Community Foundation invests $45,000

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

The Sweet Home Community Foundation has decided to throw in its lot with the Oregon Community Foundation in hopes of reaping greater rewards from its investments.

Foundation officials announced last week that they are investing $45,000 with OCF, which has more than $800 million in assets.

SHCF Vice President Tim McQueary said that OCF offers smaller foundations, such as Sweet Home’s, “a very well-managed, secure way to invest their money.” He said the Sweet Home foundation’s total assets currently add up to about $52,000.

SHCF was established by the Sweet Home Economic Development Group to accept tax-deductible donations and distribute grants to worthy causes and organizations in the Sweet Home area.

SHEDG has distributed $102,250 since 2001 in grants and donations to the community, including $43,500 this year to the foundation, which handed out $15,000 in grants to 11 local organizations last March.

Sara Brandt, a charitable gift planner for OCF, said Sweet Home’s is the seventh smaller foundation to join OCF, following such communities as Cottage Grove, Florence, Monmouth, Mt. Angel and Independence.

Brandt said OCF’s return last year on its investments were the highest of any similar foundation in the nation.

“We made just under 11 percent over a 10-year period,” she said. “Because we have $800 million or more, we can set up a very diversified portfolio – more than smaller nonprofits that don’t have the economies of scale that we do.”

OCF manages over 1,300 different funds established by nonprofits, families or individuals, Brandt said, and it made close to $43 million in grants last year, including $2.5 million in scholarships for Oregon students.

The foundation is supported by a network of volunteers, she said, who review grant applications and make on-site visits.

“We feel it’s very important to have people statewide who know the communities and help us make good decisions in our grant-making,” she said.

McQueary said OCF will help the Sweet Home foundation by providing education about giving and creating trusts to potential donors in the community.

Brandt added that it’s important for donors to be able to “make a gift that makes sense from a financial and legal sense.”

“We’re here to help the Sweet Home foundation work in the community,” she said. “We’re here to be facilitators.”

McQueary said Sweet Home needs to get to the point where its foundation has an endowment large enough to provide an ongoing cash flow for community needs.

“The real worth of any foundation is to get a permanent endowment – something where you can work off earnings for the future,” he said. “You can sit there and just take in donations, and put them out in grants. But that’s all you’ll ever do. You won’t have anything of substance.”