helped kick off ECCF’s newest series of donor education events with an informal chat about cultivating generosity across generations at Brookwood School, a nonprofit, coed day school for students in grades PreK to eight in Manchester. A natural partner for ECCF, Brookwood strives not only to develop a globally conscious student body, but also to elevate a culture of philanthropy among its students and in the community.

The Learning by Giving Foundation, co-founded by Rozek and his grandmother, Doris Buffett – sister of investment guru and philanthropist, Warren Buffett – funds undergraduate courses at colleges and universities across the country that offer high-quality, experiential, for-credit courses in philanthropy. The Foundation has over 40 partner schools, with several local-area colleges and universities participating, including Boston College, Tufts University and UMass Lowell. Students in these classes vet local nonprofit organizations and decide together which one will receive the real-dollar grant they are entrusted to give.

Longtime ECCF supporter, Sydney Atkins Mason, an investment advisor with Goldman Sachs in Boston, moderated the chat – with Doris Buffett in the audience nearby to lend some lively stories about her experience as a passionate and dedicated philanthropist. Nearly 70 ECCF supporters and friends attended the event.

ECCF is expanding its donor education series as part of a larger effort to further engage donors in their giving.

“We really want to ensure that our donors are given the opportunity to make effective philanthropic decisions that will have the greatest impact here in Essex County, and beyond,” said ECCF’s Assistant Vice President for Philanthropy Carol Lavoie Schuster. “Having Alex and Doris kick off our latest series of donor education events really highlighted the importance of passing down philanthropic principles to the next generation. They are a great example of how involving younger people in philanthropy sets the stage for a lifetime of giving – both in time and money.”

Designed to inform donors on the best practices in philanthropy, the donor education series is a way for ECCF to help deliver tactical skills as well as more thought-provoking dialogue to our donors. Two events are currently in the works for next year.

During their chat, Rozek and Mason talked about the founding of Learning by Giving, the importance of giving back to your local community and the need for philanthropic education. They also fielded questions from the audience, many of who wanted to know how to cultivate a philanthropic passion in their own children and grandchildren.

Rozek gave the credit to his grandmother. “She involved me,” he said. “It’s natural that I’d be interested in the things she is doing.”

“This is teachable,” said Mason, likening philanthropy to a muscle that needs careful training and conditioning. “You have to work it out.”


Brookwood School is a warm, child-centered community of exuberant learners with an extraordinary commitment to both the development of the mind and the development of the self. Through a purposeful balance of challenge, encouragement and opportunity for appropriate risk-taking, the School fosters lifelong habits of inquiry, critical thinking, creativity and scholarship, just as it instills a healthy sense of self, a flexible mindset and a deep respect for the dignity of others. Ultimately, Brookwood strives to graduate academically accomplished individuals of conscience, character, compassion and cultural competence. Visit Brookwood online at brookwood.edu.

To learn more about the Learning by Giving Foundation, please visit learningbygivingfoundation.org.

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