Hudson Community Fund marks decade of serviceNext month the Hudson Community Fund will mark its 10th anniversary, and those who have been there from the start say it is just the beginning. The HCF was founded in 1999 and is a separate operating division of the St. Croix Valley Community Foundation, which manages and invests the assets of the Hudson Community Fund.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
Next month the Hudson Community Fund will mark its 10th anniversary, and those who have been there from the start say it is just the beginning.
The HCF was founded in 1999 and is a separate operating division of the St. Croix Valley Community Foundation, which manages and invests the assets of the Hudson Community Fund.
According to current board of directors President Jay Griggs, the HCF has grown to just over $1 million in assets over the last decade. It is made up of more than 20 individual donor funds and a general fund. Since making its first donation in 2000 to the Hudson High School All-Night Graduation Party, now an annual donation, the HFC has awarded grants totaling more than $115,000 throughout the community while providing donors a variety of options in which to give back to the community.
Modeled after a community fund in the Fox Valley, the fund is made up of a pool of donors with diverse interests and backgrounds who have
a common goal of enhancing the quality of life in their community. Their contributions provide for a long-term investment where assets can grow into a permanent endowment. Earnings from the assets are then given back to the community in the form of grants.
Retired First National Bank President Ken Heiser served as HCF’s first president. He saw the HCF as something the community needed.
“We all could see the good the various foundations like Andersen’s and the Phipps can accomplish, but there is a limit to what they can do. We saw the Hudson Community Fund as a way to give local people a chance to give back to Hudson by helping those who help the community,” said Heiser.
The fund got started with a grant from the Bremer Foundation that would give the HCF $20,000 if it raised $10,000. First National Bank donated $10,000 and Heiser, along with others including past presidents Sam Cari and Susie Gilbert, raised the matching funds and then some to create HCF.
The fund provides several options for individual donors to tailor their giving to suit their wishes and interests. They include field of interest funds for very specific purposes, donor-advised funds that provide for a dedicated endowment, future funds designed for mid-level donors who establish an endowment over time, and unrestricted funds that are distributed to meet community needs.
Heiser said he wishes the general fund were bigger than it is today, but he is pleased with the progress the fund has made over the past 10 years and the growing support of donors both to the unrestricted fund and the other options.
“With the fund, everybody can be a philanthropist. You don’t need to have $50,000 or $100,000 to begin making a difference, and you don’t have to worry about all the paperwork and management of it. You can start with something far less and build it over time. And it allows for generations of a family to get directly involved in a legacy of giving,” said Heiser.
Sam Cari said he hopes that the HCF will grow faster over the next decade as the community becomes more aware of it. “There is definitely room for growth. And we are looking for new ways to get the word out that this is a wonderful way to give back. It really comes down to how important is the community you live in to your life. I know the people who live here have a great deal of pride in Hudson, and we hope that motivates them to be a part of the fund.”
Cari is particularly fond of the field of interest funds that allow a donor to designate funds to be focused on something the donor cares about. “You don’t get that with other organizations. Whether you care about music or art, sports, the environment, even birdwatching, you can support those interests, have your money invested by the foundation and get the tax benefit.”
Gilbert, too, had hoped the HCF would be bigger than it is by its 10th year, but is proud of the impact it has had on the many organizations it has assisted with grants over the years. She says Hudson is lucky to have so many non-profit groups that improve the quality of life for everyone in the community.
“It is wonderful to be able to be a resource for these organizations even if our donations aren’t as large as we would like, but I believe they make a difference. And over the next 20 to 30 years, I hope we will be able to make much more of an impact as the fund grows.”
Griggs believes that as more and more Hudson families become familiar with the HCF, they will want to be part of it.
“Our dream is to surpass $20 million in the fund so we can give out $1 million in grants each year to benefit the community. It took us 10 years to get to the first million, but from here on I expect the rate of growth will increase as more local citizens find out how we can help them create a legacy and make a difference by giving something back to their community.”
For more information about the Hudson Community Fund, go to www.hudsoncommunityfund.org or email Griggs at email@example.com.