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January 2021

Bill Seklar

“I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious task of wise distribution.” - Andrew Carnegie, Philanthropist

 On January 1, 2018, The Community House Association’s Board of Directors announced the creation of a new and separate entity; The Community House Foundation to act as a supporting organization to The Community House Association. This was a transformational announcement.

With this historic announcement we learned that the mission of the new Community House Foundation was to generate and secure supplemental philanthropic funds needed to fulfill our promise – to families and to the community – who depend on us to deliver a variety of quality programs and services throughout the region. Robust philanthropy supports a wide range of programs and services, today and in the future, that benefit the community. 


In addition to securing supplemental funding to maintain quality programming and services at TCH, Community House Association’s leadership also mandated that The Community House Foundation dedicate itself to raising funds and awareness for the preservation and perpetual care of The Community House Association’s historic building and nearly century-old plant.

In setting up the new foundation we were reminded that historic preservation is a critical movement in planning – designed to conserve old buildings and areas in order to permanently tie a place’s history to its population and culture. 


With these goals in mind, much of The Community House Foundation’s initial efforts have focused on assessing, educating, and carefully pairing passionate and caring donors with the immediate and emerging needs of The Community House Association – critical needs over and above its normal day to day operations.

Throughout 2020, the philanthropic work of The Community House Foundation became even more pivotal as the nation entered a new era of COVID-19. With half of its profit centers closed since March 2020, a third of its staff furloughed or laid off and our doors shuttered, The Community House Association leaned heavily on the Foundation, its staff and leadership to provide relief and grant support during these unparalleled times.


As a separate non-profit charitable organization, the Community House Foundation was steadily governed by a separate and independent Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers.

2019-2020 Community House Foundation Board Members included:


• Bradley J. Wolf, Chair

• Barbara Hertzler, Past Chair

• Deric Righter, Treasurer

• Jacob Taylor, Officer

• William D. Seklar, President & CEO

Their service, advice and counsel helped shepherd The Community House Association and Foundation through these uncertain times, protected its mission and assets and helped provide the Foundation a philanthropic road map for the future.

Non-profit foundations that do stewardship and fundraising well can draw upon their endowments for important initiatives, particularly as revenue declines and expenses grow. The Community House Foundation is no different.

Fortunately, over the last 10 months, charitable donations at The Community House Foundation continued to come in – despite the pandemic. Of special significance, much of this giving occurred through several transformational planned gifts – gifts made after a donor’s death.

When establishing The Community Foundation, we learned that planned giving is key for non-profit, charitable organizations to build up their endowment funds and to fund ever pressing capital needs. Bequest programs are typically the centerpiece of robust planned giving. About one-third of foundations offer gift annuities, and many others offer charitable trusts, and donor-advised funds.

We also learned that legacy programs constitute an important means for all nonprofit charitable organizations to cultivate donors and a vehicle to provide some ongoing donor benefits. We learned that only 38 percent of the foundations have legacy programs. 2020 taught us that a robust legacy and planned giving program must become the centerpiece of our philanthropic endeavors going forward.

It is, therefore, timely and vital that The Community House and The Community House Foundation plan to roll out its most comprehensive Legacy and Planned Giving Program in its 98-year history – in early 2021. Wise distribution. More details to come.

Should you be interested in learning more about estate planning, legacy and planned giving, major gifts or naming opportunities at The Community House, please contact the office of president at or call 248.644.5832. Be safe, stay well.

William D. Seklar is President & CEO of The Community House and The Community House Foundation in Birmingham.


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