Named endowments can start with just $1,000!

Tina Peterson

Tina Peterson. Photo by Jeffrey Hammond


What’s on your wish list for a stronger local community? Whether you dream of accessible preschool programs, strategies for sustainability, or prominent public art, facilitating those changes may be easier than you think. Tina Peterson, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, explains that, contrary to many people’s assumptions, you don’t need millions of dollars to create a philanthropic endowment. You can design your own fund to perpetually support a cause of your choice—from entrepreneurship to animal welfare—with a donation of $10,000.

Of course, that’s still a lot of money, but Peterson says Monroe County residents are often pleasantly surprised to learn that named endowments can be started with as little as $1,000. The foundation’s Acorn Giving program allows donors to build a $10,000 gift over ten years, which grows into an enduring legacy for the community. Donors can specify their areas of interest, and Community Foundation staff will work with them to identify the best ways to make their money have an impact.

“I think that’s part of the beauty of the foundation—that you can come in with a passion, without necessarily knowing how to realize it, and we can provide the tools to determine your options for achieving that goal,” she says. “We also have access to investment vehicles that might not be available to the average investor, because your $10,000 gift is going to be pooled with our $20 million endowment. That’s a big piece of what we offer—sophisticated financial expertise.”

The foundation also accepts contributions of any size to its existing funds and supports “giving circles” like the New Philanthropists group that combines individual gifts of $200 to create a larger resource for collectively identified needs. On the other end of the spectrum, the organization manages high-level contributions from both individuals and corporations, such as the $500,000 P. Stuart and Anna L. Holmquest Fund to support innovative programs for children and the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program that grants full-ride college scholarships to two high school seniors each year.

By serving as a type of clearinghouse for local philanthropy, Peterson says the Community Foundation is able to facilitate investments that are more than the sum of their parts. “We’re not just a savings account for the community,” she says. “We’re able to do something more catalytic—supporting innovation and problem solving and providing community leadership.”

For further information, call 333-9016 or email [email protected].