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Column: Fundraising campaign lifts entire community

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Philanthropic gifts are rewarding to make, exciting to receive and the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations.

Bartholomew County residents have an opportunity to effect all of these positive emotions and outcomes by participating in a fundraising campaign that could net an additional $1 million to support grants administered by the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

Heritage Fund provides gifts and grants to nonprofits in the county that are funded by donations and fundraising. Lilly Endowment’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) initiative is providing $66 million in dollar-for-dollar matches of donations to community foundations across the state. Because of Bartholomew County’s size, Heritage Fund is eligible for up to $1 million.

Lilly’s intention is to help community foundations build their funds so they in turn can provide greater assistance to nonprofits. Ultimately, the residents served by the nonprofits benefit. That helps a community as a whole.

All new donations through March 31, 2016, receive the dollar-for-dollar match; donations from private foundations are ineligible, however.

The matching dollars will augment Heritage Fund’s five-year capital campaign to raise $20 million by 2018. The community foundation’s assets were valued at $61.7 million at the end of 2013, up from $53.8 million at the end of 2012.

Lilly’s rules would require Heritage Fund to put $500,000 in its community fund, which doesn’t place restrictions of how grants are made. The remaining matching funds can be designated either for projects approved by Lilly, or placed into the community fund.

One Heritage Fund project, Engage Columbus, benefits residents individually and the community as a whole. Engage Columbus is the next step of the Welcoming Community initiative and is intended to more easily help people learn about the community and connect them to leadership experiences.

Helping Heritage Fund is especially important because its role as a supporter of community nonprofits has taken on added significance with the end of the Arvin and Irwin-Sweeney-Miller foundations. Early this year, the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation made a final local gift of $2 million to Heritage Fund.

County residents have a tremendous opportunity to step up and contribute. By giving the community will benefit. That’s a great reward.

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