Philanthropy honors parents’ values, connects family

| September 4, 2015 | 0 Comments
The 13 children of George and Evelyn Sayer line up in this photo circa 1960. Before his death, George set up a charitable foundation that his family continues to operate with help from the Catholic Community Foundation, ensuring their investments are in line with their Catholic values. Courtesy Ginny Metzger

The 13 children of George and Evelyn Sayer line up in this photo circa 1960. Before his death, George set up a charitable foundation that his family continues to operate with help from the Catholic Community Foundation, ensuring their investments are in line with their Catholic values. Courtesy Ginny Metzger

A life lived for others is what Ginny Metzger learned from her parents, George and Evelyn Sayer, growing up in Excelsior and attending St. John the Baptist parish and school. A chemical engineer who owned several Twin Cities companies, George set an example for his 13 children — Metzger being the twelfth.

“We had to watch out for others,” said Metzger, 55, a parishioner of St. Michael in St. Michael. “That was part of our responsibility as Christians, as Catholics, to help those who couldn’t help themselves. We always realized that we were blessed to have a house and parents and siblings and everything we needed, but there were always people who didn’t.

“They believed they had three responsibilities to their children,” Metzger continued, “teach them to love God, teach them to work and to educate them. If they were to succeed in these three things, they thought their children could be successful. And handing them money would never help them succeed. They felt they fulfilled those responsibilities so that a more lasting legacy of serving the poor and disenfranchised would be the foundation.”

Ginny Metzger

Ginny Metzger

Instilling a giving spirit in children is what experts at St. Paul-based Catholic Community Foundation recommend to help establish a lifetime of generosity.

Kelly Webster, vice president of development and donor engagement at CCF, said pairing giving with volunteering often makes the experience real and tangible and puts faces on the beneficiaries.

For example, “when people support their parish or school, that’s going to feel more real because they’re already experiencing it,” she said. “Throughout the ages, our faith has consistently called us to care for the poor and vulnerable,” Webster continued. “For so many of our donors, the poor are at the top of their minds, ensuring these values carry on to future generations.”

With a mission to financially support the Catholic community, CCF assists donors in a way that’s meaningful to them, Webster explained, offering a variety of ways that serve donors’ objectives for themselves and others. In its 23-year existence, the organization has provided more than $118 million in grants in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, “a result of the generous hearts of Catholics,” Webster said.

Ensuring Catholic values

As for the Sayers, firmly believing that his gifts were God-given, George wanted to continue to share his family’s wealth with the community even after he died. Four years before his death in 1998, he worked with his family to set up a foundation — the Sayer Charitable Foundation, which provides grant money to mostly Catholic organizations and other charities its board deems worthy.

Recently, the family turned to CCF to help manage its foundation.

“At the very minimum, we’re assured that anything my parents worked so hard for wouldn’t be given to anything contrary to the Church,” Metzger said of their partnership with CCF, noting that in order to be considered a grant recipient, the charity must have a pro-life mission. “Our greatest guide is the Catholic Church; she’s got wisdom beyond us.”

Metzger, the wife and mother of nine — ranging in age from 29 to 16 — is the business administrator at St. Raphael in Crystal. She’s serving a second year as board president of her family’s foundation; its members are four of her siblings and a nephew.

Her parents’ values are what Metzger and her siblings want to pass along to the next generation by personally inviting them to become involved — both in the family’s foundation and heritage.

“Maybe it will cause them to stop and think: ‘Why was this so important to my grandparents?’” Metzger said. “Maybe someday when they’re older and get involved with this, that’s their connection to their grandparents, and they can honor their grandparents by continuing to seek out organizations that need their help or answer organizations that ask for help.”


When to start

Webster said the role charitable giving plays in a family’s financial planning looks different for each one.

“I think what we find as we work with our donors is that so many of them feel called by their faith and the blessings in their life,” she said. “Part of being a steward of those gifts is to pay them forward and benefit people in need. They [donors] practice philanthropy through those funds. We just get to witness it.”

Mike Biver, CCF’s senior gift planning officer, said people can start reflecting on when to give as soon as possible, but that it typically happens simultaneously when they have a steady income and begin planning their finances.

“When you’re thinking comprehensively, have the conversation about philanthropy,” Biver said. “Make philanthropy an equal part of the conversation with other goals: housing, college, taxes, retirement. Hopefully, giving back is always a part of those considerations. Even in lean years . . . it can still be part of consideration and decision-making.”

Webster said that while most people come to CCF when they have more assets, they work with people at a lot of different life stages.

“As you think about giving, there’s no minimum amount,” she said. “The experience and joy of giving, to me, is an important part of the pursuit. Give $5 and see what it feels like, and lay that groundwork.”

Metzger agreed that people don’t need to have a lot of money or be a financial expert in order to give. And she encourages Catholics to remember to support the Church after their death. She asked, “When you think about how much . . . has been given to us through the Church during our lifetime, why wouldn’t you want to support her when you can, when you’re gone, so the Church can do what it needs to?”

For more information about Catholic Community Foundation, visit

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Category: Family Finances, Featured