Leading by Example: Chuck Cohen’s Story

Chuck Cohen’s relationship with United Way started with a newspaper. As he was skimming through the local paper in 1972, a United Way ad caught his eye. He was a recent transplant to Indianapolis and interested in finding ways to give back to his new, permanent home. “I was committed philanthropically to Jewish organizations and felt I had a responsibility to the general community to give support,” he shared.


Although that moment took place 46 years ago, Chuck’s still investing in United Way today — and will be long into the future. He recently left an endowed gift to United Way of Central Indiana, solidifying his commitment to community and ensuring United Way will be able to fight for the education, financial stability, health and basic needs of everyone in Central Indiana for generations to come.


For Chuck, the choice to make an endowed gift was simple. Here are a few reasons why he’s chosen to invest in United Way with a planned gift.


It’s All About a Sense of Community

Chuck’s giving has always been driven by a sense of community. His primary community involvement outside of his professional and family life has always focused on Jewish communal life. “The Jewish world is not very large, so all of us need to do as much as we can to maintain the Jewish people,” he said.


When he moved to Indianapolis, he immediately became involved with the Jewish Community Center (JCC), a United Way partner agency that enriches the community by perpetuating Jewish tradition and heritage. Chuck’s passion has always been sustaining the Jewish identity, leading him to involvement with the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis, Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and the Jewish Federations of North America. He’s served in various roles within each organization, spanning from Board Member to President.


When asked why he’s stayed so involved and committed, he explained it’s because of the sense of community these organizations create in his life. His involvement and investment in United Way and many local Jewish organizations gives Chuck an avenue to express his passion and connect with like-minded people who only want the best for the community.


Philanthropy is Genetic

Chuck credits his father for instilling a strong sense of philanthropy in him. “I think it is genetic, my father was very philanthropic and was a fundraiser. I understood the importance of philanthropy from his example,” he stated. Chuck never forgot that example and wove philanthropy into every aspect of his life.

Chuck Cohen and Family

When Chuck married his wife Karen, philanthropy became a large part of their relationship. “I think it’s been part of a growth process that my wife and I have gone through for over 45 years,” Chuck shared. He believes their sense of philanthropy has given them a solid understanding of their community and a desire to give back as much as they can. They’ve spent decades giving back in terms of financial gifts and volunteerism, but something they are most proud of is instilling a sense of philanthropy in their three children and 10 grandchildren. “The kids have always been able to see what their mother and I have been doing, not just financially but actively as well.”


“I Want to Lead by Example”

As an attorney for more than four decades, Chuck helped many of his clients with estate planning. “Being philanthropically minded myself, I encouraged my clients to put something in their estate plans for charity,” he shared. Chuck is serious when he says he wants to lead by example: He and his wife have committed roughly 40% of their estate to charity after their deaths. He hopes that being open about his giving will encourage others to do so as well.


Since the 1990’s, Chuck has been a public advocate for the impact a planned gift can have. He’s served as Chair of the Jewish Federations of North America Planned Giving and Endowment Committee and currently serves as the Chair of United Way’s Planned Giving Committee. “The things that are important to us while we are alive will be important after we are gone,” he said. “Endowing a gift is a way I can expand my support beyond my own life.”


If you’re interested in learning more about how you can extend your impact in Central Indiana for generations to come, visit uwcilegacy.com.