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Investing in Fort Dodge’s future

Five new endowment funds show how to have an impact

February 13, 2011
Messenger News

What is a legacy? John Maxwell, author of numerous books on leadership, said, "What you do with the future means the difference between leaving a track record and leaving a legacy. Legacies aren't just wishful thinking, they encompass the past, the present, and the future."

Legacies are the result of accomplishment. They are more or less what someone is remembered for; to leave a lasting legacy is a journey from success to significance. A legacy could involve an idea, a significant achievement, or a fund that is making a difference in one's community or nation. A legacy may be something you leave behind that will benefit others-perhaps future generations. An endowed gift is a perfect example.

The Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way recently established five new endowed funds that will provide long-term charitable support to a wide range of community causes and charitable organizations. The Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way promotes endowment giving because endowed funds make the most powerful and lasting impact on our community and region. Creating an endowed charitable fund gives citizens the opportunity to give back to their community, the place they call home; the place where they raised their family, made their living and shared their lives with lifelong friends and neighbors.

Endowed funds serve as permanent "investment account" for our community and region. They are held in perpetuity. Endowed funds are prudently invested to grow over time. A portion of the earnings from the funds' balance (usually 4 to 5 percent) can be granted out on an annual basis to support community needs and charitable causes specified by the donor. The remainder of the investment yield is returned to the principal so the funds will continue to grow and become a permanent source of capital, helping do good work today and in the future. When donors create an endowed charitable fund with the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, they create an opportunity to benefit the community today and tomorrow.

A donor-advised endowment fund offers donors the opportunity to create an easy-to-establish and flexible vehicle for charitable giving. This type of endowed fund offers donors complete flexibility to support any charitable organization, purpose or cause of the donor's preference. Their recommendations can be made on an annual basis allowing donors to support different organizations each year if they so desire. Endowed funds with the Community Foundation can support a wide range of community organizations, needs and causes including human services, education, health, recreation, arts and culture, environment, community beautification, public safety, youth development, economic development and more.

According to Susan Ahlers Leman, president of the board for the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, "Citizens who establish endowment gifts often have a long-term vision for their community and for the charitable organizations and causes they support. Establishing an endowed gift through the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way is a great way to establish a legacy and give back to the community for perpetuity."

Fact Box

How an endowment works

An essential component of the work of community foundations is building a permanent collection of endowed funds through contributions made by many donors. These contributions are carefully invested for maximum return and growth, ensuring that the funds will exist in perpetuity. The growth of the endowment funds and the income earned help to provide the grant dollars necessary to carry out the charitable objectives of the donors who established them. Endowed funds held at local community foundations typically have a granting policy in the range of 4 to 5 percent. This means that over time, more grant dollars are available to the community and the endowment fund itself continues to grow.

YEAR 1: Establish an endowment fund - $20,000 gift

YEAR 15: $19,000 in cumulative grants have been made; $32,000 fund balance

YEAR 25: $38,000 in cumulative grants; $46,000 fund balance

YEAR 50: $132,000 in cumulative grants; $114,000 fund balance

25 percent Endow Iowa Credits

The Endow Iowa Tax Credit program was created to allow new and innovative opportunities for donors to enhance the quality of life in their communities. Donors who establish an endowed fund with a qualified community foundation - the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way is a qualified community foundation - are eligible to receive a 25 percent state of Iowa tax credit for the amount of their gift and also take full advantage of federal income tax deductions that are afforded to charitable gifts.

In essence, donors who endow their gifts can make a difference in their community during their lifetime and, at the same time, provide a gift that lasts forever. An endowment fund can be a family's legacy. Grants will continue to be made in the name of the fund the donor establishes so the donor or his/her family's charitable wishes are preserved. It can create a vision for a better community long after their lifetime and touch the lives of citizens, children and families for decades to come.

The board of directors of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way is very enthused about these new endowment funds because they have the potential to grow and provide charitable support in our community for decades. The people who have established these endowed gifts all have one thing in common, a sincere desire to help others in our community and do so for the long-term. What a wonderful legacy!

John and Betty Haire Endowment Fund

Former residents of Fort Dodge, John and Betty Haire, recently made a significant gift to establish a donor-advised endowment fund. The Haires have had a long standing connection to the community. John was born in Fort Dodge. His family settled in the area in the 1800s. Betty's family moved to Fort Dodge in the 1930s. John and Betty were married at Corpus Christi Church, raised their family in Fort Dodge and worked here. They also, over the years, made many lifetime friends.

John and Betty have always had strong connections to Fort Dodge and returning to the place they shared many happy memories together was important to them. By establishing an endowment fund with the Foundation, the Haire family will help to support important and necessary programs for the community while also continuing the family's lifelong connection to Fort Dodge.

Knoploh Fund

Former Fort Dodge residents, Greg Knoploh and his wife Barbara Jo Hime, recently donated their former Fort Dodge home to the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way. The proceeds from the sale of their home were used to establish an endowment fund to support the preservation, restoration and reconstruction of native lands including prairie, woodlands and wetlands in Fort Dodge and Webster County. Funds will also be used to advance education of youths or citizens concerning biology, ecology, history, preservation, or restoration of Iowa's native lands including prairies, woodlands, and wetlands. Greg Knoploh stated, "Iowa's native prairies, woodlands and wetlands provide us with many benefits including water quality, wildlife habitat, and connecting to Iowa's natural history and beauty. We are enthused that the Fund will be used to promote the restoration and appreciation of such areas."

Ed Miller

Helen Miller, in loving memory of her husband Ed, has established a donor-advised endowment fund to honor Ed's longtime services to citizens in the Fort Dodge area. Ed was a family-practice physician who was known as a doctor who truly cared about his patients. Ed had a personal concern for the poor and was a physician leader in advancing care for the poor and uninsured.

Judge Albert and Janet Habhab Fund

Judge Albert and Janet Habhab established a donor-advised endowment fund to provide long-term charitable support for charitable organizations in Fort Dodge and Webster County. They did this as a way to give back to the community that they have loved and supported for many years.

Doris and Pat Merrill

Doris Merrill and her daughter Pat established the George and Doris Merrill Family Foundation, a donor-advised endowed fund with the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way to support scholarships for students and nonprofit organizations that are focused on helping people in need. Because George and Doris Merrill and their daughter Pat have spent their lives in Hamilton County, the majority of their charitable support is focused on helping citizens and students from Hamilton County.

"The human contribution is the essential ingredient in life. It is only in the giving of oneself and one's assets that we truly live." - Ethel Percy Andrus. This quote delineates the real human quality that inspires one to establish an endowment fund. In the true spirit of giving, these endowment funds will support important work in our community - work that will improve lives and enhance the quality of life of future generations.

For more information about how an endowment fund or a donor-advised fund might meet your long-term charitable goals, contact the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way at 573-3179, or visit our web site at and click on The Fort Dodge Endowment icon.

Randy Kuhlman is chief executive officer of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way.



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