New Community Foundation Attracts More Gifts

One of Arkansas' newest and largest community foundations is already attracting additional money.

CommunityCare Foundation was created late last year as a result of the sale of Northwest Health System, which included Northwest Medical Center in Springdale and Bates Medical Center in Bentonville. The foundation's assets ? about $140 million ? make it second in Arkansas only to the Walton Family Foundation Inc., which listed assets of nearly $152 million in 1996, the latest date for which information was available.

Despite its size, however, CommunityCare will likely grow with additional donations. Hugh Means is president of the foundation and Suzanne Ward is executive director. They say the intent is to serve as a vehicle for additional donors.

As a community foundation, CommunityCare can ensure that gifts are used in the manner donors intend, taking care of the legal and financial details. The donors, then, free themselves of the responsibility of managing their money but get the tax benefits such gifts earn.

"It's really us being a vehicle for other people to put money into the community and not so much that we need the money," Ward says. "We've had a number of people come to us and say, ?I want funds to go into the community but I don't want to manage it,' or ?I want to put something in my will that will support nonprofit [causes].' They can put their money here and it helps them get a tax deduction."

CommunityCare's assets have been invested with Northwest Bank of Minneapolis as primary money manager. The foundation plans to announce by year's end guidelines for applying for its grants. CommunityCare grants will be used to help support the health and welfare of the community. In the interim, the foundation is soliciting public input to help it define a "healthy community."