Community Foundation puts $250,000 toward social agency endowments

Funding for long-term stability necesary

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By KATE GALO

Not-for-profits in Oak Park and River Forest more used to looking as far ahead as the next payroll or fundraising for next year's budget, have been given a notable incentive to take a longer view.

The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation has put $250,000 on the table as matching grants for as many as 10 local agencies which are prepared to create or grow an endowment fund. The new program, called "Making a Good Gift Better," was announced last week by Executive Director Carolyn Saxton at a foundation-sponsored workshop.

Saxton strongly recommends that agencies create endowments to add financial stability in good times and bad. "We feel an endowment gives organizations a fallback position. When things are tough, the income from that endowment will help to support them. When things aren't so tough, the income will help them to develop new programs." Saxton said an endowment allows an organization to spend only the income generated by the principal amount. "The point is that the endowment will be there for that agency to be able to use the income for years and years. People want to support that organization not just today, but forever. An endowment helps them do that," she said.

The Community Foundation will provide dollar-for-dollar matching for funds that are deposited with them, and will manage those funds as an endowment for an organization. The foundation's expertise will assure that the endowments will be appropriately structured. Saxton outlined how the organizations would work closely with the Community Foundation to set up a purpose for the endowment's income, a purpose that will be closely stipulated by the organization itself.

In announcing the new program, Saxton said, "Creating and building an endowment allows agencies to attract planned gifts and provides a constant and predictable revenue stream. We are very excited to be able to offer these matching funds to double the return on the investments made in our community."

While there were more than 30 representatives from area nonprofit agencies present for the announcement, nearly 100 will be contacted about it overall. The foundation has opened a competitive request for proposals and Saxton is hoping for a wide array of applications from every non-for-profit organization. "Our goal is for these organizations to be successful. We feel that every organization should have an endowment, and every organization should have a plan on how to attain that, said Saxton."

Area nonprofit agencies should contact the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation at (708)848-1560 for application information. The application deadline is Oct. 10.

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