Palestine's Action Fund new idea in philanthropy

Published on Sunday, 30 March 2014 22:51 - Written by BETTY WATERS blw@tylerpaper.com

PALESTINE — A new entity, The Action Fund is “the only giving circle in Palestine” and represents a new concept in philanthropy for this town, Ahnise Summers, chairwoman, said.

 “We are really excited about it and it has been well received,” she said.

By joining The Action Fund, members pool their philanthropic monetary donations are able to make a bigger impact with their gifts in the community than individually, Ms. Summers said.

“By pooling our contributions, we have the power to make high-impact gifts that can affect significant positive change in our community,” she said.

The Action Fund was formed in mid-May 2013 as a program of the Texas Area Funds Foundation in response to community focus groups expressing concerns for community issues and solutions.

According to a brochure, the fund emphasizes pooling resources, identifying issues, finding solutions, stimulating change, transforming the community and having an impact on lives to enhance the quality of life in the community.

The Action Fund awarded three grants totaling $30,000 in February to nonprofit organizations and has set a goal of raising $75,000 next year.

Of that sum, Ms. Summers said, 70 percent would be allocated for grants, 15 percent for an endowment fund and 15 percent for administrative expenses.

“We want to educate the community about philanthropy to help people understand the philanthropic spirit and we wanted to raise awareness about the Texas Area Fund Foundation, a community umbrella fund,” Ms. Summers said.

Another aim of The Action Fund is to promote awareness of 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations in the community, she said.

The Action Fund focuses on four areas: education, health and human services, art and culture and preservation and beautification.

It has approximately 70 members who are individuals, couples and businesses that give annually at various levels.

Donors of less than $300 are classified as “friends” and nonvoting members. Donors of $300 or more are considered voting members and may vote on recipients of grants from The Action Fund.

“We are fortunate to have four lifetime memberships. It means those people gave a pledge of $25,000,” Ms. Summers said. It means they can pay over three to five years.

Other levels of membership are $600, $1,200; $3,600; $5,000; and $10,000 and represent an annual commitment to be paid in full each year.

“We have good response to renewal cards,” Ms. Summers said.

The Action Fund had its start with a kick-off event in a private home and members were recruited. Later representatives of 501c3 nonprofit organizations in town were invited to a meeting when the grant process, how to apply for grants and criteria were explained.

Recipients of the first grants given by The Action Fund were announced in February.

A $25,000 grant was given to the Women’s Health Connection Clinic for purchase of a dental chair to assist the clinic in providing dental care to the under-insured and the uninsured in the community. The clinic’s patients include women, men and children.

A $3,000 grant went to the Family Outreach & Resource Center, the only adult day care facility in Palestine, for technology upgrades and a facelift.

A $2,000 grant was awarded to the ICEE Success Foundation to enhance the regular school curriculum by creating activities for students in grades five and six designed to encourage the use of critical and innovative thinking skills in a creative way.

A grant committee of The Action Fund vets applications and members of the fund vote on which applicants receive grants. Only nonprofit organizations in the Palestine/Anderson County area may apply.