Putting “Local” Into Our Charitable Giving Activities

Carol Klein needed some advice.

She had just published Painting for Peace in Ferguson, a children’s storybook showcasing the larger than life murals that artists created on boarded-up windows in Ferguson and South Grand in the days that followed civic unrest. The effort represented a moment when ordinary people put community first and demonstrated how remarkable things – like a transformed cityscape – can happen when people reach out across the lines that divide. Carol wanted to preserve these powerful images and use them to illustrate a story of healing and understanding.

The challenge: Carol knew she wanted to direct proceeds from book sales to benefit education, art and social initiatives in the affected areas without creating yet another nonprofit.

She turned to the St. Louis Community Foundation.

“When you start something you’ve never done, it’s essential to have a partner with the expertise, knowledge and understanding to help get you where you want to be – that’s what the St. Louis Community Foundation did for me,” Carol says. “The proceeds went into a charitable-giving fund I set up at the Community Foundation, so that I can now use it to easily and efficiently make contributions to nonprofit organizations that I believe will help guide change and lend a helping hand.”

Working with the Community Foundation helped Carol devote her energies on promoting the book and doing outreach in schools. As a result, the book has been a big success both in the St. Louis region and across the country.

During the process, Community Foundation personnel spent time with Carol. They learned about her book project and the goals she had for the funds raised by it. “Because they are right here in St. Louis, they have a deep and nuanced understanding of the community and the nonprofits that are doing valuable work in education and social justice.”

Shortly after, and because of the focused, personalized service and attention the St. Louis Community Foundation provided to Carol, she and her husband Ward decided to consolidate their philanthropy at the Community Foundation and open a donor advised fund there.

“This ‘local knowledge’ really allows us to be more effective with our charitable contributions, maximize our impact, and exchange ideas with other donors.” Ward says. “Carol and I won’t be around forever, but thanks to the Community Foundation, our donor advised fund will be, and it will continue to fund the education, social justice, and environmental initiatives, as well as other causes we care about here in St. Louis and around the country.”