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Couple’s experiences influence their philanthropic journey

Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend have created a life based on love, generosity and the desire to learn and grow. According to Suzanne, “Our shared value of gratitude plus our desire to make the world a better place created a strong foundation for our relationship.”


During their 35 years together, Suzanne and Sarah became the first legally married gay couple in Texas, raised two adopted daughters and both survived battles with cancer.

Similar to their relationship, the couple’s charitable giving journey has taken many paths. They’ve given to numerous causes over the years, from equality for LGBTQ people and women, to cancer support systems, environmental protection, food insecurity, and their synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel. More recently, they’ve been supporting civil rights and educational organizations as they learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Along the way, they’ve looked to Austin Community Foundation to provide structure and guidance as they created a flexible strategy for their giving. In 2006, Suzanne and Sarah opened a signature fund, a cost-effective alternative for families considering a private charitable foundation.

“We have a diverse and multifaceted giving strategy. We give locally and we give internationally. We love the flexibility ACF offers and the deep knowledge of the community you won’t find at a commercial donor advised fund,” Sarah said.

By working with Senior Philanthropic Officer Amy Allen, the couple created a giving statement to guide their grantmaking and a succession plan that will allow a portion of their estate to go towards their charitable fund, which they designated for their daughters to manage after their passing. It was important to Suzanne and Sarah to instill the value of gratitude and the joy of giving in their daughters, the next generation of philanthropists.

Suzanne and Sarah believe philanthropy is a creative expression of an individual that cares about and believes in the potential for positive change. “Based on a person’s values and vision, you can create a giving strategy that doesn’t need to be perfect, since it will evolve and grow as you do.”

To learn more about starting your own charitable fund, visit austincf.org/openafund.