$1.6M raised for Community Foundation of Henderson

In one of the biggest fundraising drives here in memory, donations and pledges topping $1.6 million to endow the Community Foundation of Henderson were announced Thursday evening.

Income and interest earned from those funds are intended to help support a host of non-profit organizations across Henderson for years to come — perhaps indefinitely.

Foundation advocate Chase Fulcher said this announcement isn’t the conclusion, but just the beginning.

Mike Lawrence/The Gleaner Chase Fulcher, left, and Walt Dear speak before the start of Thursday’s Community Foundation of Henderson reception at the Henderson Fine Arts Center.
“It’s the seed money,” Fulcher said. “It’s the snowball” that he and other foundation supporters say could grow into a landslide of funds that could benefit this community in the next change of generations.

Walt Dear, the former Gleaner owner who foresaw the concept of a community foundation a generation ago, agreed. “Keep on keeping on,” Dear said during Thursday’s event. “This is the beginning … And never quit.”

The Kentucky Philanthropy Initiative — headed by Henderson native Judith Clabes — calculates that over the next 50 years, a staggering $2.76 billion in wealth will transfer from one generation in Henderson County to another.

That vision inspired a group of young professionals in the Henderson Leadership Initiative a couple of years ago to carry out the establishment of the Community Foundation of Henderson.

The foundation, operating for now under the umbrella of the already-established Community Foundation of West Kentucky, is intended to serve as a non-profit vehicle and investment manager that can direct donors’ funds into their churches and favored charities.

“We were looking for a megaphone,” Julie Wischer, an HLI graduate and current president of the Community Foundation of Henderson, said. “A megaphone found us” in the form of Fulcher, who said Thursday that he believes the foundation can grow to $10 million in 10 years.

On the stage of the Henderson Fine Arts Center, Fulcher recognized some 40 donors of $25,000 to $100,000 and more — businessmen, farmers, professionals, public officials and others from Henderson County.

Fulcher, arguably the most successful agent in the Southern Farm Bureau Insurance organization, had been contemplating a means for charitable giving when he was inspired by two of the most influential community fundraisers of the past generation: Dear and Dr. John Logan.

“Walt Dear challenged me to raise $300,000,” Fulcher said, while Logan encouraged him to support the Colonels 2 College program that provides scholarships at Henderson Community College to Henderson County High School graduates who fulfill certain requirements.

Fulcher said he committed the past 90 days to convincing fellow professionals to fund the Community Foundation of Henderson to support such efforts — including inspiring Southern Farm Bureau CEO Joey Stroble of Jackson, Miss., to commit $25,000 toward the effort.

“That helped launch the Community Foundation of Henderson into the realm of reality,” Scott Davis, chairman and CEO of Ohio Valley Financial Group, said.

Fulcher said his goal has been not only to inspire donations from what began as a dozen individuals yet mushroomed in number beyond that, but to encourage a community of “ambassadors” — CPAs, tax attorneys, financial advisers and life insurance agents — to counsel their clients concerning both the community and tax benefits of charitable giving through a community foundation.

“Give to that community for stuff you believe in, in a good cause,” which he said includes helping generations of poor citizens to develop a work ethic and become givers themselves.

As for those who have prospered in Henderson, Fulcher turned to Scripture.

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” he said.

via The Gleaner