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Giving is a family tradition

The Munro family– George, Betty, Dave and Ron – before Ralph came along in 1943. - Courtesy of Munro family
The Munro family– George, Betty, Dave and Ron – before Ralph came along in 1943.
— image credit: Courtesy of Munro family

Munro funds become part of BI Community Endowment.

George Munro wasn’t a wealthy man, but the Crystal Springs pioneer wasn’t a big spender, either, and when he died in 1999 at age 99 he left a modest legacy.

His three sons – Dave, Ron and former Secretary of State Ralph – used that money to form a private foundation.

They earmarked that money to continue the college scholarship fund for Bainbridge High School students that the brothers had set up years before in memory of the mother Betty, a teacher, and had long paid for out of their own pockets.

“When we started, it was just $100 or so,” Ralph Munro said, “and in recent years, it has been more like $1,000.

“That doesn’t sound like a lot of money, especially on Bainbridge, but over the years, it has provided that little spark for some kids to go to college.”

But the recent downturn in the investment markets and the costs of the required accounting and tax filings have made small foundations uneconomical, Munro said.

So rather than continuing to spend money on administration, the Munro brothers have turned their foundation over to the Bainbridge Island Community Endowment, which will continue to fund the George and Betty Munro Scholarships.

The Munro money – some $30,000 – will be “donor-advised,” said Endowment board president Stephen Davis, meaning that its principal and interest can be paid out to any qualified charity requested by the donor.

“It’s their money – we can’t take it back,” Munro said. “But this way, we believe the scholarships can go on forever, where in our hands, we would run out of money in 35 or 40 years.”

The Endowment, founded in 2001, has several components, Davis said, including donor-advised gifts like the Munro foundation money, and unrestricted gifts, which will be used to support Bainbridge Island charities.

The Endowment works hand in hand with the Bainbridge Foundation – 20 percent of the board members of each organizations will be the same – but the operations of the two groups differ.

The Foundation, which administers the “One Call For All” drive, distributes all its receipts each year.

The Endowment, on the other hand, will distribute only a small portion of its assets, and will invest the rest, hoping to grow in size both from new gifts and investment income and become a perpetual source of charitable funding.

The Foundation once had a small trust fund of money intended to be invested and held, but that was recently folded and the money paid to the Endowment.

“The Endowment and Foundation are not competitors in any way,” Munro said.

Munro said he is publicizing the gift to call attention to the Endowment.

“I think there are a lot of other old families out there that may have put some money aside, or have sold their land and suddenly have a lot of money,” he said, “and this is a way they can help their community.”

Community Events, April 2014

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