Donations help nonprofits

December 29, 1998|By BRUCE HAMILTON

The Community Foundation of Washington County gave nearly $19,000 to 32 local nonprofit organizations during its first year of operations, according to board Chairman John L. Waltersdorf.

"It is a real satisfaction to be able to report that the foundation is already fulfilling its basic mission - using donors' tax deductible gifts ... to help support a broad range of qualified nonprofit organizations," Waltersdorf said in a press release.

The foundation was formed in 1996 but did not officially open for business until November 1997. By July, it had $75,000 invested in two funds. It now has 14 separate funds with total assets of more than $200,000, Executive Director Robert L. Kenney said.

The foundation's goal is to have $500,000 invested by the end of 1999, according to Kenney. He said he hopes the group will gain momentum as its reputation grows.


"We spent our first year getting the community acquainted with us," generating support and encouraging donors, Kenney said.

"I think we're confident now as a viable community organization. We're well enough known and we're going to be here forever," he said.

The foundation receives tax-deductible gifts and invests the money in permanent endowment funds. Once it reaches its $500,000 goal, it will use the earnings from the funds to give yearly grants to community causes.

The money distributed this year came from donors who used a "provisional fund," giving money directly instead of investing.

Most of the anonymous donors are business people, Kenney said.

The foundation accepts various types of gifts, including real estate and life insurance. "Most people give appreciated stock," thus avoiding capital gains tax, Kenney said.

There are at least 10 community foundations in the state, according to the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations. Baltimore and Columbia as well as Prince George's and Montgomery counties have similar institutions.

The Community Foundation of Frederick County, for example, formed in 1986. It now has 230 different funds with total assets of more than $13.5 million, according to Executive Director Elizabeth Y. Day.

Community foundations are "a growing trend that's going to skyrocket," she said.

Local foundation officials hope donations do too.

"We are confident that as the foundation's advantages become more widely understood, it will soon be recognized as one of the most important forces for improving Washington County's quality of life," said Waltersdorf.

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