By Sandra Zunino
Mid Shore Community Foundation, located in the historic Bullitt House in downtown Easton, can be described as the gift that keeps on giving. Established in 1992, the MSCF’s purpose is to facilitate philanthropy by distributing charitable grants to non-profit organizations and charitable causes in order to benefit the citizens of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties.
A 501(c)(3) public charity, MSCF accomplishes its goals by pooling donations. Contributions to the foundation are wisely invested to receive the maximum return on the principle sum. From these funds, charitable investments in the form of grants are made in order to support projects that respond to the needs of the community and the philanthropic objectives of the donor. In addition, donors receive the maximum tax benefits allowed by law for their charitable contributions.
MSCF was established through the far-sighted wisdom of five founding members, T. Hughlett Henry, Charles E. Wheeler, Charles T. Capute, W. Moorhead Vermilye, and Lloyd L. Beatty, when about $236,000 in assets were left to the United Fund of Talbot County through the wills of Col. Edgar Linthicum and his wife Catherine. This donation was to be used “”for the benefit, aid and assistance of the most worthy cases–in Talbot County, either charitable institutions or needy and deserving residence.””
Both the United Fund and the Community Foundation compliment each other. “One way to think of it, is the United Fund acts like a checking account for the county,” explains Barbara L. Lane, Director Donor Relations, “MSCF works like a savings account.”
“That $230,000 is still there being distributed,” she adds. “Rather than just give that money away once, it is still there to this day giving back to the community and will in a hundred years from now.”
Now there are more than 103 charitable funds within the foundation established according to donors’ wishes to serve a particular purpose in the region with a total value exceeding $24.5 million.
The idea for the first community foundation emerged in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio. Today there are more than 650 community foundations serving urban and rural communities throughout the United States, collectively holding approximately $31 billion in combined assets and making local grants of approximately $2.6 billion annually.
Most community foundations are defined by a geographic area. In this way, the money stays in and benefits the donor’s community. “We have granted $5.6 million with the help of our component fund,” says Barbara. “Most of that – about 90 to 95 percent – stayed within the five mid-shore counties.”
Investing and distributing donations wisely is an awesome responsibility, Barbara acknowledges. Before granting funds, the foundation ensures the recipients are legitimate 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. “We have to be diligent,” she emphasizes.
An all-volunteer board of directors that is representative of the five county communities governs MSCF. Additionally it relies on professional and financial advisors who review reports quarterly.
Furthermore, the MSCF acts as an educator, inviting non-profit organization to come and learn how to apply for grant money through workshops and seminars, and how to write better grant proposals.
For more information about Mid Shore Community Foundation call 410-820-8175 or e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.