Q. Why does Three Lakes need a community foundation?
A. First, the new Foundation gives people a place to go with donations to build an endowment for the Three Lakes community, or to support a specific project fund. The 3Lakes Community Foundation can help to provide impact enhancements beyond what the Town or County governments can handle. It provides an avenue for major gifts, such as those created in estate planning or memorials…think legacy gifts.
Those of us who have an attachment to Three Lakes will want to consider how we can help to carry on the spirit, the joys, and the “specialness” of the community. Of course we will want to be assured that there is an independent Board committed to doing things both right and well. By its very nature, a community foundation is fiduciary, custodial, forward thinking, and lasting. A community foundation can make decisions which adapt to the changing circumstances and needs over time, an aspect which we would want. Second, we know that cities, villages and towns which have created community foundations are seen as more interesting or more progressive because of what their foundations have provided over time. They make a difference, with one generation “setting the table” for the next.
Q. Is this a United Way type of organization?
A. Not at all. United Way organizations generally provide operating funds to community social support organizations, a worthy purpose. The direction of the 3Lakes Community Foundation is different. We look to provide grants for impact projects which will advance the attractiveness of Three Lakes as a place to live, work and play.
It is possible that someday the Foundation would help advance a project which would have a social support aspect, or one with an economic basis, as examples.
In time it is fair to anticipate that one or more community organizations will come forward with grant requests for projects which they would manage and sustain. Likewise, the Board may invite a grant proposal based on its research for what looks good to do.
Q. Three Lakes has residents, non-residents, and vacationers. Who is this for?
A. All. Everyone! This is a unifying initiative in the community. UNIFYING is one of our four core values. We look for all Three Lakes stakeholders to embrace this initiative with support and ideas.
After all, it is a fairer view of the unique reality of Three Lakes to consider a total population measurement of our demographics. For example, during the summer months our “population” swells to 12,000 to 15,000. Even in the winter months, while “residency” remains at about 3,000, the “population” number is higher. It is our total population which uses Three Lakes. It is our total population of stakeholders which gains its experiences here. It is us. We!
Q. What have you done so far?
A. The first work was research. What is Three Lakes today? Where were we 10 years ago? What is projected? (See Research tab). Then we met with the leaders of nearly all of the community organizations and clubs to get their insights and to learn of their challenges. We then held six public invite community conversation sessions. Nearly 100 people, as diverse as one could imagine, took part.
Any community foundation must have broad research as its fundamental start, and then keep the research updated, fresh. It starts with knowing the community below the surface, and what is trending. Then you look for the SWOTs, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This builds a basis for future decisions. We met this objective.
Then we made our first baby-step grant. Read about it in the NEWS tab.
Q. I like Three Lakes the way it is. Why would I want change in anything?
A. Many folks share this feeling. Three Lakes is a wonderful place today. Some folks who were here 50 years ago thought it was a great place then, and no changes were warranted. Yet changes have been made, little by little…still keeping our natural resources protected, keeping the small town culture, etc. Yet changes have come along. Most would not be pleased if Three Lakes remained today as it was 50 years ago. Think about it. (Well, maybe except for the loss of the Chalet Hotel’s bar and restaurant. And maybe for the lesser amount of pan fish out there).
Also, how we go about keeping up and adding to what is relevant for the day is somewhat different than 50 years ago. Our United States government has provided communities a wonderful new way to direct ourselves for creating desirable extra touches. We now have new opportunities through community foundations, just like the Foundation we have created here for Three Lakes. Donations are tax exempt. We get to invest in what makes sense here.
Q. How much money are you hoping to raise?
A. The Board has set a 20-year goal of $12 Million. This would be the combined amount of the Endowment Fund and the Current Fund, and it would include the value of grants made from the Current Fund during the 20 years (to 2037). Our goal for 2017 is to raise $100,000.
We also have a donor goal of 300, which would include a donation from a couple counted as two. Each would be recognized as a donor.
Q. So, which fund do you want me to give to?
A. The nice thing about how we are set up is that you have choices. You can put your donation into the Current Fund, the Endowment Fund, or split your donation.
THE CURRENT FUND is a working fund. All grants will be made from the Current Fund. It is also used for expenses related to research, communications and professional services.
Unless a donation is specified for the Endowment Fund, your donation will go to the Current Fund.
The Board has the authority to transfer money from the Current Fund to the Endowment Fund; however that will be unlikely until the Current Fund would become very large.
THE ENDOWMENT FUND is a support fund, established for long term support. Donations to the Endowment Fund remain in perpetuity. Up to 5% of the Endowment fund balance may be transferred annually to the Current Fund. This is done by a vote of the Board. The 5% limit is determined by IRS rule, and it is related to a presumption that the investment rate of return over time will average 5%.
Therefore, as donations build up in the Endowment Fund over time, the more money becomes available when the 5% is applied to it. For example, $10 Million in the Endowment fund would provide for a $500,000 transfer to the Current Fund every year.
Cities and smaller communities that started volunteer community foundations years ago are now reaping the rewards. Three Lakes may be late to the party, however we now have a start, and we certainly have a great potential.
FOR VERY LARGE DONATIONS, the donor may want to consult with the Board Chair first about what would best meet your objectives.
Q. Are officers and directors paid?
A. All officers and directors are in voluntary service. They do not receive stipends, lodging, meals, mileage…nothing. Each director considers their volunteer service an honor.
Q. What if a group of us has an idea for a project for Three Lakes, and we need to raise money to get it done, how would the Foundation potentially be of help?
A. The Foundation is in a position to establish Project Funds, or dedicated accounts. When a project would be completed, the project fund would be closed. Project Funds need to meet criteria, and must be approved by the board.
If money is available, criteria are met, and IRS rules are met, it is possible that the Foundation could support a Project Fund directly. See the tab on Grants to get a better idea of how the Board would make a decision.