Backup Plans Important in Building a Legacy

We have backup plans for everything – we buy insurance when we book a vacation just in case weather makes travel impossible, we use Waze to help us navigate so we have a backup route if there is an accident, and we apply to several colleges so if the first choice doesn’t work out, we have other options. Having a backup plan is an important part of being prepared for all the hurdles life throws at us.

The same is true of financial and philanthropic planning. The Community Foundation now manages more than 770 funds and they all contain backup language that specifies how the fund should be distributed in the event that the original intentions are no longer possible. We are helping donors build legacies of giving, and we know that life happens and hurdles pop up and sometimes things change. We build “what if” language into every fund agreement so that donors feel confident that their charitable intentions will be realized regardless of the unexpected.

The Jeanne Bussard Center, named after a young woman with intellectual and developmental disabilities, opened in 1965. The center provided jobs, training, companionship and learning opportunities for Frederick-area adults with developmental disabilities.

In 1993 The Jeanne Bussard Center Endowment Fund was created with the Community Foundation to provide support for the organization’s programs, client services and operations. In 2012, The Jeanne Bussard Center closed. Thanks to “what if” language written into the fund agreement, the legacy of supporting individuals with developmental disabilities as the fund creators envisioned continues, in spite of the organization closing its doors.

The “what if” provisions stated in fund agreement specify that “should the Jeanne Bussard Center cease to exist, the income from the fund shall be distributed to the ARC of Frederick County.” Starting in 2015, after the Center closed its doors, the Community Foundation started distributing grants directly to The Arc.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Frederick County was a viable organization that served local youth for many years. In 1994, the organization created The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Frederick County Endowment Fund with the Community Foundation. While the fund’s original purpose was to support operations for Big Brothers Big Sisters, the backup language specified that should the organization cease to exist, the fund should be allocated to youth projects in Frederick County.

When the organization dissolved in 2014, the Community Foundation pivoted to make sure the fund continued to support local youth just as the fund creators requested in their fund agreement. In recent years, grants from The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Frederick County Endowment Fund have been made to Boys & Girls Club of Frederick County and YMCA of Frederick County.

We can’t always predict what hurdles will pop up, but we can put plans in place to be nimble when the unexpected happens.  We are fortunate to have donors who are passionate about impacting local causes and organizations, and with a little bit of planning, we can ensure that their efforts make a difference for generations to come.

Published in The Frederick News Post on Sept. 26, 2022