Councilwoman, Nikki Nice, recording OCCF Podcast, Creating Impact Through Giving

Creating Impact Through Giving

You’re listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation providing you with the stories, techniques and tools around impactful giving. On the show, we’ll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders, and our own in-house experts to identify the charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.

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Episode 25 Transcript: One on One with Trisha Finnegan

Creating Impact Through Giving – Episode 25

Intro – Dan 0:03

You’re listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, providing you with the stories, techniques and tools around impactful giving. On this show, we’ll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders and our own team of experts to identify charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.

Dan 0:29

Hello, I’m Dan Martel and welcome back to Creating Impact Through Giving. We are very excited to have back with us Trisha Finnegan, the president and CEO of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. You met Trisha several months ago when we introduced her as the new head of the foundation, when she moved here from Louisville, Kentucky.

Trisha has been on board for about seven months now, and we thought it would be a good idea to visit with her at this halfway mark to see what kind of things she has discovered about Oklahoma City, the foundation itself, and, more importantly, the needs of our community. So, Trisha, we are delighted to have you back and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today.

Trisha 1:04

Thanks for having me.

Dan 1:06

So, as I mentioned, Trisha, you’ve been in your current position here for several months now and you’ve been able to meet with so, many people across the community and our state. You know, I thought it would be a great idea to take some time today and kind of hear about some of the things that you’ve observed since you’ve been here.

And, I’m just going to jump right in, if that’s okay. And, you know, you’ve been here, you’ve been putting down some roots, which is really exciting. What was your biggest aha moment about Oklahoma City?

Trisha 1:30

Ooh, aha moment. It’s always tough whenever you say the biggest, right? I want to negotiate with you

Dan 1:35

Sure, yeah.

Trisha 1:35

and talk about the top. But I have top two. What I would say is pride of place is so, clear.

You meet folks; doesn’t matter if you’re in line or at a restaurant or at a meeting. The pride of place – people that live here love living here.

Dan 1:52

They do.

Trisha 1:52

I happened to be grabbing a coffee at a meeting this morning, was introduced to someone – again, people very welcoming, always quick to make an introduction – and the gentleman that was speaking said, “there’s nowhere in the world I’d rather live.” Unprompted. You know, so, pride of place, I see that thread just popping up over and over and over.

Dan 2:10


Trisha 2:10

So, that’s come through to me. Not a surprise. It is what I experienced early on, but I’ve continued to see it through and through. And then secondarily, what I would say is there’s a tremendous amount of collaboration going on. You know, I’m running into folks. I’m seeing a lot of people partnering. I’m seeing a lot of people come to the table for discussions.

And so, for me, that sense of connectivity and collaboration is something that I’ve seen, I’ve been really impressed by. And I think there’s always space to lean into further, but I’m really impressed by what I’m seeing so, far.

Dan 2:39

Well, that’s exciting. Great to know. So, if you’re listening to the program right now, you know, you can stand up and be proud of who you are. Absolutely. I agree with you, Trisha. That’s exciting.

So, since you’ve been here in Oklahoma City, you’ve met with all kinds of people across our state, business leaders, government officials, decision makers from all different backgrounds and industry.

What are you hearing from them about the role that the foundation plays in the community?

Trisha 3:02

Most often it’s a personal experience, is what people start with, Dan. You know, much like all of us, it happens to be a personal experience. I had a meeting just earlier this week where someone said, “This is Trisha Finnegan. She’s with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.” The person immediately “the foundation helped us when we were in early days in building an effort at our nonprofit.” Fantastic.

So, often it’s a personal experience that someone has had.

Dan 3:26


Trisha 3:26

Secondarily, I would say the most common thing I hear is that people say, “I’ve had a great experience and I want to see more. I want to see more from the foundation. I want to see you guys in more places or doing more things.”

You know, I tend to be really open and invite feedback from folks when I meet them, and people are quick to say, “Hey, I’ve had a great experience. Can you do more?” So, it’s usually driven by a personal experience is the first and most common.

Dan 3:51


Trisha 3:51

And the second thing is that sense of “you guys do great things. Could you add this in? Could you come to this place? Could you do more?”

Dan 3:58

Of course.

That is a great segue, Trisha, into my next question. As you know, the Foundation, I think, has become such a viable part of our community. And as you’ve been traveling around, in your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges that are facing our community today?

