Inspired by the 100th anniversary of the founding of America’s first community foundation, the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation (EWVCF) has launched a campaign to raise $25,000 to create its first Visionary Fund; an endowment that will be invested with the organization’s other assets and, over the next 100 years, grow to more than $25 million. Along the way, the Visionary Fund will distribute more than $1.3 million to area nonprofit organizations and, beginning in 2114, grant approximately $1.2 million annually to fund the Eastern Panhandle’s most pressing charitable needs.
“We believe in providing a lasting legacy for generations to come, and through the power of compounding will be able to do that with this Visionary Fund,” stated EWVCF President Scott Roach. “Based on historic investment returns, we project that the Visionary Fund will grow at 8% annually and by 2064 will top $1.1 million.“ No administrative fee (normally 1% annually) will be assessed and no distributions will be made during the first 50 years. At that time one half of the fund will become an unrestricted endowment awarding annual grants of $25,000 or more per year to area charities, and the other half will continue to grow without fees or distributions.
The concept was inspired by Ben Franklin, who in his Last Will and Testament left bequests to Boston and Philadelphia predicated on their stewardship of the asset for 100 years before expending funds to benefit their citizens. A portion of Franklin’s gift was then reinvested for another 100 years. Important public works projects were funded, including the Franklin Institute, one of the nation’s foremost science centers.
“The beauty of compounding returns is that once your assets reach a certain critical mass, the gains really start building quickly,” explained EWVCF Executive Director Michael Whalton. “To illustrate, the community foundation has paid out more than $2 million in grants during the past two years, yet thanks to excellent market returns, our net assets have grown by more than $1 million, to $16.6 million in 2013.”
The Visionary Fund is just one of several programs being introduced by the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation in 2014. Additionally, the organization’s Partners In Philanthropy are engaged in funding Mini-Grants to Teachers in all three counties as well as establishing the Jefferson Community Fund; the first of three unrestricted countywide funds that will address the Eastern Panhandle’s most pressing charitable needs. The highlight of the upcoming Scholars & Donors Reception on May 13th will be the presentation of $82,000 in scholarships to students heading off to colleges or universities in the fall.
The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation was founded in 1995 to build local, permanent endowment to generate annual charitable grants and scholarships. EWVCF serves Jefferson, Berkeley, and Morgan Counties, with affiliates in Hampshire and Hardy Counties. Community foundations focus almost entirely on working with local individuals to build local assets to meet local needs. There are currently more than 700 community foundations serving donors across America, with 26 actively building endowments and making grants in West Virginia. Total assets held by EWVCF topped $16.6 million in 2013, and the organization currently manages 174 endowed funds.
By supporting special endowments like the Visionary Fund and the Jefferson Community Fund, donors can help ensure that the Community Foundation will thrive during the next 100 years. For information about the Partners in Philanthropy program or to make a donation to the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation Visionary Fund, call 304-264-0353 or mail your check to EWVCF, 229 E. Martin Street, Suite 4, Martinsburg, WV 25401.