By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
A decision we make today can last a long time — maybe forever.
“It is possible a decision we make today will have an impact on generations yet to be born,” said Mary Stallings, executive director of Cherokee Strip Community Foundation.
The first community foundation was established in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio, by community leader Frederick Goff, she said. Cherokee Strip Community Foundation was established in 2000 to provide a permanent source of funding to respond to needs in Enid and northwest Oklahoma communities, Stallings said. By encouraging individuals, families, businesses and organizations to create endowment funds at the foundation, it has succeeded in building Enid’s future into a charitable one.
“An endowment fund is permanent. The initial investment that creates the fund, along with the gifts that are added over the years, will always be at the community foundation to generate income to meet future needs,” she said during a speech Monday at Enid Rotary Club.
One of the earliest investors in the local foundation was the Sisters of Mercy Health System, Stallings said. Soon after the foundation was established in 2000, it received a $1.8 million investment from the Sisters of Mercy, to be matched and to be held as a permanent endowment, with the principal invested and the income used for grant-making purposes in Enid and northwest Oklahoma, she said.
“The Sisters of Mercy clearly understood the implications of a gift of endowment,” Stallings said.
The Sisters of Mercy fund matched dollar for dollar for every donation that was received over a two-year time period up to $1.8 million. Fifty cents of every dollar matched went into grant-making and the other half was applied to the donor’s gift for matching to create funds for local charities. The Sisters of Mercy fund and other funds established demonstrate how endowment funds can fulfill the charitable goals of their donors and meet community needs far into the future, she said.
“In the past 13 years, hundreds of individuals, families and businesses have established funds with the Cherokee Strip Community Foundation to carry out their charitable giving or provide scholarships, now and in the future,” Stallings said.
Among the early founders were Kelly Champlin, Karl Bovee, Tim Traynor, Allan McCobb, Greg Allen and Hal Martin. Today, the fund has expanded to other areas of northwest Oklahoma, including Woodward and Alva. One of the basic goals of the foundation is to improve the community, not just distribute funds. The foundation supports a number of education, arts and social service organizations.
Stallings said endowments are vital to a nonprofit organization’s success, because they know having a constant source of funding helps them respond to emergency needs, as well as plan for the future. Grants from unrestricted funds are awarded once a year. The deadline for 2013 grants was Monday.
The community foundation offers a number of types of funds:
• Agency funds allow agencies to create a saving account through the community foundation, utilizing the foundation’s money managers, with minimal withdrawals.
• Affiliated funds are an alternative to a private foundation for a large endowment or charitable trust. It is appropriate for private foundation management.
• Charitable organization endowments are an easy way for charitable organizations to have an endowment and for donors to support the organization.
• Designated funds allow donors to designate payment at the time of the gift to a charity, agency or project. An individual or an organization with a donation of $10,000 or more may set up a named designated fund.
• Donor-advised funds allow the donor to suggest what charity should receive money, on approval of the foundation Board of Trustees. There is a $10,000 minimum on this fund.
• Express funds. Stallings referred to this fund as a simple way to make a gift of stock or other asset in one tax year and decide on the beneficiary at a later time.
• Field of interest funds are tied to a general area of interest and not to a specific organization. The foundation uses the donor’s suggestions and other criteria to select a grant recipient.
• Gift funds serve the needs of donors with longer-term distribution plan, with the option of investment growth and the flexibility to eventually distribute the entire gift for charitable purposes.
• Undesignated funds provide money that is awarded in grants by the foundation’s Board of Trustees. An undesignated donation is ideal for people who want to leave a legacy that will benefit many concerns within the community.
Stallings recognized some of the foundation’s donors. The family of Denny Price established a YMCA Endowment Fund that received matching funds from the Sister’s of Mercy. Price died while playing basketball with his son at the YMCA. The fund created in 2000 has averaged 5 percent, or between $40,000 and $50,000, annually for the YMCA.
“Most of these needs could not have been anticipated in 2001,” she said.
Stallings also mentioned the late Walter Scheffe, a longtime Enid pharmacist and owner of Scheffe Prescription Shops.
A a founding trustee of the community foundation, he attended every board meeting and was dedicated to the investment committee. Scheffe created an endowment with a large gift, the Scheffe Fund for Enid’s Endowment Growth.
“Mr. Scheffe understood the impact that a permanent endowment can make,” Stallings said.
She also recognized the Jeanine and John Bowers Jr. Family Fund, established in 2000.
That was followed by the Susan and John W. Bowers III Family Endowment Fund, established the same day.
In 2006, John Bowers IV established his family community donor funds, creating three endowments from the same family.
The foundations has more than 140 funds totaling $13.7 million in assets.