Trisha 4:16

Well, you know, I tend to be a pretty positive person. So, I also like to look at the, you know, things that are opportunities. I like to look at things that are really positive about the community. But the truth is, Dan, we do have some challenges. And, you know, we all know that. If we’re driving to the community or reading the paper or watching the news, and I think it’s important that we discuss them openly.

So, despite being a real positive person, I think it’s fair to admit that we have some opportunities to take a look at.

Dan 4:42

Sure, yeah.

Trisha 4:42

So, I would say the opportunities that are really central right now facing Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas, it’s very easy to start with affordable housing. So, all the way from supporting individuals who are experiencing a lack of housing or individuals who are currently unhoused up to first time homebuyers to maintaining people who’ve been in homes for ten and 20 and 30 years, whose neighborhoods may be changing and they may have increases in expenses or limited resources at retirement age to make home repairs. So, when I talk about affordable housing, I’m talking about it from the full spectrum.

Dan 5:16


Trisha 5:16

And as you see, the growth in Oklahoma City, understanding that quality, affordable housing be available is no surprise, right? You’ve got elderly individuals, you’ve got older adults, you’ve got young families, you’ve got folks who are coming in and affordable housing is important.

Secondary thing that I hear and see a lot is opportunities for workforce. Quality workforce, talented workforce, skilled workforce, living wage jobs.

We’ve got to have the right ability for employers to bring talent in.

Dan 5:46


Trisha 5:46

And so, to have that workforce that is ready and able then to have quality jobs that pay people well so, that they can live good lives. So, sense of, you know, workforce development is key.

The third, I would say, and these are not in any particular order, but access to health care, including mental health care.

So, we know that that’s not equal across the community. We know that in different places, in different parts of the state, even, you know, more rural communities and even across Oklahoma City, the ability to get access to health care, transportation, the ability to see a provider and the ability to get quality help, whether that’s for physical health or mental health, is something that we continue to need. And in fact, that continues to grow in our community. A lot of great data out there on that.

The last thing I would say is quality education. People that are parents, people that have had students in the school system, you know, they all know this firsthand. I am not a parent, and so, I don’t have a child in the school system. But I’ve spent a lot of time with folks, and spent a lot of time looking at education from early childhood through post-secondary. And so, quality access to quality education for as many of our young people as possible is really central. And if you think about it, these four things from affordable housing all the way through quality education, they relate to quality of life, but they’re also all tied to economic impact.

Dan 7:14


Trisha 7:16

And so, in that way, these four issues… Let’s say for me personally, I’m not currently a homeowner. I don’t currently have anyone in the school system. But these issues relate to every single Oklahoman. Every single Oklahoma City resident, because they all tie to our economy and our ability for people to have a quality life. And so, whether you see yourselves in these issues or not, they’re actually relevant to every one of us.

Dan 7:40

Well, I think you’ve cited four incredibly important issues, Trisha, and you’re absolutely right. As Oklahoma City continues to grow, I think it’s one of the fastest growing cities right now in the country. A lot of people are coming here. And you’re right, the lack of workforce is going to be crucial. Education, crucial. Lack of health care – you are absolutely right.

So, on what you just said, what are some of the things that the community foundation can do to help address some of these challenges today?

Trisha 8:07

That’s why we’re here, right? That’s a perfect question. That’s exactly why we’re here, Dan.

Dan 8:08

That’s right. That’s it… Alright, good.

Trisha 8:10

So, I think two things. First of which is, one, that maybe some people look to us for and some maybe not yet, but we have the ability to stay connected. We have, you know, nearly 50 people on staff. We’re connected to civic leaders, business leaders, were connected to nonprofits. And we’re doing site visits, we’re extending, reviewing grant reports all of the time. So, we’re really connected to what’s happening. That ability to draw that information and share it with others in ways that is accessible and meaningful.

You know, rest of the folks are going about leading their day to day lives. They’re running businesses and leading families and doing the things that they’re doing. So, the community foundation can be there to really raise awareness and provide that access and information that we have the beautiful purview to be able to see. We can help other people understand, because – not that, you know, they couldn’t understand on their own, but just simply having the time.

The second is one that I think many people probably don’t know about, but we have certain funds that are open; we call them iFunds. But for example, we have an iFund for access to health care. And we also have an iFund for opportunities for children. What that means is with a credit card in hand or a check that you want to drop in the mail, $10 or $10,000, you can support the most promising opportunities to make a difference in those areas.

