In 1998, Phyllis Westerman and her husband Richard (Dick) established a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF). For individuals, families or businesses interested in making a gift and remaining actively involved in suggesting how it is used, Donor Advised Funds are the perfect option. KZCF has more than 200 DAFs and Donor Relations staff work with donor advisors in a variety of ways based on the advisor’s interest in engagement.

For 20 years, the Westerman Family Fund supported numerous nonprofit organizations with a typical grant between $100 and $250. When Dick passed in 2018 at age 92, Phyllis began exploring options that would make her existing fund more impactful in the community.

"I had a strong desire to support the homeless and housing issues that affect so many people in Kalamazoo County," said Westerman. "I also believed in removing barriers to transportation that prevent people from obtaining and keeping a steady job."

She also wanted to make Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD) from her Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Since this option is not available for DAFs due to government restrictions, her Donor Relations Officer looked for funds that could accept QCDs, such as the Love Where You Live Funds and Field of Interest Funds.

After several conversations with her KZCF Donor Relations Officer and her son, Perry, Phyllis decided to establish two new funds through grants made from the original Donor Advised Fund. The Westerman Family Housing Fund mirrors our Love Where You Live Housing Fund and focuses on housing needs in Kalamazoo County. KZCF’s Love Where You Live family of funds address current community needs and invests in the work of local nonprofit organizations that are collaborating with others to make long-term, community-transforming change.

The Westerman Family Transportation Fund, a Field-of-Interest Fund, was the second fund created from their original DAF. Field-of-Interest Funds enable donors to focus their giving on the community needs they care about most.

"Charitable giving is sometimes complex, but always personal," said Julie Loncharte, donor relations officer at KZCF. She worked directly with Phyllis to establish the Field-of-Interest and Love Where You Live Funds. "It's our job to navigate those complexities with our donors to find options that align with their values and support the community’s greatest needs."

"The Westerman story really brings an exciting part of our work to life," said Joanna Donnelly Dales, vice-president of Donor Relations at KZCF. "There isn't just one way to give or make an impact in our community. Phyllis and Perry really tapped into some creative options to address issues they truly care about through unrestricted giving."

Looking for ways to align your giving with your goals and values? Contact a Donor Relations Officer at 269.381.4416 to start a conversation today or visit

This article was featured in the latest issue of our UPDATE newsletter.
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