Today brings to a close Community Foundation Week, which also encompassed National Philanthropy Day on Friday. It is fitting the two are intertwined because our work as a community foundation is all about philanthropy. Philanthropy is what we do 52 weeks a year. The celebration of community founda­tions gives us a chance to share with the broader com­munity what you may not know about how we all be­ne­fit from philanthropy.

Philanthropy is a special concept. In the United States, no one is required to give to charity. Nowhere in the Constitution or the Internal Revenue Code does it require citizens to donate. Yet, Americans have an extraordinary tradition of charitable giving going back more than 200 years.

Philanthropy is so impor­tant in America because it is voluntary. Philanthropy is caring for people because it is the right thing to do, not because it is a requirement. And charitable giving benefits everyone, whether you’ve been the beneficiary of a charitable organization’s services, received a scholarship or live in a community where generosity improves your fellow citizens.

Over the past year, we have focused our work in two areas: Give 5 and the Home of Philanthropy. Both are important to carry out our mission.

Give 5 is a planned giving program encouraging people to leave 5 percent or more of their estate to an endowed fund in the community. As part of that effort, we offer existing funds to give to and the opportunity to create a fund to support personal giving interests.

We have worked with donors in our community to open new endowed funds to support various areas of focus. These funds give new opportunities for people to give today or through their estate and provide long-term support for important work in our community. From churches to nonprofit organizations to scholarships and recreation, all areas of community life need permanent support to continue its work.

In 2016, Feeding Ame­rica, Kentucky’s Heartland opened an endowment fund to plan for its future and give donors a way to support the work forever. When they received a significant planned gift through a donor’s estate this year, they knew it fit with the strategy for the endowment fund.

A legacy gift from a donor will continue to benefit a cause she cared about well beyond her lifetime.

Our second area of focus, the Home of Philanthropy provides just what the name implies – a home base, a place to center philanthropy in our region, to celebrate the generosity of people and the impact philanthropy makes in people.

We welcome you to stop by and see us at 200 Jim Owen Drive in Eliza­beth­town adjacent to the Hardin County Public Library. We know we can do more in our community together and we look forward to bringing people together around community issues and opportunities. Throughout the building are stories of philanthropy, ideas and inspiration for people as they consider “What Does Philanthropy Look Like?”

As we celebrated National Philanthropy Day, we give thanks for everyone who gives to make our community a better place.

As a community foundation, we are a tool. Your generosity is what fuels impact. Community foundations are stewards of the public trust and the public’s charitable contributions. We take seriously the trust given to us by our donors, nonprofit organizations, professional advisors and, ultimately, the community. Americans give hundreds of billions of dollars to charity every year, but it’s not the numbers that are so impressive. Rather, it is the impact we make that defines philanthropy and our charitable work.

It is the impact of our gifts that lead to extraordinary change – in education, health care, parks, youth development and human services. Name a community issue over the past century and a half: Philanthropy and the charitable sector have been involved.

Davette B. Swiney is president and CEO of Central Kentucky Community Foundation, serving Breckinridge, Grayson, Hardin, Hart, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson and Washington counties. She can be reached at dswiney@ckcf4people.org or 270-737-8393.

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