Profiles of Generosity
Donor Services Help Maximize, Customize Gifts
By Matt Kilian, Director of Communications
Hundreds of families, corporations and individuals throughout central Minnesota have trusted the Initiative Foundation's donor services to help them make a difference in their communities. This summer, the foundation was the beneficiary of two major gifts from people with very different goals in mind but who saw the Initiative Foundation as the best way to achieve them. Both gifts had double the impact, due to The McKnight Foundation's matching contributions to the Initiative Foundation endowment.
Paving a Legacy
Support children and families. Preserve the environment. Strengthen the regional economy.
Jim and Linnea Anderson found their family and business values mirrored in the mission and programs of the Initiative Foundation, so they thought it made perfect sense to forge a lifelong partnership. Working with Curt Hanson and Mark Lease in the foundation's donor services area, the Anderson family and Anderson Brothers Construction created the Anderson Brothers Family Fund with an initial $100,000 investment to support central Minnesota communities.
Anderson Brothers Construction, serving the broad Brainerd Lakes area from Little Falls to Park Rapids, has been the premier builder of asphalt roads, driveways, parking lots and tennis courts since the World War II era. Jim Anderson says the newly formed donor-advised fund will unite his company's legacy of community service with his family's tradition of generosity, as he and Linnea engage their children and grandchildren in giving back.
"Linnea and I want our family to get a better understanding of philanthropy and the company's giving," Jim says. "We look forward to listening to their concerns and knowledge about issues as we decide what to support."
Jim, Linnea and their children, Eric and Kristine, will ask the Initiative Foundation to help them solicit grant applications once each year. They will review the projects as a family, hear presentations and visit nonprofit organizations as part of their decision-making process.
"We hope this will increase our family's awareness of community issues and the company's role in addressing them," Jim says.
That's the beauty of a donor-advised fund, according to Curt Hanson, the foundation's vice president for donor services. Companies and families can employ the Initiative Foundation to manage their funds and recommend charitable investments. The donors' generosity earns considerable tax benefits, and most importantly, the donors experience increased involvement in community service for generations.
"The Initiative Foundation is a well-run organization with professional people, and their programs hit several areas of concern for us," Jim adds. "I'd encourage anyone to learn about their programs and services that are available."
Gloria Cessna: always energized, always jovial, always generous.
"When the Initiative Foundation crossed my path in the 1980s, there was no question in my mind that they were meeting needs," Gloria says. "I give to the Initiative Foundation because I like the idea of supporting small businesses. It goes back to my father, who had a small business of his own. I love the idea of my money going to support a young, single mom with a beauty shop who wants to add a second chair so she could hire someone, or helping a mechanic buy a tool he needs for his business."
With an unlimited passion for the Initiative Foundation and a limited bank account, Gloria discovered a means of making a meaningful, tax-deductible contribution while receiving checks in the mail four times each year. The vehicle is called a charitable gift annuity, and yes, it's perfectly legal.
Rather than allowing their life savings to sit in relatively low-interest savings accounts, CDs or bond funds, senior donors like Gloria can often earn a much higher interest rate and quarterly lifetime dividend checks by making a permanent gift to the Initiative Foundation in the form of a charitable gift annuity. When the donor passes away, the remainder of the initial donation helps strengthen central Minnesota communities as part of the foundation's endowment.
"With annuities, everyone wins. You, as a donor, win. The foundation wins. The people who need help win. It's the best combination I can imagine," Gloria says. "And it's always such a pleasant surprise to receive those darling little dividend checks."
Although still a best-kept secret, annuities are the oldest life income gifts that have served thousands of charities and donors who wish to make a gift of at least $20,000 in cash or appreciated assets such as stock. They are also simple to create. Just ask Gloria.
"If I can do it, anyone can do it," she says. "I would tell other donors not to be anxious and to ask any questions they might have. Mark and Curt have all the answers."
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