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Local Nonprofits Could See $137 Million in Charitible Gifts by 2015

Posted on November 21, 2007

A Transfer of Wealth Report commissioned by Midwest Community Foundation Ventures, a supporting organization of the Council of Michigan Foundations in Grand Haven, says that residents in St. Clair County and Sanilac County could transfer almost $137 million to charities and nonprofit organizations by the year 2015.

The full report, available at, was prepared by the Rural Policy Research Institute Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Lincoln, Nebraska. Using data from the Federal Reserve Bank, its survey of Consumer Finances, and estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the report indicates;

  • The current average net worth of households in St. Clair County is $210,943 which is slightly higher than the State average of $197,652
  • The current average net worth of households in Sanilac County is $204,713
  • The total estimated net worth of all residents in St. Clair County is $13.67 billion and in Sanilac it is $3.42 billion
  • By the end of 2015 approximately $2.74 billion will be transferred in St. Clair and Sanilac Counties from “Baby Boomers” to their heirs, governments for taxes and to nonprofits
  • If nonprofits in the two counties could capture just 5% of that total transfer, they would receive $136.8 million in total gifts

According to Chuck Kelly, chairman of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, if these projections are accurate, the Community Foundation could reach a total asset size exceeding $79 million by 2015.

“That would significantly enhance the programs and projects the Community Foundation is able to fund,” said Kelly. “At that size, we would be making annual grants and scholarships totaling somewhere around $3.1 million to $4.1 million annually, compared to somewhere around $1.5 million annually now.” Since 1997 the Foundation has awarded more than $10.8 million in total grants, scholarships and distributions.

In Sanilac County, the community foundation currently has assets of $3.7 million. “We’re a new foundation and have been very pleased with our growth,” said Joan Nagelkirk, the executive director of the foundation. “If the Transfer of Wealth projections hold true, we foresee that we could take in an additional $25 million in gifts over the next ten years, which would translate into an additional $1.3 million in annual grants within Sanilac County.”

The two community foundations stressed however that maximizing the benefits for both counties will require the coordinated efforts of all major nonprofit organizations. According to Chuck Kelly, “Our nonprofit partners like East China and Algonac Schools, SC4, the hospitals, library and our community funds, among others, will need to coordinate our messages about planned gifts through wills and estates.”

According to Randy Maiers, president of the foundation, oftentimes donors interested in making large, lifetime gifts look for organizations that have well run endowment funds. Endowment funds, which are the core focus of community foundations throughout the country, are permanent funds which generally spend only a small percentage of their total assets on an annual basis, thus ensuring they will live on in perpetuity.

“Our collective goal is to build up strong Community Investment Funds for our core communities, along with endowed funds for our nonprofit partners,” concluded Kelly. The Foundation currently has Community Investment Funds for Port Huron, the City of St. Clair, Cottrellville Township, Algonac & Clay Townships, plus an overall fund for the entire county.

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