Dan Davis: Community foundation adds seven community funds

Seven new community funds focus their energies on financing grants for the fall grant cycle at the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

Approved in 2021 and 2022, the new funds will pay their first grants to support the annual grant cycle this October.

Who knows what type of work, program and challenges they will help fund with their first grants this year or in their 20th year or in their 50th year? The possibilities are as endless as the funds’ lifetimes.

Those new funds are the Jackson Lodge No. 146 FAM Endowment, Helen Bill Swain Community Endowment, J.B. Carrie Hackman Community Fund, Bob Poynter GM Community Fund, Donald J. Klaes Community Endowment, Cathy Grant Schneider Community Endowment and Jim Schneider Community Endowment.

They brought the number of endowed community funds at the foundation to 29 and will boost grant dollars to the fall grant cycle this year by $8,490.

Community funds are an important part of the work administered by the foundation in that they provide flexibility in our granting to support community work, initiatives and emerging needs. These funds and the grants that they provide can make a huge impact on our community.

“That’s exactly what community funds are all about — creating a big impact on the lives of those calling Jackson County home,” said Bruce Wynn, chairman of the foundation’s board of directors. “It’s a great way to give back to the community.”

Giving back is part of the reason behind J.B. and Carrie Hackman of Brownstown establishing their endowment and that for Bob Poynter GM.

“We chose a community fund because we want to help lift people up in our county,” J.B. said. “We believe in helping our local community. We know and have confidence in our community foundation. We feel they will be a great partner.”

These funds have no restrictions on how the grant dollars are paid out. With designated funds, the fund agreement designates the grant recipient. With donor-advised funds, the donors tell the foundation where to pay out grants. Recipients can run the gamut, provided they’re eligible according to federal law, and can change year to year according to a donor’s wishes.

But the decision on how grant dollars from community funds are awarded has no such designations or donor directives. Those decisions are left to the grant committee and staff to make recommendations to the board of directors — to consider and approve, ensuring that recipients meet IRS guidelines for charitable organizations.

That flexibility saw the foundation approve a $15,000 impact grant funded with earnings from the Jackson County Unrestricted Endowment in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That action stirred Helen and Bill Swain of Seymour to make a gift into the Jackson County COVID-19 Response Fund, feeling a need to help local nonprofits at a trying time.

About a year later, the Swains were interested in creating their community endowment to continue that support.

“We believe that an organized group and fund will generate more interest, more funding and more participation by the citizens of the community,” Helen said of their decision when starting the fund.

The deadline for filing an application is July 31. Applications are available online at cfjacksoncounty.org. Click on “Grants” and then the “Fall Grants” button. Foundation Vice President Sue Smith and I are happy to review applications ahead of filing.

Anyone, including businesses, can donate to existing community funds or start their own named fund. If you would like to learn more or further explore how you might give back, call me at 812-523-4483 and arrange a time for us to talk. Who knows. A community fund — or perhaps some other type of fund — just might be the right vehicle for how you choose to give back.

Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. For information about donating opportunities with the foundation, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to [email protected].