Getting the word out

Members of the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation were busy Thursday going across the county to showcase what their organization can do for those wishing to donate to charitable needs.

Darcy Swon, Development Director for the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation, said the organization met with five different target audiences on Thursday, including professional advisors, local foundations, farmers and nonprofits. She said the organization met with more than 70 people through the course of the day.

The day came to a close with a dinner at Second Street Emporium where Joe Sorenson, Manager of Affiliate Relations with the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, spoke to prospective donors about different types of funds that they could set up through the organization.

“The sole purpose of the organization is to improve the quality of life in Hamilton County,” Swon said. “And we do that by donor driven charitable giving whether it’s an individual, family or business.”

Swon said the foundation, which began in 2005, serves as a liaison between donors and charitable needs in the county. The main vehicle which the Foundation drives charitable giving is endowments.

Sorenson presented two kinds of endowment funds that donors could use through the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation. With donor advised funds, a donor contributes a starting donation and makes a yearly donation until the fund becomes self-sustaining with its rate of return. A donor advised fund allows a donor to support a variety of local charitable causes during and well after their lifetime. The other type of fund presented, a designated fund, works in a similar fashion to a donor advised fund, but is established to benefit a specific organization to help ensure the sustainability of the organization.

Sorenson said that one donor came to him after his mother passed away and left some money behind. With that money, the donor was able to set up a fund that would build money and give a five percent payout each year to the church that the donor’s mother regularly attended.

“[The donor] told me his mother would be proud to know she had a hand in helping this church forever,” Sorenson said.

Other EHCF board members, including Mike Peterson and President Brian Holt discussed how their contributions to endowment funds helped to benefit the county. Peterson said he got his family involved in the endowment process.

“That way, they can help give back to the community that has frankly been so good to us,” Peterson said.

More information on the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation can be found online at