Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009
By Susan Shinn
Prospective donors who don’t have their own foundations and who would like to give money have another option for philanthropy ó being a part of the Salisbury Community Foundation.
In 2005, the foundation became an affiliate of the Foundation for the Carolinas, based in Charlotte.
FFTC works with 13 counties in North and South Carolina. There are 700 such community foundations across the country. FFTC ranks fourth in giving.
“We’re definitely very generous,” says Bart Landess, senior vice president for development and planned giving at Foundation for the Carolinas.
If that figure were adjusted for per capita giving, Landess suspects the Charlotte metro area would rank no. 1.
Per capita giving, Landess explains, is highest in the Northeast. That’s where the most money is and that’s where old money is.
“We hold lots and lots of different funds,” Landess says, more than 1,700.
For a minimum of $10,000, you can open a donor-advised account.
“It’s a really good vehicle for charitable giving and it’s good for tax purposes, too,” says Patsy Rendleman, president of the Salisbury Community Foundation.
While interest from the local foundation is disbursed mainly in Salisbury, funds from the donor-advised accounts can go anywhere, Rendleman says.
The Salisbury Community Foundation, Rendleman says, would like more donors.
“People don’t realize that they can participate,” she says, “and we really need them.”
Whereas private foundations are single entities, public foundations were formed from the “community chest” concept reminiscent in the game of Monopoly.
This was money that the community used to build itself up, Landess says.
The oldest such groups were founded in the teens, ’20s and ’30s.
Following the Civil War, families such as the Reynolds, the Dukes and the Cannons began to make their fortunes through textile mills and tobacco. Their foundations came into being in the ’20s and 30s.
Today, for example, the Duke Endowment’s assets stand at $3 billion, Landess says.
Newer community foundations ó those formed within the last 50 years ó usually have living donors with many different interests.
“They are using us as a service provider to help them to do their philanthropy,” Landess says.
By law, distributions from endowed funds must be disbursed at the rate of at least 5 percent per year.
So the Duke Endowment will give away a minimum of $150 million annually, Landess says.
The Foundation for the Carolinas employs a staff of 50 ó among them attorneys, accountants, grant makers and MBAs.
“Our donors love having a source of knowledge available to them,” Landess says.
The Salisbury Community Foundation is actually older than FFTC, Landess points out. It was formed in 1944.
Current board members include Rendleman; Christine P. Whitton, vice chair; Sara D. Cook, secretary; Paul E. Fisher, treasurer; Judy Grissom, R. Darrell Hancock, Susan W. Kluttz, Dwight F. Messinger, Tom E. Smith, Alice M. Stanback and William C. Stanback.
“There are some very generous individuals and foundations in Salisbury,” Landess says. “All of the people I work with are successful and generous, but they come in all shapes and sizes.”
In general, Landess says, “they tend not to want to draw attention to themselves. Most are not motivated by naming opportunities. They’re just altruistic people.”
He continues, “Most of our donors are older. Most of them have had families who have had wealth for at least two generations.”
Their big gifts, Landess says, come from assets, not income.
Big donors, he says, are also big planners when it comes to their donations.
“These are very successful people, and they tend to be planners anyway.
“They plan on how funds are distributed to their families and they plan on how funds are distributed to their communities.”
The general public, Landess says, knows “very little” about charitable foundations.
“The proportion of the population that can afford to give away serious money is very small,” Landess says, noting that only 5 percent of households make more than $174,000 a year. “In order to give away serious money, you’re going to have to be making money.”
Large charities, he says, are successful at accessing available funds, while smaller ones are less so ó mainly because of the lack of staffing.
Some small charities have their endowments based at FFTC.
So giving money and asking for money is a two-way street here.
“Boards know their charities really well,” Landess says. “They give feedback to other donors.”
The foundation also provides informal consultations to charities ó which foundation might be a good fit for their projects.
If you’re applying for funds, Landess advises, make sure you do your homework, and follow all directions on application forms.
Conversely, Landess says, giving away money can be hard ó you want to make sure you pick the right thing.
Take the recent round of grantmaking cycle for the Salisbury Community Foundation, for example.
“They had $60,000 to give away and $300,000 in requests,” Landess says. “They had some tough decisions to make.”
Boards want to see a good use of the money they give, Landess says, and a measurable outcome.
So why give money away?
Landess asserts that philanthropy makes you wealthy.
Philanthropists have funded hospitals and libraries.
Would you be in better financial shape if you were healthy? Yes. If you were better educated? Of course.
“People do things for various reasons,” Landess says of giving. “They build up whatever interests them.”
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or email@example.com.