Business leaders and residents of Manawa learned about the benefits the Community Foundation can have on a community.
The presentation on Monday, Oct. 28, was hosted by the Manawa Revitalization Committee and featured Curt Detjen as the featured speaker. Detjen is the president, CEO of Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Inc.
He shared a brief history of the Community Foundation, as well as the benefits a community can reap by being involved with the Community Foundation.
Detjen informed the crowd that the first Community Foundation was established in 1914 in Cleveland. There are also more than 750 Community Foundations in the United States — 23 of them in Wisconsin. The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region is the second largest in the state, behind only Milwaukee.
The Community Foundation of the Fox Valley Region was formed in 1986, Detjen said. Since then, a total of $174 million in grants have been given out. The region includes Shawano, Waupaca, Outagamie, and Calumet counties, as well as the northern half of Winnebago County.
Detjen said typically a private family foundation is established by a wealthy person or wealthy family. The Community Foundation can offer more than a private family foundation.
“What if there was a way to pool some of those together and to give people of even more modest means the opportunity to have all the advantages of a private foundation by doing it in a more collective manner?” Detjens asked.
A variety of things can be donated to the Community Foundation, including cash, securities, real estate, privately held company stock, and insurance policies. Detjen said the Community Foundation looks for ways to allow people to be charitable.
“We can get kind of creative and we really try to work with each individual donor who has an interest in accomplishing something and has a charitable element to it,” Detjen said.
There are 1,300 charitable funds in the Fox Valley region. Each fund in the Community Foundation has to have a defined purpose. This is determined when the fund is created.
“Most people tend to put their own family names on the name of the fund so that when the grants go out of the fund they’re connected with the individual,” Detjen said.
Any fund in the Community Foundation can receive a gift from anybody in any amount. Donations are tax deductible.
“Every grant distribution has to be consistent with the fund’s purpose or we can’t make it,” Detjen said. “It has to be legit with the IRS and it has to be consistent with the fund’s purpose.”
During the question and answer segment of the presentation it was learned that there is a minimum amount needed to start a fund in the Community Foundation. Because donations to a nonprofit can’t be returned, funds also have a secondary use in case the original purpose of the fund never materializes.
“Most of the time people will choose to donate and establish a charitable fund in the Community Foundation because they are looking for somebody to partner with and help them to be the most effective with their charitable giving that they can be,” Detjen said. “For organizations and civic groups like yours the advantage is you got a credible, time tested, reputable organization that donors can trust.
Detjen said creating a fund in the Community Foundation can help with fundraising because people can trust the foundation.
“It can be an asset to you because I think it opens up more avenues. It eliminates some of the excuses people might use to not donate,” Detjen said. “But it’s not going to happen unless there are people in the community that they know. You have to be the champions for it.”
Detjen said Clintonville and Waupaca are part of the Community Foundation. He said in 2003 Waupaca had no funds in the Community Foundation, but now has 48 charitable funds.
“It was about credibility and it was about people taking their pride and their sense of place and wanting to invest and build something,” Detjen said. “There were a lot of people who were interested in that idea in the last 10 years.”
One of the keys to getting started is getting the community to talk, and building momentum on that.
“I would love for this meeting to turn into something that is going to be talked about,” Detjen said.