We’re approaching the time of year when the pressure will be on.

Many of us will gather with friends and family on Thanksgiving, and take a moment to express our gratitude for the people and opportunities in our lives. The next day, we’ll be expected to start spending. Stores will be full. Lines will be long. Crowds will be on edge. All of us will be inundated with the message to buy, buy, buy.

In the midst of concerns about consumerism and the pressures of the holidays to spend more, one shift has emerged that at least helps families keep more of their hard-earned dollars close to home – buy local. It’s a great way for neighbors to show that they care about one another and their communities.

A lot of folks don’t consider how the same concept can extend to philanthropy.

As we are sifting through snail mail and emails that offer steep discounts on holiday décor, toys and party dresses, we’ll also receive appeals for national and international organizations that are working to fight hunger, renew forests and fund research.

Those are certainly worthy causes, but there’s good reason to keep some of your charitable giving close to home, too. There are organizations and people right here in your community who are working hard to keep kids in your school district fed, protecting environments you directly enjoy and supporting your friends and neighbors as they fight cancer.

If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where people come together to support each other, there’s good reason to not just buy local, but to give local, too.

One way to do that is through a community foundation. At Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, you can choose from more than 700 funds that support local causes. Giving to one of those funds means you can make a difference in our community today.

Even better, you have an opportunity to help your community address needs now and 100 years in the future, problems we can’t presume to know. 

Your gift can help your community care for those in need long after you’re gone. By giving to an unrestricted, endowed fund managed by your local community foundation, you can make a difference forever. 

Ways to give

The potential to do good in your community is unlimited, because community foundations are flexible enough to work with donors from all walks of life to give money where its needed most – whether that means supporting literacy, animal welfare, arts and culture, senior services, food pantries or anything else the community needs.

Community Trust Foundation (CTF) serves Allegany and Garrett counties in Maryland and Mineral County in West Virginia by connecting philanthropy with community good through charitable funds. These funds are professionally managed and grants and scholarships are awarded annually to nonprofit organizations, programs and deserving students. 

In the past 10 years, CTF has granted out more than $5.5 million to the tri-county region.

In 2019, CTF’s funds helped provide camping and water-skiing experiences for blind youth, purchased a commercial refrigerator for a local food bank, established a dental clinic for underinsured residents and purchased instruments and equipment for a state of the art piano studio at a local college.

Because of CTF’s donors, all elementary schools in Allegany County now have fully equipped robotics clubs for STEM learning, the Energy Express summer reading program in Mineral County is funded for five years, and free music tutoring for more than 40 students is available in Garrett County.

Our greatest need at this time is to prepare for ever-changing needs in Allegany, Garrett and Mineral counties with separate endowment funds for each county. Contributions to these funds are earmarked for the specific county and address the charitable demands of that community as it evolves – whether it be workforce development, literacy, youth programming or combatting the opioid epidemic. For more information, visit ctfinc.org or call us at 301-876-9172. 

Endowments

Endowments are actually quite simple. Money donated for an endowment is professionally invested. The income and growth are distributed in a set amount each year to support local charitable causes. Having a fixed amount distributed allows the endowed portion to grow during years when the investments exceed the set distribution amount.

This means the endowed fund continues to increase, and the percentage distributed then grows proportionately, too. 

In years when the investments lag, there is enough retained growth that the fund still can make distributions to charities. Using this strategy, your gift gives forever.

Community Foundation for the Alleghenies has endowed funds that target specific communities: Bedford County Community Fund, Somerset County Community Fund and the Portage Endowment Fund. 

On a regional scale, the Fund for the Future provides grants twice a year to nonprofits throughout Bedford, Cambria, Indiana and Somerset counties. 

Donors who’ve built up those endowment funds are helping put books into kids’ hands, providing access to dental care for people who couldn’t otherwise afford it, and connecting communities to each other and to a better future through improved multi-county trail systems.

Those are just a few of the current needs local grant-making is addressing. As our communities move into the future, those same funds – supported by past and present donors – will adapt to address new challenges. 

To find out more or make a donation online, visit cfalleghenies.org/funds or call us at 814-536-7741.

You could be part of those positive changes or create your own legacy. What’s your passion? If you are going to make a life here, why not improve the place where you and your children live or where you have spent 30, 40 or 50 years of your life?

No matter your charitable interests, your local community foundation makes it easy for you to experience the joy of giving locally and investing in the place you call home. 

Make a lasting difference, right here at home. Find out how at cfalleghenies.org and ctfinc.org.

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