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High Point fund growing

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By Todd Cohen

HIGH POINT, N.C. — Family Service of High Point Foundation, which helps fund services and programs in High Point offered by Family Service of the Piedmont, has moved its $1.2 million endowment to the High Point Community Foundation.

The move reflects steady growth at the community foundation, which will administer the endowment and help Family Service in its effort to find new endowment donors.

“What Family Service does well is provide services for its clients,” says Paul Lessard, the foundation’s executive director. “What we do well is marketing philanthropy.”

Despite the struggling economy, the foundation is ahead of schedule in its fundraising and has raised its long-term goals.

With the Family Service endowment, assets the foundation manages will total more than $11 million.

Formed in 1990, the foundation has generated another $10 million in pledges plus $4 million more in deferred gifts it expects to receive in the future.

Those assets, pledges and deferred gifts exceed a goal the foundation set in 1998 of raising $20 million by June 2003.

So the foundation now has set a goal of increasing its assets to $100 million in the next 15 years, although Lessard hopes to meet that goal in 10 years.

In its fiscal year ended June 30, the foundation generated $2.6 million in new gifts, and secured deferred gifts of $1 million each from textile executive Paul Brayton and from retired furniture executive David Hayworth.

Annual grants grew to $175,000 in the fiscal year just ended, and last year from $100,000 five years ago.

“Our game plan is to get these assets growing so we can give more money away,” says Lessard, adding that the foundation’s goal is to give away $1 million a year within 10 years.

Overall, the foundation has made $750,000 in unrestricted grants, plus nearly $4 million more in grants from donor-advised funds.

Lessard joined the foundation five years ago as its first full-time executive director after philanthropist Jim Millis pledged $5 million.

Until that time, the foundation had almost no assets and mainly served as a vehicle for donors to make $200,000 a year in “pass-through” gifts.

While its strategy has focused on encouraging wealthy donors to create funds that are managed by Wachovia, the foundation has launched a “preferred partners” program to let donors giving at least $250,000 work with other financial institutions to manage their funds.

Bank of America, for example, will continue to management the new endowment fund for the Family Service of High Point Foundation.

Nonprofit endowments represent a new focus of the community foundation, which now will be handling endowments for eight nonprofits.

Financial and fundraising policy and strategy are overseen by an investment committee chaired by entrepreneur A.B. Henley and a development committee chaired by Judy Mendenhall, former High Point mayor and now head of the High Point International Furniture Market Authority.

Jim Morgan, a lawyer with the firm of Morgan Herring, chairs the foundation’s 40-member board.

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