With an estimated $25 billion expected to pass from one generation to the next during the next 50 years in Douglas County, a leading charitable foundation is urging those with the money to consider leaving some behind for a growing list of community needs.
Douglas County Community Foundation is asking county residents to consider committing 5 percent of their net worth - through their estates, 401(k)s, IRAs and life insurance policies - to the foundation upon their death.
During the next 12 years, such giving would be expected to boost the foundation's accounts by $100 million, said Chip Blaser, the foundation's executive director, citing data from a study commissioned by the Kansas Association of Community Foundations and conducted by professors at Wichita State University.
Such money, Blaser said, would help the foundation give grants to assist social service agencies, arts programs, health-improvement efforts and other community-minded endeavors and projects for generations to come.
"This is certainly something that could be considered by almost everyone - giving 5 percent after your death," Blaser said. "You won't be using it, and you're giving back to the community where you've lived and prospered. That's the consideration we want people to have."
The foundation, founded in 2000 with a nearly $3 million gift from community benefactor Tensie Oldfather, today manages assets of $13 million. It is overseen by an 11-member board of directors.
Mike Davis, who has been a board member since the beginning and now serves as chairman, said the study's substantial projections showed that a relatively little bit of help from a lot of people could go a long way.
"Nobody has to be heroic," said Davis, a Kansas University law professor and of counsel for Stinson Morrison Hecker in Kansas City, Mo. "We can all just do a relatively small part and have an enormous impact."
The foundation contributes to a wide variety of community efforts, organizations and projects. Among those receiving grants this year:
¢ Endowments of 20 community organizations, including the Ballard Center, Health Care Access, Lawrence Children's Choir and Douglas County Senior Services.
¢ Specific projects and operational needs, such as $10,000 to repaint equipment at the Ryan Gray Playground for All Children at Hillcrest School; $1,952 for fire-safety equipment at O'Connell Youth Ranch; $1,016 for the Cultural Saturdays summer arts program at Centro Hispano Resource Center; and $4,500 for installing energy-efficient furnaces for low-income tenants through Accessible Residential Options; and $3,500 for a maternity delivery light at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.