Putting down roots: Co-investment is responsible for the rapid growth of the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund. Only four years old, the combined principal of funds within the Alaska Community Foundation now totals around $80 million, according to Sherman. (GSLF image)

After a modest beginning, the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund is making a more significant contribution to local nonprofits.

The Fund on Wednesday (11-15-17) announced its second round of awards for 2017, pushing the year’s total to just over $18,000.

Downloadable audio.

Find complete details about the GSLF’s latest round of awards here.

Four years ago, when the fund started, its annual giving was closer to $4,000.

The Fund also has a staff member now, Robin Sherman, who told the Sitka Chamber of Commerce this week how the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund dovetailed with the rest of the nonprofits in the community.

One of the questions we often get is: You know, there are so many great organizations in this town. I support the Fine Arts Camp. I support SAFV. I support the Science Center. Why should I give money to the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund? And our answer is: We’d love it if you do both. Because giving to the local organizations that are doing great work in this community is critical for right now, but it’s hard to know what our needs are going to be for the long term. That’s why the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund is such a good, flexible resource for our future. And the money that we invest now through legacy gifts will be there in perpetuity through the endowment.

Sherman said that Alaskans were among the relatively few people who understood endowments, which function exactly like the Alaska Permanent Fund. Gifts to the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund are co-invested with contributions to other local chapters in an umbrella organization called the Alaska Community Foundation, resulting in a fund now worth about $80 million.

Grants, in Sitka and elsewhere, are made from the earnings on the fund — never from the principal.

Sherman’s salary is underwritten through 2020 by the Rasmuson Foundation. Rasmuson provided the seed money for the Alaska Community Foundation, and has agreed to match up to $125,000 in contributions to the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund over the next four years — provided the fund meets annual fundraising targets of its own.

In her presentation to the chamber, Sherman mentioned that the Fund was a bit short this year. Someone asked her about it during the Q&A afterwards. With many nonprofits in the audience, Sherman’s switch from grant-giver to fundraiser generated many smiles.

Audience – Can you mention again the match part? We have until December 31st to get another how much?
Sherman – I swear he is not a plant! (laughter) So every year in this four-year matching grant challenge, the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund board needs to set its fundraising goal for our permanent endowment. We have four years to raise $125,000, and this year our goal is $25,000. And it is a match-it-all-or-lose-it proposition. We need to raise $25,000 locally to get any of that match. We have until December 31st, and we have another $12,800 to go.

Sherman was joined in her presentation by board chair Mike Venneberg. She suggested that there were other ways to participate in the Fund besides giving money. “You can help us put on a fundraising event,” she said.

Note: In late November the GSLF received its largest single donation to date — $12,800 — from Beverly Caldwell. Mrs. Caldwell’s gift meets the Fund’s matching requirement for 2017.