Photo courtesy of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum

You may have heard the exciting news that the estate of Frances Bunzl gave the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta (Federation) and partner organization, Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) a $5.6 million gift to be shared equally. It is the largest legacy gift either organization has ever received and will have tremendous long-term impact on the Atlanta Jewish community.

Federation will direct the endowed funds towards three initiatives. It will endow the top fundraising professional for the organization. The gift will create the Frances and Walter        Bunzl Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowment (PACE), which will ensure a major gift to Federation’s annual Community Campaign in perpetuity. Finally, it will fund the Frances Bunzl NextGen initiative to support Jewish journeys for the next generation of Jewish community leaders. These funds will be administered and managed by the Atlanta Jewish Foundation.

The Bunzl gift will increase the JF&CS Foundation by 50 percent, having a direct impact on the agency’s ability to serve the needs of the Atlanta community. The generosity of Frances Bunzl will live on in perpetuity through its continued support of the nonsectarian agency’s operations; and finally, JF&CS will name its Clinical Service practice Frances Bunzl Clinical Services. This core service provides mental health support for people of all ages and from all walks of life, plus individual and group therapies across a broad spectrum of issues.

This is the transformational power of legacy giving!

As trusted advisors in philanthropic giving, Atlanta Jewish Foundation celebrates the gift, and also appreciates that it did not happen overnight. Years of stewardship and nuanced discussions with the Bunzl family helped shape the parameters of the gift to honor the donor’s vision.

Frances Bunzl was indeed a remarkable woman. Born in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1920, Frances Bertha Hamburger escaped Germany in 1939 shortly after Kristallnacht when Nazis torched synagogues and vandalized Jewish homes, schools, and businesses. Nearly 100 Jews were killed, and about 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Frances eventually made it to Atlanta, where the Jewish community helped her connect with other European Jewish immigrants. She met Walter Bunzl a few years later, and they were married three months later. Frances never forgot the way Atlanta embraced her. Her children never forgot their mother’s commitment to give back.

Walter and Frances Bunzl, along with their two children Suzy Wilner and the late Richard Bunzl, have been influential philanthropists in Atlanta for decades, giving generously to numerous Jewish and community groups including Federation, JF&CS, the High Museum of Art, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Temple Sinai, and Impact Israel (formerly known as Yemin Orde) to name a few.

Their gift to the Jewish community was years in the making. “Federation professionals and communal leaders met with Frances to discuss community priorities and goals to help her create a legacy that reflected her life-long philanthropic passions,” explained Beth Warner.  “Frances was a visionary and a pioneer in communal service. Her personal experience as a lay leader inspired her desire to make a lasting imprint on our community.”

“It is also our hope that this endowment will inspire others to consider legacy gifts of this magnitude and impact,” Beth Warner said.