GUEST COLUMN: Be part of community foundation’s future

By LARRY PEJEAU, guest columnist

The Brown County Community Foundation will present its annual report to the community Thursday, June 23, at the Seasons Conference Center.

The event will kick off at 4:30 p.m. with the third annual volunteer fair, where potential volunteers can meet staff from more than 20 local nonprofits and learn about volunteer opportunities.

This is truly a wonderful and fun event where you can network and easily become more engaged in the community.

The annual BCCF celebration will start at 6 p.m., and both events are open to the public. Please come help us celebrate another wonderful year of growth and engagement for your community foundation.

In preparation for the event, I have been enjoying reading numerous articles about past annual reports on the new Brown County Democrat newspaper archives located at I have learned quite a bit of new information about the organization’s history, important milestones and I found myself in awe of the dedicated volunteer service of the many stakeholders that were responsible for starting this organization.

I read with great interest about the first public meeting of the organization June 29, 1994, at the Brown County Inn, where the first endowed fund, the Larry C. Banks Bronze Star Memorial Scholarship, was opened. That scholarship was started with $2,500. It now has assets of $31,000 and has awarded $17,500 in scholarships to local graduates. Charles Johnson, vice president of Lilly, was one of the keynote speakers. He stated: “Community foundations are catalysts. Foundations unify different people with varying needs for the overall good of the community.” This statement still rings true today.

I learned from a 1996 edition of The Democrat that the BCCF was incorporated in that year and was no longer under the umbrella of The Heritage Fund, but a stand-alone organization managing its own portfolio of investments. The highlight of the annual report that year was a new videotape, “For Our County, For Its People, Forever.” This videotape, narrated by board member Jim McDermott, directed by Danny Snow and filmed by Richard and Zachary Zieg, was the beginning of the organization’s planned giving program. The videotape answered frequently asked questions about the “mechanics of charitable giving of cash, stocks, bonds, real estate or anything of value.”

Planned giving is still an important voluntary act of charitable giving that can provide support to a local organization forever and gifts that can be professionally administered by your Brown County Community Foundation.

I also read with interest The Democrat’s article about the April 30, 1997, annual report, when four new citizens joined the board of the organization: John Davis, Nancy Tracey, Burt Borgelt and Howard Hughes. John Rudd was elected president of that board, and Del Newkirk became the first executive director.

The BCCF was in the middle of the first Lilly Endowment Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) campaign working to raise $500,000. The organization had 64 funds at this point and total assets of $900,000. Del Newkirk stated, “We believe that what we have begun will be here forever.”

Del also predicted that in 10 years, the foundation would have $7 million in assets and annually make grants of $350,000. I searched the archives for BCCF news from that year and Del’s predictions were prescient. Total BCCF assets in 2007 were $7.4 million and $545,823 in grants and disbursements were awarded.

In 2015, the BCCF opened 20 new endowed funds, total assets were $9,938,774 and $843,724 in grants was awarded.

The foundation still strives to be a catalyst for positive community change by working collaboratively with nonprofit entities to identifying important needs and attracting local philanthropy to effectively address those needs.

Your Brown County Community Foundation is still governed by a volunteer board of trustees and guided by six all-volunteer committees. Our business model is still based on a strategy to deliver the greatest good to the county forever.

You can read about the history, the many positive accomplishments and the numerous local citizens that made your Brown County Community Foundation a reality by visiting the Brown County Democrat’s new archives.

Or, you can meet those volunteers, donors and staff members involved in sustaining the organization today at the 2015 annual report to the community.

We invite you to join us to celebrate another year of positive growth and visit with many of our nonprofit partners that are making a difference every day throughout Brown County at the third annual Volunteer Fair. We hope to see you there.

Larry Pejeau is the CEO of the Brown County Community Foundation. He can be reached at or 812-988-4882.