Herald-Whig View

Future looks bright for Community Foundation

Posted: Nov. 5, 2017 12:01 am

THE impact of the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri has been felt for two decades in 12 counties across the region.

The foundation is celebrating that milestone this month, not so much to acknowledge the past but to envision the future.

And that future is bright.

The foundation has awarded more than 2,700 grants totaling more than $5 million during its first 20 years, figures that undoubtedly will continue to increase as its more than 175 charitable and endowment funds grow.

Nonprofit organizations and a wide variety of causes important to foundation donors benefit from the organization's philanthropy.

Earlier this year, the foundation awarded more than $700,000 in grants, including more than $108,000 in competitive grants.

In amounts large and small, more than 3,000 donors have placed their trust in the Community Foundation to carry out their personalized philanthropic wishes, secure in the knowledge that the region and its people will benefit.

Most important, the return on those investments will continue to address significant needs for decades to come.

Individuals, estates, foundations and corporations contributed an estimated $390.05 billion to U.S. charities in 2016, according to "Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016," released in June.

The Council on Foundations reports that community foundations are the fastest growing philanthropic sector in the U.S., with more than 780 across the country. They are popular because they directly connect donor interests with community needs.

The lasting -- and ongoing -- impact of the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri was aptly captured by Joanne Dedert, the executive director of Madonna House, which assists individuals and families in crisis. Dedert told The Herald-Whig that nonprofit organizations such as Madonna House are "like spokes in a wheel," and the foundation represents the wheel that moves those nonprofits forward.

The foundation began with $1,050 in 1997, a total that has mushroomed to $35 million today. It achieves most of its goals through endowment funds, which are designed to keep the principal amount intact while using the investment income from dividends for charitable efforts.

That sustained growth puts the foundation on pace to soon be able to distribute $1 million annually to benefit critical projects and programs across four counties in Illinois and eight counties in Missouri.

Clearly, through its collaborative efforts and the generosity of donors, the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri has had a significant impact on this region.

As it marks its 20th year, it is poised to build on that success to continue to benefit the communities and causes it serves.

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