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Starting your own foundation?

Jule Meyer -
Jule Meyer
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The tiny island of Kosrae punctures the surface of the Pacific, a dot in the ocean and on the timeline of Jule Meyer.

It was there, more than 20 years ago as a member of the Peace Corps, that Meyer discovered a passion for philanthropy amid the confusion of role-reversal; of 6,000 residents, she was one of the only white women on the island.

“I found out quickly what it was like to be ‘the other,’” Meyer said, adding that many people there referred to her as “whitey.”

“Most of them didn’t even think about it (the nickname) being derogatory. They just saw me as different.”

Now, with 26 years of fundraising and non-profit management experience behind her, Meyer has once again begun a new island endeavor, this time on Bainbridge.

Parkman Foundation Services, Meyer’s consulting business, opened its doors last year to aspiring philanthropists looking to create a foundation. The goal is to help those who want to give back find the best way to do so.

“Right now we’re seeing the biggest transfer of generational wealth in history,” she said. “The baby boomers have worked hard and saved hard and many now want to know how to help others. There are a lot of big hearts on the island, and they need help if they’re going to give wisely.”

Enter Meyer, who hopes to find her niche on Bainbridge.

Originally from Sherborn, Mass., Meyer studied theater at Grinnell College in Iowa, where she began her nonprofit work by helping organize the first annual World Food Day.

From there it was on to the Peace Corps and Kosrae, where her eyes were opened by a number of new experiences.

“People didn’t understand me there,” she said of island, which is part of Micronesia. “Their culture was different. I was an American woman who was independent and that was threatening to a lot of them. But it was a great experience. The Peace Corps is the toughest job you’ll ever love.”

Meyer wrote her first grant proposal in 1983 and since then has written hundreds more, raising millions of dollars from individual and institutional gifts.

She worked for foundations across the country before moving from Seattle to Bainbridge Island three years ago to be with her life partner, Rik Langendoen.

Her focus now is getting her new business off the ground.

One challenge Meyer faces is debunking myths about what foundations are, what they require and why they’re advantageous.

A private foundation is recognized by the IRS as a charity that pays 1 percent to 2 percent excise tax on its net investment income.

Most importantly, she said, all foundations must give grants totaling at least 5 percent of its assets to qualified organizations.

Benefits include prolonging and maximizing giving potential and tax advantages.

Meyer said it takes a minimum of $1 million to start a foundation, but many people falsely believe it costs much more than that.

“A lot of people are inclined to think twice about starting a foundation, and I hope they do,” she said. “Parkman Foundation Services is designed to help people formalize their philanthropic desires.”

Among other services, PFS helps donors clarify their visions and values, handle administrative procedures and communicate on behalf of its foundations.

An important component of the service are client web sites, run by her technology partner Foundation Source, which allow people to keep up with and better understand what’s happening with their foundation.

Meyer knows of several similar businesses in Seattle, but none on this side of the water, leaving her confident that her services will be in demand.

“Foundations are not just for people you’ve never met,” she said.

“There’s a very special opportunity here to get involved and give back and I want to use my experience to help people do that.”

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Get them to give

To contact Jule Meyer about foundations call 855-0764 or see www.parkmanfoundationservices.com.

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