Kenmare Community Foundation
Community Foundation planned for the betterment of Kenmare's future
By Caroline Downs, published June 17, 2009 in The Kenmare News
Soon, anyone with an interest in the future of Kenmare will have the opportunity to contribute resources in any amount toward that future.
Plans to establish the Kenmare Community Foundation are underway, following a public meeting held Thursday with Kevin Dvorak, president and CEO of the North Dakota Community Foundation (NDCF), and Kara Geiger, NDCF Development Director West.
“We’re trying to build a permanent endowment for the future of Kenmare,” Dvorak said. “This will be a general charitable vehicle so people can give back to their community in a tax-wise way.”
The Kenmare Community Development Corporation began investigating options for creating a community foundation several months ago, and determined the most practical approach was to partner with the North Dakota Community Foundation. “We’re a statewide, non-profit group governed by a voluntary board,” Dvorak explained, adding that a group of bankers in the 1970s developed the foundation after they witnessed large sums of money given to benefit parties and projects outside of North Dakota. “They thought the best way to go was with a statewide community foundation, as a very general charitable structure.”
The NDCF, with offices in Bismarck and Grand Forks, oversees 450 individual funds and works with 40 communities across the state, providing administrative, tax and legal services so volunteers in those communities can focus on their two priorities: raising funds for their own foundations and giving grants to community projects.
While various other fund-raisers, including catered dinners, golf tournaments and casino nights, have been successful in several North Dakota communities, Dvorak maintained that one of the best ways to build an endowment is to speak personally with possible donors about the variety of ways they can give to Kenmare. He listed several options for giving, ranging from gifts, bequests and memorials to grain donations, mineral securities and charitable IRA rollovers.
“Every community has organizations that raise money,” he said. “If you feel you have more to give, this is a way to do that. The thing that appeals to most people is that their money is not going to fritter away in a few years. Their gifts create a permanent financial resource for the community.”
Dvorak emphasized that advisory board members in Kenmare would be guided in their work by his office, whether planning a fund-raising event or talking with individuals about contributing to the foundation. Confidentiality agreements are also signed by board members to protect the interests of donors.
The NDCF staff, including Dvorak and Geiger, will work with the Kenmare Community Foundation advisory board to raise the initial $25,000 needed for the endowment. At that point, the NDCF will contribute $5,000 of its own money to the Kenmare fund.
Dvorak described several ways other communities launched their foundations. The endowment in Ellendale started with a $100,000 gift from an individual, while a farmer in Pembina left $1 million to create the community foundation. An advisory board in Maddox used $25,000 remaining from the town’s centennial fund, while volunteers in Tioga raised the initial funds for their foundation by making personal calls to individual donors. In Drayton, a high school consumer math class that played the stock market over several years started their community’s endowment with $22,000 in earnings.
The NDCF continues its financial support to local endowments through the years. “Annually, we match dollar for dollar the first $10,000 raised in the community,” Dvorak said. When a community generates $25,000 for its foundation in any given year, the NDCF adds another $5,000.
NDCF invests the endowment funds for the communities, with an average return of 6.34 percent between 1990 and 2008. “Last year, our portfolio was down 21.7 percent,” Dvorak said, “but we’re very diversified and very disciplined. The average loss for the National Council on Foundations was -28 percent.”
Under the NDCF plan, the Kenmare Community Foundation advisory board would award grants totalling 4 percent of the annual income from the endowment to various projects in town, with the NDCF charging 1 percent of the principle balance as an annual management fee. “We accomplish our mission by helping others build their endowment funds,” Dvorak said.
All activities of the NDCF are released in an annual report. “We publish this every year and send it to every donor,” Dvorak said. “We’re very transparent. It’s all available on our website, too. We want people to know what’s going on all across the state.”
Discussion continued at the meeting with Bryan Quigley and Kari Bies, executive director for the Kenmare Community Development Corporation, volunteering to serve on the Kenmare Community Foundation advisory board and to talk with other interested persons about establishing the five-member board. “We need to get it going,” said Quigley, who helped organize the advisory board for the community foundation in Stanley. “And it’s good to have a board that’s contributing along with the people they’re soliciting.”
Dvorak reminded the audience that underlying all the details of creating the board, approaching possible donors, and coordinating efforts with the NDCF was the significant work that could be accomplished through a community foundation. “The endowment is a permanent resource,” he said. “The income is used to make grants. The money is not just for one project. The local board sits down and asks themselves, ‘How can we make Kenmare a better place this year with the funds we have available?’”
“That’s what I like about the foundation,” said Arlen Gartner, owner of Gartner’s Jack & Jill in Kenmare. “The money is there, and it stays there, and they’re giving back four percent of it every year.”
Dvorak agreed. “Within 20 years, you’re giving back to your community more than was put in,” he said.
He and Geiger are happy to share more information about the North Dakota Community Foundation, and can be contacted at 701-222-8349.
Persons with further questions about the Kenmare Community Foundation are welcome to contact Kari Bies at 701-848-6040.