Now you can be bullish on Bainbridge

You don’t have to die to leave your community a better place.

In fact, that’s now just one of a half-dozen options you have to invest in the island’s future, under a new tax-exempt charity called the Bainbridge Island Community Endowment. As Ed Kushner describes it:

“It’s one of the basic building blocks of the community. We’re just redesigning it, so it’ll work better for everyone.”

Ed’s comments came over coffee at a local bakery this past week, where we met with him and partners-in-good-deeds Joan Holcomb and Stephen Davis. Therein they unveiled the endowment fund, a new and thoughtful way to support island non-profit agencies working in the fields of social, health, art and human services.

The Bainbridge Island Community Endowment succeeds a venerable trust, never much-publicized or developed, long under the auspices of the Bainbridge Foundation. That trust is being phased out, replaced by an endowment to be managed by a 15-member board.

Two years in the making, the program is modeled on similar, highly successful endowments in Seattle and Tacoma. The plan is straightforward: Islanders give money to the endowment, the funds of which will be professionally managed, with grants then distributed to local non-profits.

Want to give? Bequests are just one option. Others include the life-income gift (donors commit cash to a future philanthropic cause, while assuring continued income from those assets through a trust), a donor-advised fund (you decide precisely who gets the money; the endowment manages it), field-of-interest funds (direct your money toward more general causes, like environmental efforts or youth programs), and the more commonplace memorials and scholarship funds.

And there’s always the outright gift – contribute money today, and the endowment will invest it and put it to work.

Donations of all sorts are welcomed – cash, real property, stocks (but no WorldCom, please – we’re trying to grow the fund, not shrink it). The endowment has seed money of $191,000; Davis tells us he envisions a day when it boasts assets of $5-10 million. “Then you could really disburse some meaningful amounts,” he says.

The BICE board will use a deliberative and competitive process to make sure grants go to worthy causes, be they schools, theater companies, Helpline or whatever.

The endowment board is counting on local financial managers and attorneys practicing family law to make their clients aware of the program. The endowment can be reached through the Marge Williams Office Center on Winslow Way, or by calling 842-0433. More information can be found at www.bainbridgeendowment.org.

We wrote in this space some time ago about the value of bequests for charitable giving; our comment then was, “Some people will leave the world a better place just by not being in it anymore, but here’s a chance to hedge your bets.”

With the full range of opportunities presented by the Bainbridge Island Community Endowment – giving while you’re living, as it were – we’ll suggest a new motto:

Bullish on Bainbridge.

Now let’s build a solid community portfolio.

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