Community Foundation receives largest donation to date: Support sought to match additional $500,000

Manistee County Community Foundation executive director Laura Heintzelman stands on Cornerstone Park in Manistee. The triangular parcel of property was donated by Ruth Seng, along with a 10-ton stone, to the Manistee County Community Foundation in memory of her husband Bill Seng, one of the Foundation’s charter members and former President of the Board. The nonprofit organization has announced it has boosted its unrestricted endowment by $1 million after matching a $500,000 challenge gift from an anonymous donor — the single largest gift in its history. The donor has offered to continue matching gifts up to an additional $500,000 through the end of the year. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

Manistee County Community Foundation executive director Laura Heintzelman stands on Cornerstone Park in Manistee. The triangular parcel of property was donated by Ruth Seng, along with a 10-ton stone, to the Manistee County Community Foundation in memory of her husband Bill Seng, one of the Foundation’s charter members and former President of the Board.
The nonprofit organization has announced it has boosted its unrestricted endowment by $1 million after matching a $500,000 challenge gift from an anonymous donor — the single largest gift in its history. The donor has offered to continue matching gifts up to an additional $500,000 through the end of the year. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

MANISTEE COUNTY — Over the past three decades, the Manistee County Community Foundation has awarded $1.5 million in grants that have benefited every corner of the community, from education to the arts, the environment to recreation, and human services to economic development.

Today, the nonprofit organization announced that it has boosted its unrestricted endowment by $1 million after matching a $500,000 challenge gift from an anonymous donor — the single largest gift in its history.

“We are deeply grateful to this anonymous donor whose generosity also encouraged others to help us reach this historic milestone, as well as the contributors who enabled us to meet the challenge,” said MCCF executive director Laura Heintzelman.

In response to this success, the donor has offered to continue matching gifts up to an additional $500,000 through the end of the year. If the additional match is secured, the endowment would generate approximately $80,000 annually in new unrestricted grant monies available to support area needs.

“We are thrilled that this generous donor has now doubled the match so we can serve Manistee County at a new level,” Heintzelman said. “The potential impact on our community is truly limitless if we can meet this challenge, and we urge all those who love Manistee County to support this important opportunity with a donation that will double in value. There has never been a better time to give to Manistee County Community Foundation.”

The donor wanted to help the MCCF grow its impact and ability to meet the ever-changing needs of the community by building its unrestricted endowment and offered a $500,000 challenge gift if the organization could raise an equal amount in cash and multi-year pledges up to three years by Dec. 31 of this year.

After the challenge was met with several months to spare, the donor offered an additional dollar-for-dollar match up to $500,000 under the same terms. If the full challenge and match amount of $2 million is raised, it would increase the foundation’s assets of $4 million by 50 percent and its unrestricted assets eightfold.

“A gift of this size and magnitude to a community foundation is something we don’t see every day, particularly in rural Michigan regions like Manistee County,” said Rob Collier, president and CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations. “This is a meaningful opportunity for the Manistee County community to help ensure its future and create a place where everyone can thrive.”

While the MCCF administers 90 funds, the majority of the foundation’s assets are designated for specific purposes as directed by the donors. The latest gift — to be used for unrestricted purposes — opens many more doors to serve community needs.

“To date, our unrestricted resources are very limited, and we’ve only been able to meet a fraction of our funding requests,” Heintzelman said. “With this new flexible source of funding, it can help to address not only emerging needs but gaps in funding and ones that can’t even be anticipated.

“We’re currently in the position of looking at funding requests that come in and trying to match them up to the purposes of (restricted) funds that are already established,” she added. “In many cases, that works out great, but in a lot of cases there are gaps in funding that we can’t currently meet.”

Heintzelman said while funding requests and the monetary amounts in those requests have been trending upward in the past several years, she expects and encourages many more applications to be turned in with the influx of unrestricted funds available.

“If anything, we’re underestimating the needs that are out there, because people may realize that there hasn’t been those funding resources available,” she said. “A big part of our effort now will involve outreach to area nonprofits, so that they’re aware of this new source of funding.

“We will look to them to apply, because that’s what leads to the impact of this.”

Of course the additional gift of up to $500,000 will be dependent on continued support from county residents.

“We need everyone who loves and supports Manistee County to join in and help us raise this match, and also help spread the word,” Heintzelman said of the end-of-the-year deadline. “This effort is going to take the entire community in order to be successful. We welcome gifts of all sizes, every gift will matter and make a difference. Every gift will be doubled.”

Those interested in supporting the match challenge can make a donation to the Limitless Fund, the name of the foundation’s unrestricted endowment. More information is available at manisteefoundation.org/limitless or by calling (231) 723-7269.

Contributions are tax deductible, and multi-year pledges up to three years are eligible as long as the intended commitment is made by Dec. 31.

The MCCF was established in 1987 by a group of local leaders who envisioned a bright future for Manistee County, Heintzelman explained.

“They knew that if they were to establish a permanent foundation that is designed by and for the people of Manistee County, it would go a long way in helping them get there,” she said. “Every year since, the foundation has been able to award grants that meet a vast variety of community needs.”

The MCCF also spearheaded the county’s first visioning effort, Envision Manistee County; plays a key role in the Explore the Shores program to make the county’s waters accessible to all people; and administers Launch Manistee, a cradle-to-career educational initiative aimed at ensuring the success of Manistee County students.

avatar

Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

Leave a Reply