GREENSBORO, N.C. — As a member of the grantmaking committee of the Future Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Dan Koenig, a lawyer at Connors Morgan Sinozich, learned a lot and made valuable contacts that have benefited his work as a member of the board of directors of Seven Homes, a local nonprofit that places children in foster homes and received a $1,000 grant from the Future Fund in 2009.
John Lomax, president and founder of Lomax Construction and Lomax Properties, after joining the Future Fund when it was launched in 2000, created his own donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation.
And Richard Montana, a senior associate at commercial-real-estate company CB Richard Ellis and current chair of the Future Fund, says he and others have used the Fund as a model in creating a nonprofit to run an annual fishing event that this year raised $70,000 for The N.C. Children’s Promise, a group that raises money for North Carolina Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill.
“You learn how the philanthropy process works,” Montana says of the Future Fund.
That was the vision of community leader Ann Lineweaver, who in 1999, as chair of the Community Foundation’s board, suggested the idea of the Future Fund as a way to engage young leaders and help them learn about philanthropy.
Lineweaver, in turn, recruited Louise and Jim Brady, a young professional couple, to chair the Future Fund.
They recruited 264 people to join the Fund its first year, each giving $125.
The Fund set a goal of creating a $1 million endowment within 10 years.
Recruiting roughly 300 members a year, the Fund has raised nearly $900,000 for its endowment, and expects to reach its goal this year, says Corey Pitz, philanthropic services officer at the Community Foundation.
The Fund each year has enlisted a community partner to pledge up to $50,000 in funds to match member contributions – the equivalent of the annual income a $1 million endowment would generate.
The Fund uses the matching funds to make annual grants to local charities serving a priority need it selects each year, and keeps the member contributions and interest income to help grow the endowment.
This year, for example, the Fund is accepting applications for grants to support educational programs for children and youth, with applications due Aug. 31.
And the Greensboro Grasshoppers baseball team has agreed to be this year’s challenge sponsor.
The Fund so far has distributed a total of $340,000 in grants, with members each year picking a priority need in the community to support, and a grantmaking committee reviewing grant requests and making recommendations on grants to the Fund’s steering committee.
Other committees organize three to four events each year, including a night at NewBridge Bank Park, scheduled for July 26, as well as membership and marketing, including promoting the Fund in the community, recruiting new members, and keeping members informed through monthly email updates.
“Members can participate as little or as much as they want,” says Pitz. “They get to learn what it is to be a philanthropist.”
To complete the endowment campaign, she says, the Fund will invite donors to give $1,250 to become lifetime members in addition to continuing to recruit new annual members, and also will ask for larger annual donations.
And in for its annual party in November, the Fund will host a fundraising dinner and auction.
“Members don’t have to be a Carnegie or a Mellon to be a philanthropist,” Pitz says. “They can invest their $125 and learn what the grantmaking process is like, learn about their community, and meet other like-minded people who also care about the community.”