My turn

Community philanthropy - giving back in hard times

2013-03-08T00:00:00Z Community philanthropy - giving back in hard timesBy Dave Ryan Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The severe recession of 2007-08 did not bring charitable giving to a screeching halt, but it did play havoc with the endowments of community foundations everywhere.

The stock market took a serious nose-dive in the past five years and these charitable endowments, the life-blood of community foundations, lost money that normally would be distributed to local nonprofit organizations.

While these drops in dollar value were significant, and hampered the missions of local foundations, we all know that what goes up must come down, and conversely, what goes down will eventually come back up (hopefully) – and thankfully, it has.

Lake County has a variety of nonprofit organizations who rely on the charitable giving of such entities as our own Legacy Foundation for sustainability.

The Legacy Foundation, established in 1992 by a stalwart group of founding members (led by Cal Bellamy, Bill Wellman, Mary Linda Casey, and Ed Radigan), has given millions of dollars to fund not only education, but also arts and culture, health and human services, community development, and civic affairs, just to name a few categories that have benefited from grants.

During difficult economic times, the Legacy Foundation continued to fund local nonprofits, but at smaller funding levels than in the past. In 2013, as the economy continues to rebound, the Legacy Foundation has embarked upon an aggressive campaign to grow its endowment base from $40 million to $100 million dollars over the next five years.

These endowed funds are forever, and will be used to sustain the Legacy Foundation for generations to come. Under the leadership of Harry VanDeVelde III and his expert staff, the Legacy Foundation will continue to thrive and grow.

You might ask, “ Why should I support a community foundation, particularly if I do not have significant dollars to contribute”?

The answer is simple, gifts of all sizes are welcome, and encouraged. A community foundation such as Legacy provides many ways for donors to invest money that they wish to be used for the good of the community. Dollars are always needed for scholarship funds to help a deserving young student get an education, or memorial funds for loved ones, or a community fund to address the needs of today as well as tomorrow.

There are many ways to provide for the future of Lake County, and to give a lasting legacy that will be sustained forever via the Legacy Foundation endowments. Visit www.legacyfoundationlakeco.org, and you will be amazed to see how this strong community foundation has benefited Lake County since 1992.

Dave Ryan is the executive director of the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own. He can be reached at dryan@lakeshorechamber.com or (219) 931-1000.

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