More Than Money
Issue #32

Passing the Torch: The Great Wealth Transfer

Table of Contents

“BANG for the BUCK - Buck to the Future!”

The idea of investing money for a hundred years still sparks the philanthropic imagination today. Although Benjamin Franklin wasn’t the inspiration for The Tricentennial Fund of Nashville, Tennessee, the idea that spawned the fund echoes Franklin’s thinking.
   “I’m embarrassed to say I wasn’t aware of Franklin’s will when we established The Tricentennial Fund,” said Ellen Lehman, executive director of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT). The CFMT houses dozens of special interest funds, each earmarked for specific nonprofits or fields of interest. The Tricentennial Fund differs from all other funds in one respect: the principal will remain untouched for a hundred years. Begun in 1996 as Tennessee celebrated the 200th anniversary of its founding, the Tricentennial Fund will continue to appreciate until 2096.
   The solicitation campaign helped contributors get an idea of how a small contribution today becomes a major gift in a hundred years. For example, a gift of $22 today might be expected to be worth $303,173.47 in a hundred years. To make a $30 million contribution to the future, a donor needed to contribute only $2222.22 (all those twos honored the bicentennial!). Even with conservative rates of return, hundreds of millions of dollars will be allocated by and for future generations.
   Lehman says The Tricentennial Fund is just a long-term version of what the Community Foundation does. “It’s the community’s savings account, where people put money aside to meet the needs of the community. Take a look at your community, and see if you can imagine what the needs will be a hundred years from now,” Lehman says. “There is one thing you can say for sure: that the people who live in the community are going to be best equipped to say what that community needs.”
   Community foundations offer a variety of options for donors to help meet community needs today and as far into the future as you can imagine. Visit: grantmaker/gws_comm/comm.html

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