Make a Lasting Difference in Your Community
So often we tend to live life for the moment. Tony Watkins, executive director of the Community Foundation of West Kentucky understands that charitable groups and non-profit institutions have eminent needs, but his counsel is to also think about the future and the long-term viability of the organization or cause being championed.
“A community foundation is a vehicle for people of all means to make a lasting difference in their community,” he explains. “The central purpose of a community foundation is to serve the needs and philanthropic aims of donors who wish to better their community, now and in the future. We do this by providing donors with flexible, efficient and tax-effective ways to ensure their charitable giving achieves the greatest possible impact.”
A community foundation is designed to build, over time, substantial endowment funds for a community through contributions large and small. Because these contributions are endowed, they are never spent. Instead, they are permanently invested to produce income. The income earned is then used to meet the community’s charitable needs—from social work to art and culture.
“We have a host of varied organizations involved with the Community Foundation of West Kentucky,” Tony adds. “From Child Watch to the Market House Theatre to the Quilt Museum to Easter Seals, groups of every nature can come to us for help in setting up an endowment fund. We then pro- vide a strong group of financial experts who supervise the management of these investments on an on-going basis. These local financial professionals work primarily through the Trust Department at Paducah Bank to keep a close eye on the market and the viability of these funds.”
A community foundation is a tax-exempt organization and all contributions are tax deductible to the maximum amount allowable for gifts to a public charity. Donors may contribute money, stock or other assets. Donors can direct their gifts to a wide variety of charitable causes or community needs, or gifts can be designated for use in a general fund.
“The Foundation can help in a number of ways,” Tony comments. “A few months ago, the Tilghman Heritage Museum needed a new roof. After a public solicitation, someone who received the request came to us as a donor and we were able to designate this person’s contribution to the Heritage Museum. During our consultation with the director of the museum, we were also able to identify a $25,000 grant for use at the museum, and we helped them to establish an endowment fund with the Foundation.”
One of the Foundation’s newest fund-raising projects has to do with fun-running. The annual Fund Run for Charities involves a 5k run and recreational walk. Non-profit organizations participate and raise money on their own. Then the Community Foundation matches the funds raised up to $10,000 to help establish a permanent endowment under the charity’s name.
But it’s about more than just the finding of funds. “I’ve been doing this type of consulting for 20 years,” Tony says. “Often we can help groups and organizations avoid some of the pitfalls that are inherent in building and managing an endowment. We want to help build for the future as well as meet the needs of the moment.”For more information on the Community Foundation of West Kentucky, contact Tony Watkins at 270.442.8622.