Values Create the Career of a Lifetime

Dick McFarland’s parents grew up in two small towns in Iowa. They moved to Chicago where his father was in the investment business. During the Depression, his business went broke and the family came to Minneapolis.

Dick and Joyce McFarland

Dick and Joyce McFarland

“My father taught me much about respect and responsibility; if you are going to do something, you are going to do it well,” Dick said. “Mother was all about unconditional love — for me, my brother, and our friends. No matter what we did, it was unconditional love.”

Today, Dick is retired from a long and successful career in the investment business. But he and his wife, Joyce, continue to venture forward with their other time-honored career as volunteers and philanthropists in the community.

While Dick inherited a wealth of core values from his parents, it was a former boss, Wheelock Whitney, who first introduced him to the value of giving back.

“I believe most volunteers, when they give of themselves, need to get something in return,” says Joyce. “And I don’t mean material things. They have to know that they are doing something meaningful.”

“He called me into his office one day and said that I was going to be made a Senior Vice President. No more money, but a nice title,” Dick recalled. “But, he said, with the title comes responsibility. And I expect you to be involved with this community. It’s part of the DNA of who we are.”

Wheelock gave Dick a month to come up with two organizations where he’d like to get involved. With guidance from a friend, Dick — a novice to the nonprofit sector — chose the United Way and Junior Achievement. “And that’s what started me on my career of being involved in this community,” Dick said.

For Joyce, understanding the importance of giving began at an earlier age. “There was so much around values and giving to others that it must have been in my porridge when I was a kid,” she joked. She grew up right after the Depression during the war years with her folks. “They never lectured about it, but they did give. And I know that my whole disposition is focused there.”

In addition to the impression her parents made on her values, she also credits an early-on experience she had with the Junior League — starting a nursery school through    St. Stephen’s Church on the near-Northside. Through that formative experience, she learned a value that continues to drive her giving and volunteerism to this day: “I believe most volunteers, when they give of themselves, need to get something in return. And I don’t mean material things. They have to know that they are doing something meaningful.”

Working with their Philanthropic Advisor and staff at the Foundation, the McFarlands have been able to take steps to ensure their values around giving back continue. With four adult children living in the Twin Cities and nine grandchildren, it is a priority for Dick and Joyce to bring their family into the circle of their philanthropy.

Several years back, they had their first family meeting. They requested that all four children meet with their attorney and Philanthropic Advisor at the Foundation. Dick and Joyce had designated a portion of their estate to the Foundation to ensure sustained support of the community beyond their lifetime. And they wanted their children to understand why.

“We tried to come together like that at least every 18 months,” Dick said. “Not to talk about figures and specifics, but to talk about the cause and how deeply we care about it.”

“We tried to come together like that at least every 18 months,” Dick said. “Not to talk about figures and specifics, but to talk about the cause and how deeply we care about it.”

One brainstorm that emerged from their Philanthropic Advisor was “share checks” for their grandchildren. “We would write a check for Christmas that was appropriate for the age of the grandchild — whether it be $5 for the younger kids or $20 for the older kids —and they could decide where that check went,” Joyce explained. “It was up to them, but they had to report back to us and tell us what their particular project was.” It was a fun way to involve their grandchildren and pass on the tradition of giving back to yet another generation.

The Foundation has also proven to be a wonderful resource for Joyce and Dick to continue learning about issues in the community. “They invite us to come to presentations from nonprofits that they think make sense for us,” Dick explained. He says they have ended up funding at least half of the nonprofits they’ve seen present because the Foundation had already done their homework. It’s just one of the “value adds” Dick and Joyce appreciate about partnering with the Foundation.

“It’s part of my values system,” Joyce said. “I care deeply about how we disburse what we’ve been so blessed to have.”

Visit the Family Philanthropy Resource Center to learn more about how the Minneapolis Foundation helps families bring focus, passion, and strategy to their giving.