Impact Fund campaign passes $200,000 mark

Members of the Hillsboro Community Foundation board want citizens to know the Impact Fund it launched in fall is a one-time campaign to raise $250,000 for a permanent endowment.

Board member say they?ve picked up signals that some people mistakenly believe the drive to raise funds for the Impact Fund will be an annual event.

It won?t be.

?This group won?t be going back to the community to make another gift,? said Mike Kleiber, HCF board president.

At the same time, Kleiber said the Impact Fund will always be open to additional, unsolicited gifts.

The larger the Impact Fund grows, the more investment interest it will generate that can be used as grants to help fund projects that will benefit the Hillsboro community?which is the underlying purpose of the HCF.

Board members also want citizens to know that the money contributed to the Impact Fund will never be used for projects.

Rather, the gifts will be invested prudently, and the interest those investment generate will be the funds issued to groups and organizations through an application process.

?We?ve stressed that and stressed that, but I guess we can?t say it enough,? said Jim Brennan, a member of the HCF board. ?This endowment will always be there.?

Jayson Hanschu, vice chair of the board, said the goal is to issue annual grants based on an interest return of 5 percent. With an endowment balance of $250,000, that means about $12,500 a year will be designated for local projects.

?We want to spend 5 percent each year in such a way, and invest in such a way, that we not only replace that 5 percent, but we also can add enough back in to account for inflation and the investment fees,? Hanschu said.

He said endowment investments should yield between 8 and 9 percent annually.

?If we earn more than that, it goes back into the fund?so it grows and we can earn even more interest to disburse as grants,? Hanschu added.

Because the Impact Fund is a three-year campaign, the first grants won?t be disbursed until 2008 as donors turn their pledges into actual cash gifts.

To date, about 75 donors have contributed to the find.

?I feel good about that total and the average contribution level,? Kleiber said. ?I think we?re anticipating having more (pledges) coming in.?

To date, all donors have been local residents. That?s been partly by design.

?We want to show that the local people are behind it,? said Brad Bartel, who is secretary-treasurer of the board. ?We aren?t waiting for money to come into the community to take care of us. We want people to know there?s a strong support group for it right here.?

But that doesn?t mean that gifts to the Impact Fund from former Hillsboro residents won?t be welcomed.

In fact, the HCF board will be making just such a pitch this Saturday at the Hillsboro High School All-School Reunion banquet.

Donors who give at prescribed levels, whether they live in Hillsboro or elsewhere, will be permanently recognized as Impact Fund Pioneers.

A donor who contributes $10,000 or more qualifies as a ?Gold Founder,? the giver of $5,000 to $9,999 is designated as a ?Silver Founder,? and a donor of $3,000 to $4,999 will be recognized as a ?Bronze Founder.?

Gifts of $2,999 and below are considered ?Friends of the Impact Fund.?

?Everybody doesn?t have to contribute at the same level,? Brennan said. ?Each of us has to examine where we are financially when we get involved in this. But at the same time, it?s a way of giving back to a community that?s been good to us for a long time.?

Jared Jost, recently appointed to the board, said he?s grateful for a chance to be involved in the HCF Impact Fund even though, at 30 years of age, he?s only beginning his professional career here.

?What is going on here is a great way to show others what can happen when you give back to the community,? he said. ?Every year, this endowment is going to give something important to the community.?

Kleiber said the board hopes to complete the initial funding campaign by mid-June. Board members themselves have been doing almost all of the one-on-one solicitations.

?It?s absolutely been a new experience for every one of us on the board,? he said.

?But it?s been good to visit with the people?and nobody has told me the Impact Fund is not worthwhile.?

The Hillsboro Community Foundation operates as an affiliate of the multi-million-dollar Greater Newton Community Foundation, as do several other smaller communities.

Dennis Lefevre, director of the GNCF, says the initial campaign in Hillsboro is off to an unusually successful start.

?Hillsboro is our star pupil right now in terms of the way this volunteer group of people has come together, organized themselves, defined their purpose and have gone out and done the hard work,? he said.

?It?s a testament to the small-town, get-it-done kind of mentality?which is great.?

Serving on the HCF board in addition to Kleiber, Hanschu, Bartel, Brennan and Jost are Keith Harder, Lynette Barkman, Clark Wiebe, Kim Kaufman, Delores Dalke and Gordon Mohn.

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