Phil Savage IV has been named IECF’s Professional Advisor Champion for 2023! Phil joins 39 other Professional Advisors who have received this distinction for their expertise in supporting the region through partnerships with the Foundation. To be named a Professional Advisor Champion, an advisor must establish an endowment or a fund in their own name or in the name of their family or loved one(s), or refer a client who then establishes a fund at IECF.

Phil Savage IV, Esq. has a unique understanding of philanthropy, from both inside and out 

He hails from four generations of family members who have led by example in their dedication to lifelong community involvement and local philanthropy. Phil’s great-grandfather was instrumental in founding St. Bernardine Hospital, San Bernardino’s first nonprofit hospital, his grandfather and uncle helped start the San Bernardino Medical Group, and Phil grew up in a home where his parents were — and still are — supporters of IECF and devoted to the betterment of the region.

Phil and his wife Theresa, who is an attorney at the Court of Appeals for the State of California, met in Sacramento where they were externing for the California State Legislature after graduating from college. They came back to Southern California for law school, then established careers and raised a family in Riverside. “My family is incredibly important to me,” Phil says. “The work I do and my commitment to the community is for their benefit, both today and in the future.”

As a Professional Advisor, Phil considers it a blessing to have been mentored by some of the best in the business, including the late Chris Carpenter, who hired Phil right out of law school to do estate planning work for Best Best & Krieger. He then went on to work with his dad, Phil Savage III, for a decade at the law firm of Gresham and Savage. Today, Phil is a director in the San Bernardino office of Fennemore, where his practice focuses on business succession, estate planning and trust administration.

IECF serves as an important link between Phil, his clients, and their goals

“What I enjoy about estate planning is that I get to work one-on-one with clients and their families,” Phil says. “It’s satisfying to help my clients solve problems and find solutions so they can best take care of the people they love.”

Phil’s introduction to IECF came through Chris Carpenter in the 1990s during a meeting with IECF staff to discuss a client’s potential gift. That introduction has led to a long relationship with the Foundation, where Phil has often referred clients to aid them in accomplishing charitable giving, tax and personal goals. We’re very grateful that Phil has also demonstrated his confidence in IECF through his service as a valued board member and past board president. Phil has been a long-time participant in the Professional Advisors Council as well.

Phil sees IECF as an important intermediary between donors and the nonprofits they want to support. Early in his career, he gained firsthand knowledge of how charitable organizations work through his board-level involvement in the Riverside Library Foundation and UCR Botanic Gardens. At the time, IECF (then known as The Community Foundation) offered a program funded by the Irvine Foundation to help small nonprofits establish an endowment. Through training provided by the Foundation, Phil learned how to develop an endowment program that would raise $75K, which the Irvine Foundation then matched with $25K. His understanding of nonprofits now helps him guide his clients who may be unfamiliar with the good work local organizations are doing in our region.

Phil values IECF’s regional approach

“One thing that stands out for me is the regional focus of the Foundation,” Phil tells us. “I believe that the Inland Empire is much stronger if we team together, rather than focusing on work as individual cities. IECF does a very good job of fostering that regional approach.”

He continues, “The IE is a wonderful place. To the extent that we allow ourselves to be splintered and separated, and not to think of ourselves as a cohesive region, we’re at risk of being pulled apart and absorbed by the coastal areas. IECF focuses on our strength as an inland region.” He’s proud to note that while his daughter sees some of her friends moving away and establishing careers in other cities, she wants to build a career locally and give something back to the IE.

History and longevity inspire confidence

When referring clients, Phil shares the history and longevity of the Foundation. “Smaller, individual nonprofits and organizations are sometimes subject to a change in direction or may even close their doors, whereas IECF has over eight decades of history and experience to ensure that donations will be stewarded to reach their intended purposes. It helps my clients have confidence that their monies will go where they want them to go and be managed well. IECF can also help donors find local nonprofits that they may not have been aware of, deepening the impact of their donation to support causes close to their hearts.”

Phil tells the story of a client who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and wanted to establish a fund in honor of her late husband. “She needed a solution to make a gift in a complicated time of her life. We were able to work with the Foundation in a quick and easy process. It went very well, without my client having to second guess or feel like something was compromised.” Phil also notes that other clients may take years to finalize their giving details. “I’m very confident in recommending the Foundation as their lasting partner to ensure each gift will be used as it was intended.”

The IECF team offers our congratulations to Phil on being named 2023 Professional Advisors Champion, with gratitude for his commitment to creating a more equitable, just and vibrant region! For more information about joining our efforts, contact our Charitable Giving Team at

A version of this story originally appeared in our 2022/2023 Annual Report.

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