Donor Stories

Please enjoy three donor stories below. Donors who willingly share with us how they achieved their philanthropic goals. Each individual donor receives our full gratitude and deep appreciation. Thank you to our philanthropic partners!

Unrestricted gifts are oft-neglected, but not from these two local artists

Generosity of Two

Unrestricted gifts are oft-neglected, but not from these two local artists

Thomas Bruce and Judith Pratt are two people who intimately know the workings of the nonprofit world both in Ithaca and across the country. The two spent years working in arts organizations, serving on nonprofit boards, and for the past 10 years, they have been loyal donors to the Community Foundation of Tompkins County. Bruce grew up in Ithaca and spent years traveling the country as a freelance stage manager and lighting designer, before becoming the director of Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute in 1992. Tom is currently retired and makes electronic music that he performs and releases on Bandcamp. Pratt has lived in Ithaca since 1983, teaching theater classes at Ithaca College and Wells College, reviewing theater for the Ithaca Journal and writing in the fundraising office at Cornell. She is a novelist and playwright and has produced her own and others’ plays, which she describes as “basically creating a little nonprofit.”

The two said their experiences in the nonprofit world have influenced them as donors. Pratt has held board positions on the Community Arts Partnership and Community Argos Partnership, while Bruce has been a board member of Opera Ithaca, Kitchen Theater and Community Arts Partnership. They have seen both successful and unsuccessful nonprofits, which they said often depends on a well-informed and prepared board.

The Community Foundation of Tompkins County is an example of a successful one. The foundation works with local nonprofits and makes grants to support efforts to help the Tompkins County community. Bruce and Pratt said what drew them to the Community Foundation was its ability to foster collaboration between nonprofits and donor retention, focusing on collaboration between missions and nonprofits in Ithaca. “I read their brochure, and I thought boy, these people are really connecting nonprofits, connecting people who are working in these areas, and these connections are really important,” Pratt said.

The two support the Community Foundation in unrestricted giving, a form of giving where the organization puts the gift to use however the organization sees fit. While a restricted donation has a purpose in mind, such as a performance or program, an unrestricted gift can be for operational costs like every business has. Pratt said restricted gifts are more popular because people like to see their donations have a visible or tangible impact. “It’s harder for people to see what operating money does,” she said. “Unless you experienced working for or running a nonprofit, at which point you know perfectly well what it does, and both of us do. Bruce said unrestricted giving is even more important now during the COVID-19 pandemic, because the needs of nonprofits and those they serve have changed so greatly. As an example, he and Pratt repurposed their donations to the Community Arts Partnership into artist relief donations to help artists who were unable to perform. He said it’s hard to see where specific needs are in the community, which is where the Community Foundation’s knowledge of the county comes in.
“2020 really is the year to say, ‘no, you guys really are gonna have a much better idea of where this is actually needed’,” he said. “There are all sorts of good causes out there that have pictures of kids with big eyes and begging bowls that people are inclined to give money to, but that may not be where the actual need is.”

Learning about community needs

Making Dreams Come True

Learning about community needs

Community Foundation helps individuals, families, businesses, and organizations give back to their communities in active and informed ways  

Since 2003, Sandy and Jay True have had a donor advised fund at Community Foundation, which allows them to respond directly to funding requests submitted by local nonprofits.  One of these requests, received from Loaves & Fishes, was seeking money to buy ceiling fans for the comfort and health of their guests. Loaves & Fishes did not ask for air-conditioning because they thought it was cost-prohibitive.   

Sandy and her husband Jay, owner of True Insurance, however, decided to contact Loaves & Fishes to explore the possibility of going a step further to assure a more comfortable environment for patrons and volunteers “There are a lot of people in Ithaca who are very philanthropic, if they hear the story and hear the need. We thought, ‘What if we look at air-conditioning and fans?’” Sandy said. “And that started the ball rolling.”  Rev. Christina Culver, Executive Director of Loaves & Fishes expresses gratitude to the Trues and additional donors for funding the $30,000 project andmaking our 36-year dream to cool the dining hall and kitchen come true.”     

supporting our very special community

Giving and Gratitude Go Hand-in-Hand

supporting our very special community


Noah, Zach and Hannah Feldshuh and their parents Martha Frommelt and David Feldshuh are deeply grateful to the many Tompkins County teachers, coaches and mentors that have positively influenced their lives.  The Noah, Zach and Hannah Feldshuh Fund is the family’s way to say, “thank you,” by supporting our very special community.  

“Giving and gratitude go hand-in-hand.  Creating a family fund enables us to express our gratitude to the community that supports us.”   Hannah Feldshuh

“So much is dependent on the situation one is born into and other uncontrollable circumstances.  I’m honored and extremely grateful to join my family in creating this fund.  I sincerely hope that this fund enables recipients to enjoy more moments of love and happiness in the way that our family’s togetherness provides me.”  Zach Feldshuh 

“I am honored to share the namesake of this charitable fund with my beloved brother and sister.  I would also like to convey my deepest gratitude to my parents without whom this would not be possible.  Although in most instances philanthropy has the outward appearance of a selfless act, for me it is quite the contrary.  Helping others and empathetic engagement is something that is fundamental to my mental health.  So, it is with the utmost appreciation, pride and excitement that I anticipate the future of this fund and the benefits it will create.”  Noah Feldshuh

For more information on giving opportunities, please contact Nancy Massicci, Chief Development Officer, or 607-272-9333, ext. 205.

quote Maya Angelou

The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth. It is obvious that man is himself a traveler; that the purpose of this world is not "to have and to hold" but "to give and serve." There can be no other meaning