Community Foundation of St. Joseph County

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David and Pam Jarrett

Long-term Commitment to Philanthropy

David and Pam Jarrett

Pam Jarrett learned the importance of giving back as a child growing up on Chicago’s north side.

“My parents, especially my father, were very active with their church,” she says. “They didn’t have a lot of financial resources, so they gave their time.”

When Pam married and moved to South Bend, she brought those values with her. She and her husband David, an executive with Crowe Chizek and Company LLC, believe that good citizens have a responsibility to support their community. Like Pam’s parents, the Jarretts give their time—serving on nonprofit boards and volunteering with organizations such as LOGAN—but they’ve also developed a pool of financial resources for philanthropy. In 1997, they established a donor-advised fund with the Community Foundation and have added to it every year. The fund has grown impressively, boosted by outstanding returns and the Foundation’s practice of waiving administrative fees, a result of the generosity and vision of local philanthropist Judd Leighton.

“When you compound that over 20, 30 years,” David says, appreciatively, “it adds up significantly.”

That’s important to the Jarretts, because their goal is to create a sizeable nest while David is working so that they can continue with their philanthropy in retirement. 

The Foundation’s permanence and stability also mean a lot to them. “We have complete confidence in the organizations we support,” David says, “but stuff happens. Charitable organizations sometimes come and go, and we like knowing that regardless, the Community Foundation will be there—and they’ll still use our funds in the way that we intended.”

The Jarretts also see their fund as a tool for communicating the values they share to their three sons. By involving the boys in decisions about distributions from the fund’s earnings, David and Pam hope to impact their thinking about philanthropy.

“We live in a very disposable world today,” David says. “We don’t fix things—we throw them out. We want to show our kids what it means to make a long-term commitment as a counterbalance to a lot of what they see in the world.”

Pam adds that their fund has shown them how a commitment to a giving plan over a decade or more can create philanthropic resources that have the power to make a significant difference in the community.

“You don’t have to be a big corporation or a multimillionaire to have a fund,” she points out. “You can build it over time.”