National Philanthropy Day was Nov. 15. This is not a widely celebrated day, and most people would probably be hard-pressed to explain what philanthropy is and why a day was devoted to its observance.
There are 700 community foundations across the United States operating locally to affect job creation and training, education and economic growth. In 2011, the combined contribution of community foundations was more than $4.2 billion, supporting nonprofit activities in areas like the arts, education, health and human services, the environment and disaster relief.
Community foundations also provide a way for individuals and families to fulfill their philanthropic goals, either short term or by means of estate planning, by providing donations to establish scholarships, agency funds or general community support. Because community foundations live where they give, they also can provide guidance to donors about critical issues.
Community foundations are unique in that they exist to provide for the betterment of their community in perpetuity. In addition to financial resources, community foundations serve as strategic partners for local government and community groups bringing the right players to the table to invest, take risks where necessary and plot a course forward for the community.
Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County began in 1976, thanks to foresighted thinking and planning by a group of community members. During the years, many of the community’s busiest leaders have made time to join the board of directors and debate and create community improvement.
By 1983, the Heritage Fund had raised $3 million. Today, the endowment has grown to more than $45 million, which spins off annual grants and scholarships of almost $4 million a year.
Heritage Fund has a network of 28 thoughtful and dedicated board members supported by more than 20 community advisers, who volunteer their time to direct our endowment investments, research grants, select scholarship recipients and promote community initiatives like the Welcoming Community. These volunteers combined with thousands of donors make Heritage Fund truly a “community of possibilities.”
As I think about things to be thankful for this week, I am going to include all the people who have donated their time, talents and treasures to Heritage Fund and together created an asset that will serve the residents of Bartholomew County both now and in the future.
Tracy Souza is president and chief executive officer of the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.