Agency endowments keep organizations running

The Hancock County Community Foundation stewards more than 270 endowed, named funds. Each has its own charitable purpose and falls within a category of fund types. One type of fund is called a nonprofit operating fund, or agency endowment, and provides a permanent source of income for charitable organizations providing vital services to those in need. In early 2016, an anonymous donor established an operating endowment to benefit Mental Health Partners of Hancock County.

Under the leadership of executive director Kim Hall, Mental Health Partners provides a wealth of services with a focus on addiction recovery and suicide prevention. From January to April 2016, Hancock County averaged one suicide death per week among its residents. The organization provides mental health counseling for individuals with extreme financial need, focusing on grief, anxiety and depression. Through Mental Health Partners, a person can attend six free, hour-long sessions with one of two therapists with whom the organization contracts. The organization provided 18 people with counseling services in 2016.

The foundation also convenes a teen forum that works to remove the stigma of mental illness. Kim Hall recalls a story that frustrated one of the teen members and motivated her to catalyze change. A student sitting next to her in the school cafeteria dropped a tube of lip balm and it rolled toward a table where students with autism were sitting. This student didn’t pick it up because she didn’t want to go near “them.” Hall said the teen forum member who witnessed this became involved with Mental Health Partners because she believes too many students don’t know how to interact with their peers who have disabilities.

To ensure the important work continues, the new Mental Health Partners Endowment will provide operating funding to help further its mission — working for the promotion and preservation of mental health and wellness, increasing access to resources in the treatment of persons who are affected by emotional or mental illness, and forming partnerships between business entities, government agencies and private individuals and organizations to achieve those goals.

The foundation had the pleasure of sharing the surprise news of the endowment with Mental Health Partners. “I was so shocked. I wanted to cry,” Kim Hall describes her reaction to the news that this fund had been established. “When someone tells you they believe in your organization’s mission, it really gives you the ability to believe in yourself and know that you’ve been doing something right. Even if you don’t know who that person is, that gives you a reason to want to help more people.”

The foundation works with caring people to create permanent funds for charitable causes they care about during — and in many cases after — their lifetime by naming a fund as a beneficiary of an IRA, will, trust, or other gift instrument. The staff at The foundation is ready to work with donors and professional advisers to help strengthen the community through the stewardship and administration of their generosity. Organizations that benefit, like Mental Health Partners, are forever grateful!

Mary Gibble is the president of the Hancock County Community Foundation. She can be reached at 317-462-8870, ext. 239 or