The Joy of Giving

Richard Jones and Willa Foster Jones are compassionate community benefactors who have a distinct message to share about philanthropy: You don’t have to fit any sort of wealthy stereotype to believe in the spirit of giving.

“We are people of moderate means who have budgeted sensibly, believed in the importance of saving and invested wisely,” Rich says. “But we are also responsible citizens who believe in the spirit of community.  Lincoln has been good to us, it has given a lot to us, and we want to be givers – not just takers.  We believe in investing back into our community.” 

Besides, he adds with a smile, “It appears to me that people who give, people who model altruism, seem to have happier lives.”

His wife, Willa, whole-heartedly agrees: “Yes, we live comfortably. But at some point, you ask yourself, ‘How much is enough?’  You can’t take it with you.  We determined not to isolate ourselves from the needs of our community.” 

So how do you make the best choices when it comes to charitable giving? Rich and Willa went to the Lincoln Community Foundation for guidance and support. They simplified their giving through their donor advised fund which they utilize to make multiple grants to local nonprofits on Give to Lincoln Day. Rich and Willa are also giving to Lincoln forever through planned gifts that make a commitment to our community beyond their lifetimes. They are both recognized as members of LCF’s Legacy Society. 

Members of the Legacy Society are generous donors who have named the Foundation as the beneficiary of a future gift through their wills or estate plans. Future gifts to any fund qualify for Legacy Society membership and demonstrate the highest level of trust in the Lincoln Community Foundation.

  • • Rich: “The Lincoln Community Foundation knows where the needs are in Lincoln … And they believe in what they do.”
  • • Willa: “The Foundation gives us something to aspire to … They are mission driven. They care.”

Both Rich and Willa are talented professional musicians who have found meaningful work throughout their lives. They both teach music (now Zoom classes) through their Foster Jones Studios.  Rich has been a member of at least three regional symphonies, has taught music at Nebraska Wesleyan and now handles integrative technology for Wesleyan.  Willa has a broad background in music, something of a jack of all trades, but has focused on serving as musical director for several local churches. 

As a result of those vocations and avocations, their donations specifically reflect patronage in just those areas: music, educational and religious organizations.

More recently, the couple has also chosen to increase their donations during the past months of the pandemic.   “Everyone needs help right now,” Rich says, specifically citing food pantries and health care organizations, neighborhood centers as well as immigrant and refugee populations.

In fact, donation choices for good causes in Lincoln are varied and many, Willa continues.  “I really appreciate the joy of giving here.  For instance, when we make our choices on Give to Lincoln Day, I am amazed at the diversity in so many different and great charities in this community.” 

“There are so many positives to giving,” Rich said, pointing out that their tax accountant adds another dimension to the value of generosity: Planned giving is a wise choice for your budget.  

“We are at the age when we must take out annual funds from our savings, and making these kinds of contributions just makes sense,” he says.

But bank books aside, Rich stresses: “If you have ample resources, giving back to your community is simply the right thing to do … I would say it sure helps me sleep better at night.”