Last year, I reported that we had spent a lot of 2017 listening to you - the donors who support the mission of the Foundation and the larger community. I hinted at changes to come at The Community Foundation in response to what we learned. I started using different language to describe the community treasure the Foundation’s endowment represents. Tonight I want to continue that conversation.
When you think about the Foundation, the first thing that probably comes to mind are the scholarships that are offered, or the donor advised fund your family created or an organizational fund that your favorite nonprofit has established at the Foundation. You might think about The Family Center, or other visible signs of the many grants that are awarded each year.
Tonight I want to offer you a new image for you to consider- two deep pools of resources that complement and strengthen each other and our community: Donor-Directed funds and our Community’s Endowment.
The Donor-Directed Funds now form the largest part the Foundation’s endowment. What do I mean when I say that?
Donor-Directed Funds are those that you, the donor, have instructed the Foundation to use for a specific purpose. For example, a fund that provides annual support to a church, or any sort of organization in our community is a donor directed fund.
The same with a scholarship. You, the donor, instructed the Foundation to provide a scholarship that fulfilled your vision for your philanthropy - to honor a loved one or to provide access to a post-high school certificate or college degree.
Another example of a Donor-Directed Fund is a donor advised fund. You, the donor, created a fund through which you can support projects that engage your heart and your personal drive to address a community need or opportunity.
These funds are an essential part of the foundation. One-fourth of the Foundation’s endowed funds are scholarship funds, which awarded more than $380,000 this year.
Collectively, all Donor-Directed funds distribute more than $2.7 million per year. Many provide general operation support for organizations - the support that pays the electric bill, repairs the roof, or makes it possible to purchase accounting software or attend a valuable conference.
The second, and equally important, pool of resources lies in our Community's Endowment. This pool was created with the first gift, the Dale Dorney Trust. When you instruct the foundation that your gift may be used for any purpose, you have given to our community’s endowment.
“But, wait a minute!” I can hear some of you thinking…any purpose? That sounds risky, downright imprudent. And who wants to be foolish or risky in their giving?
And I completely understand. As part of the boomer generation, I can be as cynical about institutions as anyone. But here’s the thing: without our Community’s Endowment, there would not be a Family Center. There might not be a performing arts center. McComb and Mt. Blanchard would not be Heart & Soul communities.
These, and hundreds more, transformational community projects have been possible ONLY because of our Community's Endowment - the pool of funds that can be used for any purpose, was there. And thousands of other needs, like support for a treatment for opioid addicted mothers, access to pre-k education, care navigators for people with cancer or diabetes, would simply not have been met.
That’s the good news about our Community’s Endowment.: it’s working. It’s meeting needs that Dale Dorney and Madeleine Schneider and other donors never could have imagined.
The not so good news is that it isn't growing. Over the past 10 years, only $2 million, or 4% of annual giving, has been directed toward our Community’s Endowment.
This is trend is a bright yellow caution flag waving over our community. Without ongoing support from donors, the community’s ability to meet new challenges, like workforce development or affordable housing, will become stagnant.
In our conversations over the past 10 years, we have been trapped by thinking "I can support this OR that." I can put a promise for a Donor-Directed fund OR a Community's Endowment fund in my estate plan.
But that’s simply not accurate. It’s not a forced choice. Your planning can include both. And the Foundation welcomes both.
In the end it all comes back to you. The Community Foundation is your foundation, serving your community, supporting your philanthropy.
As donors, your gifts create its future impact and its role in Hancock County’s future. By considering both the donor directed funds and our Community’s Endowment, your gifts can be meaningful to your family and respond to future community needs.
To give you a clearer picture of what this means, I am proud to introduce one of our newest videos. It describes the impact of a Donor-Directed Fund had, and will continue to have, on a much loved part of our community fabric: 4-H and the Hancock County Fair.
And now, I am delighted to share with you another new video, which highlights the impact a community endowment fund can have.
Your foundation, and your community, needs both pools of support to continue to thrive. I invite you to consider the impact your giving can make – now and forever- by including both of them in your plans.