Philanthropists Are In It for the Long Run

L-R) Randi Hewit (president), Mike Burns (chair, investment committee), John Sirianni (finance officer), and Katie McConville (program assistant) after the 2016 GlassFest 8K presented by the Community Foundation.

L-R) Randi Hewit (president), Mike Burns (chair, investment committee), John Sirianni (finance officer), and Katie McConville (program assistant) after the 2016 GlassFest 8K presented by the Community Foundation.

A common question I hear while out and about is “where does the Community Foundation get the money it uses to make grants?”

People tend to be surprised to learn that it isn’t from the government or an annual campaign. The answer boils down to one word: endowment.

When a donor creates a fund at the Community Foundation (usually through a bequest from their estate after they pass away), we have two important jobs to do. One is to make sure every grant (or scholarship) made from the fund matches the donor’s wishes exactly. The other is to invest the money carefully to make sure it earns enough through various instruments (stocks, bonds, commodities, and the like) to generate income while protecting the fund from too much investment volatility.

We take both jobs very seriously, and as a result we have the privilege of helping endowments work their “magic” in the community for generations. 

The Mandeville Fund for Chemung County is a great example of a permanently endowed fund. When David Mandeville left the Community Foundation $1,579,000 for this specific fund in the early 1990's, his estate stipulated that the grants should benefit the people of Chemung County. Since then, this fund has granted $1,184,000 AND grown to a balance of $1,660,000!

For over twenty years this fund has been making grants to programs benefiting Chemung County and still managing to grow. Hundreds of years from now, it will still be making grants and growing. 

Even more staggering to consider … it will eventually make grants many times larger than the original gift to the fund. Someday this single fund will grant over $1,000,000 PER YEAR.

When we explain that philanthropists are in it for the long run (and wear shirts saying the same thing during the GlassFest 8K), we aren’t kidding. Each day, we know it is our job to make sure these funds last forever. It doesn’t get any longer than that.