By Jennifer McDaniel For the Lincoln Sentinel
An annual match program aimed at helping the Post Rock Community Foundation grow its funds exponentially kicked off last week during the Match Month event in Lincoln.
More than 30 people filled the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Parish Hall for a catered dinner and a presentation by Betsy Wearing, coordinator of programs, communications and new initiatives for the Dane G. Hansen Foundation. Wearing served as the long-time director of the Greater Salina Community Foundation before joining the Hansen Foundation.
The event created awareness for the foundation’s biggest fund-raising effort of the year – for every dollar given to the Post Rock Community Foundation, $3 is matched from the Dane G. Hansen and Kansas Health foundations.
This year’s goal is to raise $50,000, which translates into $150,000. But donors only have until Dec 31 to make their contributions count.
Events like the Nov. 28 kickoff are important, Wearing said, because they illustrate how contributions fund current projects and programs and also provide resources to sustain community needs years from now.
“For a lot of community foundations, it’s difficult to get the message out about how the community foundations can be a powerful tool,” she said.
In October, the Post Rock Community Foundation awarded nearly $100,000 in grant funding to 11 groups throughout Lincoln County. In all, the board awarded $97,389 in grants, including $3,294 from the Community Action Fund and $94,095 from Dane G. Hansen Foundation.
Along with Hansen contributions, the state health foundation gives funding which has already been used to help schools and nonprofits as well as emergency medical services, hospital and healthy-living programs.
As part of the goal, a portion of the KHF match dollars are placed in the Healthy Living endowment fund. Proceeds from the fund are then available for projects aimed at community health and quality of life.
What sets community foundations apart
Community foundations are unique, Wearing said, because individuals can direct their contribution, either through a small donation or a larger estate plan, to a community rather than a specific charity.
As Wearing and her husband look ahead, they hope to leave 95 percent of their estate to their three sons. Like many adult children, Wearing’s sons no longer live in their hometown.
But because Salina is a special place to Betsy and her husband, they plan to leave the remaining 5 percent to their community.
“It’s the community where we met, married and raised our children,” she said. “It’s a pretty simple way to give back to a community that’s given us so much. That’s where community foundations are uniquely positioned to capture that wealth.”
Spreading the wealth
In 2007, researchers at Wichita State University conducted a study estimating future intergenerational wealth transfer for each county in Kansas. The Kansas Association of Community Foundations collaborated with the KHF to examine the transfer of wealth data for enhancing statewide philanthropic giving. The study was later updated in 2012.
Wearing referred to the study during her presentation, illustrating how important endowed funds are to building community foundations.
Following World War II, she explained, the baby-boomer generation prospered and invested the wealth they amassed. And, over the next 50 years, those assets will change hands – moving from one generation to the next.
In Kansas, more than $600 billion will be transferred by the year 2060. According to the study, if Lincoln County could capture 5 percent of those funds, more than $112 million could be raised by 2029. And, if 5 percent of that was captured through estate planning, it would translate into a 5 percent payout of $281,382 annually for grant funding – if the money was invested in a permanently endowed fund.
Based on the study, if the money continued to be invested, the annual percentage payout would total nearly $1.2 million by the year 2064.
“It’s the only place where you can leave money specifically to your community,” Wearing said. “And it’s a great way to do that.”
Meeting the ongoing need
The Hansen Foundation, she said, also recognizes that residents know the most about their community’s needs and provides opportunities for residents to create or build a sustainable fund available to meet ongoing needs. One of those is an opportunity for community foundations to raise funds for a permanently endowed, unrestricted community grant fund. For every dollar raised, the Hansen Foundation provides a 100-percent match, up to a maximum of $50,000 per county. Like the community donations, the matching dollars will be added to the participating community foundation’s endowed unrestricted grant fund.
Besides traditional monthly grants, other programs like Strategic Doing, Wearing said, provide the resources for communities ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. The process brings civic and community leaders together to prioritize and collaborate on ideas that could transform a county in exchange for annual pass-through grant funding of $100,000 per year through 2021.
Qualifying community foundations who raise the full $50,000 can also earn operational grants made up of $5,000 in spendable funding and $20,000 endowed to create or add to an endowed administrative fund.
“Our purpose is geographically based to help residents in a 26-county area, and we’re blessed with these assets,” Wearing said. “I think the work we’re doing with foundations is important. It’s really special to be able to meet the needs of the community.”