Red Hook Chamber meet focuses on charity

Red Hook Chamber of Commerce members focused their attention at their March meeting on an issue that has both short- and long-term implications for northern Dutchess and the entire Hudson Valley .

Christine Kane, vice president for Dutchess County operations at Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, presented the results of a recent study on the inter-generational transfer of wealth underway in the area.

Using a number of economic and demographic indicators, the study found that $11.5 billion will transfer from one generation to the next in Dutchess County over the next 10 years. While much of that wealth is held in assets like real estate, stocks and family businesses, a surprisingly large portion of it is also accumulating in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and a variety of life insurance products, the study showed.

Kane explained that this transfer of wealth represents an unprecedented opportunity to change the way people give to charity. If just 5 percent of these assets were allocated to charitable causes during a person’s lifetime or as part of their will, $575 million would be available to carry out charitable-giving goals in Dutchess County. If you look at the numbers for the Hudson Valley region or the whole of New York State, the impact is even larger.

The Community Foundations is using the results of this study to launch “Give 5 to Change Lives” to encourage local residents to give at least 5 percent of their assets to charity during their lives or through their estate. According to Kane, “Including a bequest in your will is one of the simplest ways to leave a gift to charity, yet only about 40 percent of U.S. adults even have wills, and then only a small percentage of those include a bequest. If we can get people to start with this simple step, we’ll see a tremendous increase in gifts that will change the lives of people who haven’t even been born yet.”

Kane also pointed out that many people are surprised to learn that IRA accounts and life insurance policies can also be used to make charitable gifts. “As we go through life, our need for these plans change,” Kane said. “You can easily add a fund at the Community Foundation or your favorite charity to the list of beneficiaries on your IRA account or life insurance policy. You can also designate what percentage of the assets they will receive.”

For more information on the Community Foundations’ Transfer of Wealth Study or to find out how you can join the “Give 5 to Change Lives” program, contact Christine Kane at 845-452-3077 or

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