Opinion

Many steps toward grand endowment

The challenge: to build a “community portfolio.”

Month by month, in steps that may pass without much notice if you’re not paying attention, that challenge is being met through the Bainbridge Island Community Endowment. We thought it might be time to connect a few of those steps into a coherent path.

Back in July 2002, we reported in this space on the formation of the BICE as successor to a venerable community trust, under-publicized and under-developed, that had existed for years under the auspices of the Bainbridge Foundation. The seed money was around $191,000, to be invested and

managed by the folks at the giant Seattle Foundation. The goal was to develop a pot of money of sufficient size that the return would allow grants to the island’s non-profit organizations. Since that time, the

endowment’s growth has been incremental but pronounced.

In August 2003, we were able to report that the Ralph Munro clan put some $30,000 from the family’s memorial scholarship fund under the auspices of the BICE; the move ensures scholarships to Bainbridge High School students for years to come. The Galpert family did likewise, with a smaller educational fund established in memory of a young islander who succumbed to illness before his second birthday. Two grants for excellent class projects were made over the winter.

And this week, as reported on today’s front page, PAWS joins the ranks of individuals and organizations using BICE to grow money for good causes; into the endowment go funds from the Helen Bucey bequest to support local animal services. Board member Stephen Davis reports that also this week, an anonymous donor chipped in $50,000 to a designated fund; discussions are under way with several others.

Today, just two years since it was unveiled, the Bainbridge Island Community Endowment oversees monies in excess of $850,000, in both unrestricted and donor-advised funds. Davis and others serving on the 15-member board are looking

forward to the day – not too far off, by the looks of it – that

the returns from unrestricted monies start flowing back into community organizations in the form of grants.

“I see this fund being multi-millions,” Davis told us. “How long that will take, I don’t know.”

That depends on islanders (and the return of a favorable

market). Yet even for donor-advised funds, participation eases the burden of running one’s own charitable foundation while ensuring that funds will be professionally managed. Participants can also access services offered by the Seattle Foundation, learning how to be a nonprofit board member and getting grant-writing help for no charge.

“News” by its nature tends to be a series of discrete events whose commons threads may or may not be apparent. A

charitable contribution here, a selection of board members there, a small disbursement somewhere else.

Of late, the Bainbridge Island Community Endowment has been the thread running through many of those pieces. You’ll be reading of more, we are certain.

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