The Rasmuson Foundation is Alaska’s largest philanthropic organization, and for the past five years it has been working with the Alaska Community Foundation to establish satellite foundations in towns across Alaska.
Now, they’d like to establish one in Kodiak.
“It’s a vehicle to give money to,” explained Ed Rasmuson, chairman of the Rasmuson Foundation. “We do all the bookkeeping, the IRS stuff.”
As implemented in places like Petersburg, Haines, Talkeetna and Seward, Rasmuson-organized foundations distribute grants and act as managers for other funds.
If a person, say, donates $1 million in a will to establish a foundation for a particular nonprofit, said Rasmuson Foundation president Diane Kaplan, the community foundation can handle investing, annual distribution and make any changes if the nonprofit goes out of business or its mission changes.
“If things change … we’ll make sure donors’ intent is met,” she said.
The purpose of the community foundation isn’t to take away from Rasmuson’s existing grant program or other philanthropic drives in Kodiak.
This year alone, the Rasmuson Foundation gave more than $1.1 million to Kodiak projects including the new Kodiak Public Library and an expansion of the Brother Francis Shelter.
Those big grants will continue to be available. The community foundation will handle smaller donations and act as a receptacle for people who want to support Kodiak nonprofits financially but aren’t sure how to do that.
Rasmuson and Kaplan gave the example of Seward, where Tony Rollo — who had no descendants — left $2 million to the Seward Community Foundation after a largely anonymous life. “Without the foundation, that money would have gone to the state of Alaska’s general fund,” Kaplan said.
To get things rolling, the Rasmuson Foundation will provide some money, but only once people in Kodiak set things up.
In a meeting Wednesday, community leaders took the first steps to do just that. Those in attendance at the meeting included Mark Anderson, CEO of Koniag; Craig Johnson of Edward Jones; Mike Brechan; Matt Moir of Alaska Pacific Seafoods; and other Kodiak luminaries.
Kodiak mayor and Senior Citizens of Kodiak executive director Pat Branson attended the meeting and said it “went really well and we had good discussions.”
She said the community foundation has been a topic of conversations among nonprofits for about a year, and the idea is one that would work well in Kodiak.
The Rasmuson group intends to return to Kodiak Aug. 7-8, and it plans a “very in-depth, nuts and bolts” training session in October to pass on information about running a community foundation.