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Foundation financial report: Heritage Fund’s assets growing

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Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County has raised about one-third of the money it seeks for a campaign that will increase its asset funds and allow the organization to offer more grants and scholarships.

The community foundation provides gifts and grants to nonprofit organizations in Bartholomew County that are funded by community donations and fundraising.

Heritage Fund’s assets were $61.7 million at the end of 2013, up from $53.8 million at the end of 2012. When the foundation’s assets were at about $55 million, the idea for an asset-development campaign arose. The goal is to raise an additional $20 million by 2018, Heritage Fund President and CEO Tracy Souza said.

So far, the foundation has raised $2.73 million in cash donations and another $4 million in non-cash contributions and pledges, Souza said.

An update about the five-year fundraising effort and other plans will be presented during the foundation’s annual meeting, 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Mill Race Center.

“It is our opportunity to report to our donors and the stakeholders: Here’s what we are doing with your money,” Souza said.

Looking ahead

After reviewing what the foundation accomplished in 2013, its initiatives for this year will be revealed. Heritage Fund plans include:

Raising funds for its asset-development campaign.

Awarding more Welcoming Community grants, which fund events that promote community involvement.

Creating an online scholarship request process.

Finding more donors.

Creating prekindergarten scholarships for private schools in Bartholomew County.

Some of the foundation’s contributions in the past have been for projects such as renovation of The Commons, construction of Mill Race Center and kidscommons, and the Dictionary Project, which provides free dictionaries to third-grader students.

In 2013, the foundation awarded $313,000 in scholarships and about 300 grants for nonprofit organizations, Souza said.

Heritage Fund contributed $50,000 to the Hamilton Center project through the Parks Foundation and a total of $90,000 to the Ninth Street Parks project working with the city of Columbus and Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, Souza said.

In 2012, the Heritage Fund pledged $250,000 to the People Trails project, payable over three years, she said.

The foundation also created in 2013 an endowment challenge targeting nonprofit groups.

Souza said nonprofits were challenged to increase their endowment fund or start a new one with $10,000. The foundation would then provide an additional $5,000 for the endowment fund.

“We’ve had 10 nonprofits that have been building on their endowments and they’ve done really well,” she said.

Some of the nonprofit groups that participated in the endowment challenge include the Columbus Area Arts Council, the AgrIInstitute Fund, the African-American Fund of Bartholomew County, the Love Chapel, United Way and the Housing Partnerships.

Karen Shrode, Columbus Area Arts Council executive director, said the challenge offered a great incentive that initiated raising money for something that’s vital to their mission.

“We need that funding in reserve just for long-term sustainability and rainy-day funds,” she said. “It’s also important for regular donors to understand that we’re a healthy organization and that we have financial longevity.”

Heritage Fund’s staff was full of fresh faces in 2013, Souza said. Scholarship Manager Amy Laker, Vice President of Development Amber Fischvogt and Community Grant and Outreach Manager Kristin Munn were new employees.

Souza said the staff spent a significant amount of time creating relationships with existing donors and stakeholders, who were all familiar with the previous staff.

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