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Organizers: “Chatham Fund Will Support Not Compete With Local Charities”

By: Alan Pollock

There’s no shortage of grassroots organizations to take on Chatham’s human services challenges and environmental problems. But making sure there’s adequate money to meet those needs – and future needs not even identified yet – is the goal of the Chatham Fund.

A project of the Yarmouthport-based Cape Cod Foundation, the Chatham Fund was the idea of a group of Chatham residents who came together in late 2011 seeking to model a similar program created in Falmouth. Chris Rhinesmith of Pine Acres Realty, the chairman of the Chatham Fund’s advisory board, said the fund seeks to create an endowment that specifically funds Chatham charities.

“There was a thought that, rather than making a gift to a fund that benefits the whole Cape, if you can donate money and earmark it for the towns you live in, that would be a great concept,” Rhinesmith said. The fund was ready to roll out last year, he said, but organizers decided to wait until the Orpheum Theater and Chatham 300 groups had established themselves. “We didn’t want to compete with those types of initiatives,” he said.

The Chatham Fund first made headlines when it received sizeable grants from the Chatham 300 Committee. Part of the money, $35,000 will allow the fund to provide annual grants over the next decade, and the remaining $40,000 will support the fund’s endowment.

“There’s a lot of great organizations here in Chatham,” Rhinesmith said. By specifically targeting large donations and planned giving bequests, the Chatham Fund is seeking to create an endowment that will allow a steady stream of grants in the future. A similar fund created in Worcester in 1975 now has a $110 million endowment, he noted.

“We want to work synergistically with these other organizations, rather than compete with them,” he said. Though the specifics haven’t been worked out, the fund will support human service needs, education, cultural enrichment and environmental concerns. And most importantly, the grants will be managed by local people, Rhinesmith said.

Joining Rhinesmith on the Chatham Fund’s nine-member advisory board are Chris Wise, Hank Holden, Larry Capodilupo, Richard Costello, William Litchfield, Barbara Matteson, John King and John Whelan. “It’s a great group, I think,” Rhinesmith said. The advisory board will be working with The Cape Cod Foundation to create a grant review process to be managed by a yet-to-be-created committee of local people “who know where the needs are in town,” Rhinesmith said.

Kristin O’Malley, the foundation’s new Executive Director, said the goal of the Chatham Fund is to be forward-thinking. “We’re helping to create an endowment for the community,” she said. “We’re not necessarily able to predict what those future needs are.”

The Cape Cod Foundation will administer the fund, performing “back office” functions, Rhinesmith said. The Foundation is charging a fee of 1.5 percent of the market value of the endowment up to $500,000. Once the endowment grows beyond that size, the percentage will drop, O’Malley said.

“That covers all of the work that we do,” she said, including the solicitation of donations, oversight of the grant process and record keeping, and working with grantees. “There’s a lot of work that goes into that,” she said.

“It’s money well spent if we can get where we want to go,” Rhinesmith said.

Many of the fund’s particulars – including the types of needs eligible for grant consideration – have yet to be determined, he said. Recipients will need to be registered as charities under the IRS’ 501(c)3 regulations, he added.

Rhinesmith said there are many summer residents and visitors to Chatham who love the town and who want to give something back, “but they may not know about all the great local organizations.” By contributing to The Chatham Fund, they can do their part nonetheless, he said.

For information about The Chatham Fund, call 508-790-3040 or email info@capecodfoundation.org.

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