Community Foundation: 155 funds, over $16 million to help forever

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  The Community Foundation of Switzerland County, Inc., plays a major role in the betterment of Switzerland County and its citizens.

  As a part of a celebration of community foundations nationwide, light is being shed on the work of the Community Foundation here and how the participation of citizens in the foundation benefits everyone.

  “This week is an acknowledgment of community foundations and the recognition of the National Philanthropy Day, which was this past Monday, November 15th,” Community Foundation of Switzerland County, Inc., executive director Tye Sullivan said. “The week of November 12th-18th each year is incorporated as Community Foundation Acknowledgment Week, with the 15th in the middle. Foundations throughout the country and throughout the state here are encouraged to put some facts out there so that people are more aware of community foundations.”

  Sullivan said that the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — this year Tuesday, November 20th — is “Giving Tuesday” around the country. It’s a time when many foundations work on specific projects to allow community members the opportunity to donate to or create new endowments within a foundation.

  Here, the Community Foundation is not specifically focused on ‘Giving Tuesday’ but Sullivan said that his board will be more focused on a holiday giving initiative, which should begin in December.

  “We’re throwing ideas on how we do that,” Sullivan said. “Our board has never really focused on a campaign or holiday giving or ‘Giving Tuesday’ here out of the office, so we don’t have a history of how do we do it or what worked or didn’t work in the past for us, so we’re still toying with the idea of doing something.”

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  A Community Foundation is not unique to here or to the state, with charitable foundations located across the country — but Indiana leads the way nationally in charitable giving and the charitable work of foundations.

  Indiana currently has a total of 1,200 foundations, which gave a over $2 billion to support a wide variety of social causes, including areas such as health, education, human services, and community development.

  Within that, Indiana has 94 Community Foundations — the most of any state in the country. Those foundations serve all 92 Indiana counties, and together have invested more than $193 million back into local communities.

  “The Lilly Foundation had the entire to have a community foundation in each of the 92 Indiana counties,” Sullivan said. “Each county is represented by a community foundation. There are 750 community foundations across the country. There are actually 94 in the state, because of some alliances where some community foundations are also collaborating together.”

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  As 2021 comes to a close, the Community Foundation of Switzerland County, Inc., is also looking ahead to 2022 — when the local foundation will celebrate its 25th anniversary of service to this community.

  “We will kick off in January our 25th anniversary initiatives with a year long acknowledgment of what the Community Foundation has done here in Switzerland County,” Sullivan said. “We’re going to have some unique events and different opportunities for different individuals to get involved with some granting of our funding. Different non-profits who serve Switzerland County.”

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  So what does Sullivan tell those who may not be aware of the opportunities to give to the Community Foundation of Switzerland County, Inc.?

  “The first thing we would do is to encourage people to come in and speak with us (Sullivan and Development Director Melissa Andrew) just so they can have a full understanding of the amount of different funds that are available and how unique each one is,” Sullivan said. “Each one is not specific to a certain area of the community, but there are certain funds that are tailored to certain things, whether it be youth or veterans or seniors or to the school through scholarship. I think it’s important for everyone to see the full picture — not just see that we grant money out. How do we do it? I think it’s good that everyone know the full process, with the funds working into perpetuity, knowing that this is long term — this isn’t something that’s just a quick pass through. Contributions are going to have a lasting impact in our community, because each of the endowed funds work in perpetuity.

  “I think it’s a good thing for people to understand that they aren’t just helping their friends and neighbors today, but they’re impacting friends and neighbors years down the road. That’s important for people to understand as well — we’re here for the long haul, not just here to meet the needs of the community right now. We’re thinking long term,” Sullivan continued.

  And being a part of the Community Foundation is not just for the wealthy — everyone can play a part — large or small — in the growth of the foundation and its causes.

  “That’s one of the most interesting things,” Sullivan said. “On average, a contribution is anywhere from $20 to $50. It’s not thousands and thousands of dollars, and I think that’s probably a misconception about what it takes to donate to a community foundation. A lot of people see the amount of assets that we have here — in excess of $16 million — and people associate that with high dollar giving, and that’s not necessarily the case, especially in our community, where we see $20 to $40 gifts as absolutely the most common. A lot of those small gifts add up to where we are today. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve seen large contributions from Lilly and from generous organizations, businesses, and individuals in our community — but the backbone has been built off of those $20, $40, $50 contributions. Contributions that come in our day every single day.”

  Currently there are 155 funds in the Community Foundation.

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  Want to know more about the Community Foundation of Switzerland County, Inc.?

  Contact Sullivan or Andrew at the office, (812) 427-9160, or visit the office on Ferry Street on the second floor above First Financial Bank near the main intersection of Vevay.