Philanthropist hopes community will be inspired to step up, run with fundraising leadership torch

Philanthropist and businessman Michael Staenberg has been a major supporter of Jewish institutions in many communities, including St. Louis, Denver, Omaha and Kansas City. 

By Michael Staenberg

My father, Marty Staenberg, was a role model and inspiration. He taught me to work hard for what I wanted and never to forget that no matter what I earn, part of it should go to tzedakah, to helping others. It is a lesson that has served me well throughout my life and one I continue to believe in.

That said, Vince Lombardi, Bill Cowher, Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson were successful coaches who retired when they felt they were no longer effective, needed a break and/or moved on to something else that piqued their interest. For example, Cowher coached the Pittsburgh Steelers to five Super Bowls. He wanted to leave on a high note, so he decided to find an encore career in another opportunity.

I’ve been blessed to have the wherewithal be able to help many nonprofits throughout the years, including those in the Jewish communities of St. Louis; Denver; Omaha, Neb.; and Kansas City among other places. Given my experience, I am pleased to have helped numerous nonprofit agencies become first in class and fiscally sound.      

I don’t mind continuing to make a difference by being a donor, but I will not be engaging in lead fundraising anymore. I have done enough, in my estimation.  

Personally and through my foundation, I have encouraged others to help the next generation to develop a culture of volunteering and giving back. Others in our communities need to take ownership of that important mindset and legacy, which I was mentored in not only by my father but also by I.E. Millstone and Tom Green.   

I remain committed to our communities and will always be available for advice and counsel. Part of my vision has always been to inspire others. I am now asking those who can do so to step up and not only carry the torch of fundraising and development, but also to run with it — leading by example. If this pandemic has showed us anything, it’s how critical our Jewish community and its infrastructure are to us, providing meaningful connections at a time when so many of us have felt socially and emotionally isolated.

As for me, I am not slowing down. But it’s time I return to my passion, which is the real estate business.


The J advertisement

I’ll always have the opportunity to go back to the nonprofit development world. But this is what I mean when I say, “Coaches do retire.”