07/01/07 — Wayne County Community Foundation wants to encourage at-home donations

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Wayne County Community Foundation wants to encourage at-home donations

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 1, 2007 2:01 AM

Wayne County Community Foundation is asking residents to think closer to home when they are deciding where they want to donate money.

The idea centers around gifts to a Community Fund, which provides annual grants for non-profit causes -- in this case, beneficiaries who are close to home.

But for many donors, their first thought is to give to much larger institutions and organizations, said Dr. Ed Wilson Jr., current president of the foundation board.

But when they do, often smaller groups go lacking.

"What we're trying to do is encourage people, rather than leave their money to N.C. State and Chapel Hill, to leave their money in their local community to benefit the local community," Wilson said.

It's now possible to make memorial contributions to an existing fund or to establish an endowed fund to honor the charitable interests of a loved one.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made to any organization or individual by establishing endowment funds with an investment of at least $10,000 or by contributing to the Community Fund.

"We can help them develop a foundation for $10,000 that perpetuates itself ... gives you the opportunity to contribute to whatever cause -- scholarships, a donor fund," Wilson said. "This is a real simple, inexpensive way to set up a foundation for a modest fee."

Kelly Joyner Lee, coastal plains regional associate for the state foundation, said that grants can be earmarked for different non-profit organizations -- Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, WAGES, even a church. The ideal is to build up unrestricted funds.

Call it a way to invest in the community long after you're gone, Wilson said.

"It's the difference between the charitable checkbook and the charitable savings account," Ms. Lee said. "In the form of a community foundation endowment, they're going to be guaranteed a certain amount every year (goes to the cause)."

Even though the community foundation has been around for more than seven years, Wilson said efforts are being made to become more proactive in publicizing the opportunity.

"We have done some educational programs for folks that deal with attorneys, CPA and investment planning," Wilson said. "Also workshops for non-profits which let them know how easy it is to do this."

Likewise, the state group has recognized the need to extend its efforts into rural areas. Currently, there are an estimated 66 affiliates in counties and smaller areas around the state, Ms. Lee said.

"People donate to the community because they want to help their organization," she said.

Such a spirit of giving goes beyond the actual financial amount, she added. It's about learning where the needs are and responding to them.

"People are really embracing philanthropy and realizing you don't have to be a millionaire to be a philanthropist," she said. "And what a beautiful way to honor someone. Get a group of people together and for just $10,000 start something that honors that person and that's going to last forever."

Or earmark a lesser amount for the Community Fund or to whatever cause is near and dear to the person's heart, she added.

For more information on the foundation, contact Ms. Lee at 252-245-1794 or visit the NCCF Web site at nccommunityfoundation.org and click on "Affiliates."