The Community Foundation for Ocala Marion County announced it collected more than $1.2 million during 2013 from high-end donors to distribute to area charities.
The organization, which was charted in 2012, accepts donations to fund a variety of charities and organizations, such as the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, and invests and administers charitable investments for such organizations as ARC Marion Foundation.
The organization does much of the research legwork for donors who know how they want their donations spent, but do not necessarily have the time or knowhow to vet charities, said Founding Chairman Frank Hennessey.
“What we do is help donors discharge their philanthropic desires,” Hennessey said.
In many cases, the Community Foundation invests donated money on behalf of donors, with the earnings going toward charities that fit the individual donors’ goals. Those goals include helping local, start-up companies to get bank loans and helping female entrepreneurs network and meet others who can help them grow their businesses.
Hennessey said much of the work the Community Foundation does resembles that of typical family foundations. But the advantage is that the Community Foundation does the investment and administrative work.
“It’s an incredible vehicle for enhancing philanthropic giving in areas you have an interest in helping,” Hennessey said. “We make your dreams come true.”
The organization has only one employee, executive director Barbara Fitos, whose salary is paid by a donor.
That means almost all of the donated money goes to where donors want, with almost no overhead, Hennessey said.
Donations typically range from $5,000 to as much as $100,000, he said. He said the foundation’s early success suggests many donors want this kind of a vehicle.
The donations included $1.05 million in Donor Advised Funds (with a minimum $5,000 donation that is earmarked for specific charity types,) $90,000 in endowment funds, $90,000 in designated agency funds, $25,000 in nonspecific agency funds, and another $15,000 in grants to the Community Foundation.
During this year, Community Foundation also received $210,000 from the former ARC Marion Foundation to invest, with proceeds helping developmentally challenged residents.
The Community Foundation is also poised to receive about $8 million in estate money when donors die, leaving money and property to help designated causes.
Unlike other area charities’ campaign drives, the Community Foundation focuses mostly on accepting donations and either spending the money on target charities or investing the money for future use. In some cases the foundation invests money in such a way that donors have quick access if they themselves find a charity they want to help immediately.
One of the organization’s newest endeavors is to help start-up companies. The Community Foundation is meeting with bank lenders and will guarantee companies’ loans.
Hennessey said the foundation carefully reviews the start-up’s business plan. The loan guarantee money will come from donors who specifically want to help new businesses. He estimates that the first loan guarantee will be made within 30 days.
Community Foundation also created its Women’s Entrepreneur Initiative, which allows female entrepreneurs to meet and talk through a series of foundation-sponsored events with featured local businesswomen.
The Community Foundation also created a program by which foundation members meet with middle school students and teach them about philanthropy work and how to identify worthy charities. The students than make presentations about selected charities, and each charity is awarded $500 based on the students’ work.
“This is a program that’s taking off like crazy,” Hennessey said. “Think of how many kids have been touched. And it isn’t as much the money as the educational process … for the (students).”
In an effort to grow the foundation’s portfolio to a minimum of $10 million, the foundation has hired Beth McCall to help with development services.
McCall was the executive director of the former Munroe Foundation, which raised money for Munroe Regional Medical Center.