Building Community Through Charitable Giving

Susan Barry.

Susan Barry.

November 16 is the day set aside for our city to recognize and celebrate philanthropy. There are countless charities that rely on the generous contributions made by individuals and organizations that are responsible for improving the lives of others. This week, the Community Foundation of Louisville CEO and President Susan Barry shared her expertise on how they can help generous donors transform our community through charitable giving. She also offered some useful information about the Endow Kentucky tax credit, and how you can benefit.

LORI KOMMOR: How will the Louisville community celebrate National Philanthropy Day and how can our readers get involved? 

SUSAN BARRY: The local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals is hosting the Louisville celebration of National Philanthropy Day at the Galt House on Friday, Nov. 16. The Community Foundation is delighted to sponsor the awards for this special celebration that recognizes and pays tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy – and those people active in the philanthropic community – have made to our lives, our communities and our world.

Local awards are presented to those who donate their time, talent or treasure to enrich the greater Louisville area. Life-long volunteers as well as “up and coming” philanthropists are recognized, an award is also given to a fundraising professional for outstanding leadership and ethical practices in the development field, and a “Leave a Legacy” award is presented to a donor or professional advisor to recognize the importance of planned gifts and the impact they will have on our community in the future. The highlight of the event will be a keynote presentation by one of Louisville’s treasures, Christy Brown. She is well-known as a prominent civic leader and advocate for the arts, humanitarian efforts, historic preservation, and land conservation.

Everyone is welcome to attend, but tickets and tables are almost gone! Visit for more information.

KOMMOR: Tell me about the Community Foundation and how it impacts our community.

BARRY: The Community Foundation of Louisville helps generous people transform our community through charitable giving. The Fund for Louisville is a unique facet of the Community Foundation. This permanent endowment is a way for donors to give back to their hometown. Its sole purpose is to enrich our community, responding to needs and opportunities that change and evolve over time. The Fund for Louisville enables the Foundation to respond to issues when they arise, but we can also proactively identify and engage in innovative projects and charitable investments.

Since our founding in 1984, we have distributed over $500 million in grants to charitable organizations in the Louisville area and throughout the entire nation. Working together, the Foundation, our donors and community partners leverage collective knowledge, creativity and resources for a greater impact than any of us can make alone. We are the largest community foundation in the region, and one of the top 50 community foundations in the nation.

KOMMOR: What is the Endow Kentucky Tax Credit and how does it impact our readers?

BARRY: The Endow Kentucky Tax Credit enables any Kentucky taxpayer (business or individual) to receive a state tax credit of up to 20 percent of their charitable gift to a permanent endowment fund at their local community foundation (up to $10,000 per taxpayer). This limited-time opportunity is available until June 30, 2013. A total of $500,000 in tax credits has been allocated to this program, and credits may run out before the June 30 deadline.

Gifts can be cash or appreciated stock, and must be made to a qualified community foundation or affiliate foundation in Kentucky, such as the Community Foundation of Louisville and its affiliates. It’s a beneficial way to add to an existing endowment, or you can start a new endowment that benefits your favorite organization or cause.

To be eligible for the Endow Kentucky tax credit, you must receive prior approval through the Kentucky Department of Revenue before your charitable gift is made. Before considering a gift for the Endow Kentucky Tax Credit, contact Steve Milburn at the Community Foundation of Louisville at 502.855.6959 or

KOMMOR: How does the Community Foundation create a community-wide culture of giving and stewardship? 

BARRY: The Community Foundation supports a culture of giving through community-wide celebrations like National Philanthropy Day. Such events elevate the conversation about philanthropy and raise awareness about the value of charitable giving.

It’s also important to support innovation and creative thinking. We are founding partners with 55,000 Degrees, the Greater Louisville Project and Vision Louisville. These are “big picture” projects for our community, and philanthropic leadership is part of the process.

We also work in smaller ways, like our sponsorship of the Louisville Youth Philanthropy Council. The LYPC engages high school students to educate them about philanthropy, inspiring them through hand-on experiences to become community leaders. The most recent class of LYPC participants had 19 students representing 10 different public, private and parochial schools. They worked together, learning the history and practice of fundraising and grant-making, and at the end of the year awarded grants to Brooklawn and Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

KOMMOR: What are some of the challenges the Community Foundation endures in a tough economy? 

BARRY: We are dedicated to creating a permanent philanthropic resource for our community, so we invest our assets for long-term growth. When the markets experience volatility, so do we! But we have incredible leadership on our board’s investment and finance committees that have the vision to see beyond short-term losses or gains to the over-arching goal of maintaining the purchasing power of the funds we steward for our donors’ charitable interests.

Tough economic times can also make people hesitant to make a major charitable gift that will reduce their personal assets. I can tell you, though, that our Louisville community is generous. Our staff is busier than ever helping people define their charitable interests and finding ways to support them. Many of our donors are supporting their charitable interests now, but we also work with people to make charitable gifts after their lifetime through their estate plans. These legacy gifts are a wonderful commitment to our community’s future when most of us will no longer be here to personally witness it. But the Community Foundation will be here, carrying out our donors’ charitable wishes today, tomorrow and forever.