And working together with other nonprofits, community leaders and volunteers is something that the Warren County United Way has been doing since its founding. Thanks to the generosity of renowned local artist Len G. Everett, the organization has been able to put 100 percent of the contributions it receives back into Warren County communities. “When Len made the estate gift before his passing, he wanted to ensure we would be able to serve our county forever,” Jeannie said. “We’ve been able to do that for more than four decades.”
Now, the Warren County United Way is working to grow its endowment through an exciting partnership with the Galesburg Community Foundation. The Community Foundation will now administer the United Way’s endowment fund.
“By moving our endowment to the Community Foundation, we gain so much. Now, we have access to experts who help us grow our endowment. We are also able to continue our partnership with Midwest Bank in Warren County, who will help Galesburg Community Foundation manage our fund,” Jeannie said. “It is amazing how seamlessly we are all able to work together.”
While exciting, this partnership was also new for everyone involved. Dr. Steve Buban, board chair of the Warren County United Way, admits he wasn’t completely sold on the idea of another organization holding their endowment fund assets. “I’ll admit it. I was skeptical at first,” said Steve, who has served on the United Way’s board of directors on and off since the 1980s. “I wanted to make sure we were making the right decision when we considered partnering with the Community Foundation. And today, I can say we absolutely made the right decision.”
In fact, Steve said that partnering with the Community Foundation was a very wise and responsible decision. “We didn’t have the people with the expertise, the time or the commitment to oversee the endowment,” he said. “To have a professional team to safeguard funds as we do now, we can be comfortable knowing those funds are secure and will be intelligently invested.”
It is a legacy that Jeannie and Steve both say Len Everett would be incredibly proud of. “He (Len Everett) wanted every single penny that we ask from donors to go straight to the agencies it was intended to support. It is a wonderful thing,” Steve said.
“He truly believed in our work to positively impact our region. His hope has turned into reality. It lives on today, and hopefully inspires others to do the same,” Jeannie added. “We hope other local nonprofits are inspired by what we’re doing with our endowment. By working together, we’re creating more opportunities for our region to flourish. Endowments are one way. So, too, are partnerships.”