Legacy Giving – Dr. and Mrs. Michael Ratner

Charitable gift annuity benefits both donors and Upstate

“It’s terrific! You can have your cake and eat it, too.” This is how Dr. Michael Ratner and his wife Rissa describe their latest philanthropic endeavor – a charitable gift annuity through the Upstate Foundation.

The highly regarded pediatric surgeon retired after a career of more than 40 years that culminated in service as chief for the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Upstate University Hospital. As a busy mother of two and teacher in the Fayetteville-Manlius School District, Rissa’s life has also been dedicated to children. Not content to serve only through their actions, the Ratners also have a 30-year history of charitable giving to the Upstate Foundation and Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Upon Dr. Ratner’s retirement, less was available for their personal philanthropy. So they decided to focus on legacy giving with the goal to create a long-term gift that would enable nurses at the Children’s Hospital to continue their education. The Ratners’ charitable gift annuity will ultimately provide educational funds for nurses on the pediatric surgery floor, as well as nurses and nurse practitioners in the pediatric surgery outpatient offices.

The charitable gift annuity has proven to be a win-win for the Ratners, as Dr. Ratner enthusiastically noted at the time, “You get nearly the same payout as you would from an insurance annuity, and at the end there’s a big gift to the charity of your choice. And if you itemize like we do, there can be a sizeable tax deduction.”

With a charitable gift annuity, the Ratners are helping to ensure that those who come after them to care for Upstate’s pediatric patients will be able to stay at the forefront of their field and continue to provide the highest quality care to the children of Central New York.


Dr. Ratner’s mother modeled a life of giving and cultivated it in her son. His father helped provide the means. In the mid-1950s, young Michael received about $500 in bar mitzvah gifts that his father then invested in the telephone company. Although the elder Ratner died at a young age, he left a lasting impact. That $500 grew over the years, giving Michael the resources to donate a total of $200,000 to worthy causes.


For more information about ways to create your own personal Legacy, contact your financial advisor or call the Upstate Foundation, 315-464-4416.