Vital help: Philanthropy important to city

November is National Philanthropy Month, and this week is National Community Foundation Week. You might ask, so what?

Well, it provides an opportunity to reflect on some important work that goes on week in and week out throughout our community that makes our community the fantastic place it is.

Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County has been the go-to place for long-term investments in the community for 40 years. You may not know exactly what a community foundation does, but you have probably felt the impact of some of the work Heritage Fund does. For instance, in 2016:

19 nonprofit organizations expanded and improved thanks to grants from Heritage Fund of $450,000.

145 students received scholarship support totaling more than $600,000.

500-plus people attended the Exhibit Columbus Symposium, sponsored by Heritage Fund, including returning world-renowned architects such Deborah Berke and Robert Stern.

61 additional children were represented by a Court Appointed Special Advocate thanks to Heritage Fund support.

So one way to celebrate philanthropy is to contribute to an endowment at Heritage Fund, where your gift is invested, and the earnings provide money to address community issues today and tomorrow.

But philanthropy is more than making donations. It is one of the best ways for people to get truly engaged and involved with their community. Philanthropy is about getting informed and then choosing to volunteer your time and talents to make our community-based organizations better. Whether you choose to help at your church, a nonprofit organization, civic board or a neighborhood association, you are taking part in philanthropy and making a difference.

Across the country and the world, philanthropy has taken care of those who do not have a voice in the system, from refugee camps in war regions, to educational opportunities for women who cannot attend school, to children in our own backyard who go hungry on weekends and school holidays — and not always due to a family’s financial situation.

Philanthropy is about understanding the world around us and then taking action to make our community, state, country and the world a better place. It is people putting to work whatever they have (money, time, talents or just compassion) for the common good.

National Philanthropy Month is a good time to ask what you are doing to improve your world — or maybe, what could you be doing to improve your world?

Tracy Souza is president and CEO of Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County. Heritage Fund was formed as a community foundation in 1976. It was created primarily to: provide responsible stewardship of gifts donated for broad charitable purposes; promote leadership to address community issues; serve as a catalyst for positive change in partnership with others; and promote philanthropy broadly within the community. Send comments to