Grinspoon Foundation Wins Jewish Funders Network's 2020 Shapiro Prize

Jewish Funders Network awarded its 2020 Shapiro Prize for Philanthropic Collaboration to the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) during JFN’s international conference, which is being held virtually.

While best known for its popular PJ Library program of distributing free books to Jewish children, the Springfield, Mass., foundation has impacted Jewish life just as dramatically with Life & Legacy, a groundbreaking fundraising initiative with 63 philanthropic partners in Jewish communities throughout North America.

Scroll down to watch a video of the award presentation and a discussion about Life & Legacy.

Launched in 2012, HGF’s Life & Legacy envisions a future of vibrant, well-funded Jewish organizations and communities, with endowment funding available to provide critical support. Through Life & Legacy, HGF and its partners seek to capture the opportunity available to the Jewish community from the tremendous generational wealth transfer currently occurring.

Over the course of a four-year partnership, Life & Legacy provides training, support, and monetary incentives to motivate Jewish organizations to secure after-lifetime commitments, often referred to as “planned giving” or “legacy giving,” from their most loyal donors in order to build their endowments.

The program’s top goals and priorities are to 1) transform the philanthropic culture of the North American Jewish community so that legacy giving becomes the norm; 2) incorporate legacy giving and strong stewardship practices into Jewish organizational culture; 3) develop camaraderie and respect among Jewish organizations to share the goal of legacy building for the entire community; and 4) provide all donors with the opportunity to be philanthropists by giving them the chance to do something significant for valued organizations that they might never have thought possible.

Key to the program’s success is its use of incentive grants that motivate organizations to have legacy conversations with their most loyal donors and encourages donors to make commitments and legally formalize them in a timely way.

Life & Legacy is “one of the most incredible collaborative programs in modern Jewish times,” says Gideon Bernstein, chair of one of the partners, the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County, in California.

“It has not only been successful for its almost $1 billion of documented future gifts for endowing our communities, nor the vast engagement on a local level in over 60 cities, but it has also created an unexpected byproduct of deep collaboration amongst local community organizations who previously ‘competed’ or didn’t communicate; mutual support between Jewish community foundations and federations across the country; the seeding of new creative scalable initiatives in various communities and most notably becoming a program that helped make Jewish community foundations become much more relevant to their donor bases.”

“With this prize, the funder community recognizes that collaboration is an essential feature of an effective Jewish philanthropic field,” says JFN President and CEO Andrés Spokoiny. “We face complex challenges that nobody can solve on their own; that’s why much of our work at JFN is geared toward encouraging partnerships among funders. Life & Legacy is a role model, an inspirational story of funders building long-term, multi-pronged collaborations to address critical issues in the community.”

The Shapiro Prize, awarded biennially by Jewish Funders Network, recognizes alliances of forward-thinking Jewish funders who collaborate to have an impact in their chosen fields of interest. It was established in honor of a JFN founding board member, Sidney Shapiro, who died in 2007, and who was regarded as one of the leading lights of American Jewish philanthropy. Among his many endeavors, he served as executive director of the Boston-based Levinson Foundation, and was a funder for Lilith magazine and the Coalition for Alternatives in Jewish Education. An award with Shapiro’s name has been given by JFN since 1997. The prize was formerly called the Sidney Shapiro Tzedakah Award.


Jewish Funders Network is the global networking organization for Jewish philanthropists, with members in 13 countries worldwide and offices in New York, Israel, and Los Angeles. JFN members’ annual charitable giving is estimated at over $1 billion. JFN grows the size and impact of Jewish philanthropy by connecting funders, empowering individual excellence, and catalyzing collective action. JFN works for a vibrant, meaningful, inclusive, interconnected, creative, and compassionate world.