I had the opportunity to interview Nick Kulik, the Chief Donor Engagement Officer at The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation. From our short conversation, I learned a lot about tools and strategies to use as a financial advisor. Nick also shared plenty of knowledge that will be useful to any charitably minded reader!
My own thoughts and takeaways from the conversation are noted in green.
1. How would you describe your role at The Community Foundation?
My team and I work with donors to support their philanthropic passions and goals. We do this in two ways.
First, we work with donors to create the funds that best match their passion areas. We have two fund types for donors to choose from: the community’s endowment (unrestricted and field-of-interest funds) and donor designated (our agency, designated, scholarship and donor advised funds).
Then, we work with donors to grant out funds from donor designated funds. This includes ensuring scholarships are awarded to students, non-profit agencies, etc. Our programming team works with local non-profits and community-wide coalitions to award grants from our unrestricted and field of interest funds.
I’ll be honest – it took me a while to fully understand what it is that Nick and The Foundation do! Essentially, if you want to make charitable gifts but aren’t quite sure the best way to do it, you can talk to Nick. He will present you with the best options of how you can make the impact and leave the legacy you want!
2. How would you describe The Foundation’s impact in our Findlay community?
The role of a community foundation is to meet the current and future needs of a community. Our foundation works on improving the quality of life in Hancock County by partnering with our donors to engage in collaborative leadership and responsible grant making.
Since our inception, we have given out $59 million in grants. Last year, we awarded 584 grants totaling $3.8 million.
When thinking about impact, we do this in a variety of ways. We:
– Give out approximately 200 scholarships annually
– Operate The Family Center
– Offer non-profit capacity building and coaching
– Collaborate with other non-profits by looking at the root causes of community-wide issues in areas like housing, poverty, mental health, substance abuse, etc. and find a way to make a big impact in those areas
Recently, with COVID, we have been working to help support local non-profits. Basic Needs Organizations (food pantries, utility assistance, emergency assistance, etc.) reported that 80% of their clients have NEVER asked for help before. I mean, wow… can you believe that?? Again, 80% of Findlay people who requested assistance during COVID haven’t needed help before… that is A LOT of new need. Thank goodness Findlay has so many great organizations available to help.
I didn’t realize this, but so many of the non-profits in Findlay wouldn’t exist without The Community Foundation. The Foundation has provided loads of free training and resources to get these essential organizations on their feet and serving the community.
3. What specific tools and resources does The Community Foundation provide for those who want to maximize the effectiveness of their charitable gifts?
Unrestricted funds allow us to be nimbler in times of crisis like COVID or when new problems arise like the opioid epidemic. Donor-designated funds support the interest of the donors.
Donors can support a particular type of student through a scholarship, a particular non-profit or program through agency and designated funds, or we can provide the ultimate level of flexibility with a donor-advised fund (DAF). DAFs allow donors to make grant recommendations from their fund to support a variety of non-profits from a local food bank to their alma mater.
We also do a lot of work with our donor’s advisors to help meet a donor’s financial needs. We partner with local wealth managers, attorneys, accountants, and other professionals to create a plan that best supports the donor’s philanthropic and financial goals.
A financial advisor often must be a jack of all trades. There is just so much to know in this industry! Thankfully, there are organizations like The Community Foundation that will sit down with you and your financial advisor as a team to find the best charitable giving solution for you. I am a personal fan of the unrestricted funds and donor-advised funds.
4. What is a piece of advice you have for people who view themselves as “small,” everyday givers? How can they enhance their gift’s positive impact on the community?
Consider making a gift to an endowed fund. For example, last year, we made a big push to raise money for mental health services and programs. The money is managed at The Community Foundation. We will invest it forever to create a return for the community. Someone’s $100 gift to that fund will continue to grow year after year while also helping create an annual grant to support mental health services. So, your $100 will be worth much more than $100 and will have long lasting impact! What a great way to make your giving dollar stretch farther!
5. 2020 has obviously been a hard year for many people. In your position, I am sure you have witnessed great areas of need. How can community members best partner with The Foundation to bring our community into a healthier and wealthier 2021?
To go back to the last example, gifts to unrestricted funds allow us to continue to fund local non-profits and programs that are needed during the pandemic. Whether it’s the pandemic, another flood, or some other community-wide disaster, The Foundation can easily pivot to help support recovery efforts.
For those with more means, we can work on creating a long-lasting legacy here in the community. For example, donors are working with us and their advisors on bundling for tax benefits or reshaping estate planning due to the SECURE Act.
Again, our goal is to help donors create a philanthropic plan that meets their lifetime and estate giving goals!
I hope you learned something new about an amazing Findlay organization! Be sure to visit their website for more information. I have already shared how 2020 is an especially useful year to make charitable gifts, so it’s a great time to start thinking about giving. The pandemic’s impact on our community is clear, and every gift and kind act of service will make a difference!