So, you’ve got opportunities for children, which means you’ve got out of school time, you’ve got summer camps, you’ve got learning opportunities, you’ve got some great things there.

Access to health care, you have some great opportunities to support people that are not having access to health care now. Those are two funds that we have. However, you know, we don’t have funds for some of the other areas that I mentioned.

So, I think it’s a question to ourselves to say if folks want to make a difference and they want to make a difference in Oklahoma City, but they don’t want to spend the time or go through and do one by one by one review of every nonprofit and every program and every time that there’s a leadership change.

Dan 10:10


Trisha 10:10

If they want to come in and join together with others and they want to say, “Look, I want to join together and add my hundred dollars” or “add my thousand dollars”. Are we giving them opportunities to make a difference in areas that we see as need? And I would say, you know, maybe that’s something that we should consider. I think what we have is great, but maybe we need to do a little bit more.

Dan 10:30

Absolutely. You know, I didn’t realize this, but there are over 900 community foundations in the country. I mean, a lot of people don’t know about that. Why is it important for people to know about the community foundation in their respective communities?

Trisha 10:42

Because each one is unique. Each one shares one thing in common that they are there for the place that they are located and the people who share it. And that’s exactly what the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is. We are here for the entire region and in fact, have programs across the state, as you know, Dan. But we’re here to support Oklahoma and Oklahoma City.

And if someone lives in Tampa, Florida, or Baltimore, Maryland, or anywhere else, they likely have a community foundation in their community that they can work with to invest in what’s around them. When you look out your window and you see the trees and the roads and the schools and the workplaces and everything else, community foundations are here for places and the people who share them. And so, the reason why we have so, many is because there are so, many places. There are about 1800 around the globe. But you’re right, about 900 in the United States. And every single one is based on the place they serve. And I think that’s what makes us really special.

Dan 11:42

You know, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been around for more than 50 years. And what really makes this community foundation stand out from some of the others, perhaps not all, but some of the others? Or do they all pretty much operate the same way?

Trisha 11:58

In the same way that each one is designed to serve the place that they are located and the people who live there. We all do our work somewhat differently. We have some core components that are very similar. We can all do things like accept complex gifts like stock and real estate and art and horses and, you know, things if folks want to make a charitable contribution and they have an asset that is not simply a check. We are a wonderful place to help people make those opportunities come to life.

So, community foundations share that, the ability to help with managing tax and managing asset and managing contributions, we all share that. That’s something that you can get in any community foundation across the country.

What is unique about community foundations and what’s unique about Oklahoma City Community Foundation is the way that we serve the community we are in. What we tend to be most known for are the efforts that we’ve built around supporting and sustaining nonprofits. So, we have a Charitable Organization Endowment program, where we support non-profits in raising funds. But ultimately the impact of that is that our local nonprofits get support checks every year for the work that they’re doing, and that helps make their work sustainable. That’s one thing that we’re known for.

Another thing that we are known for is our scholarship program. We have a very large scholarship program. We have a very strong scholarship program. And in fact, one of the largest, certainly in Oklahoma, but one of the largest in the country. And it is something that many people have come to rely on us for.

Dan 13:26

Absolutely. All good stuff here Trisha, this is exciting. So, I want to just kind of keep the conversation going if you’re okay with that. And I want to kind of talk a little bit about growth. And, you know, we mentioned earlier the growth of Oklahoma City and as you know, as this city continues to grow, do you see more challenges facing the citizens here?

Trisha 13:44

That’s a really thoughtful question, Dan. I’ve been spending some time regionally as well, been spending some time understanding the economies in Texas and the economies across Oklahoma and taking a look at that because, you know, I am new to this region and this is different and we do have really strong growth here. So, I’ve been trying to understand the ways that communities grow.

First of all, it’s a great position to be in. Let me just start there. Let me just start by saying communities that are on the uptick – we are all in a good position. So, it is a wonderful time. And in fact, it was one of the many, many reasons I chose to accept the opportunity and come here was to be part of a growing community, which is exciting for me.

As I enter those conversations, though. As I look at what people are doing, as I look at communities that have grown. One of the things that I’ve started to really explore and I’ve been reading about this and learning about this and being involved with it for a number of years but have really taken a new light on it is the sense of right sized growth, sustainable growth, inclusive growth.

So, growth for growths sake, to my mind, isn’t necessarily the goal. It’s “what is healthy growth?” Where can we draw in jobs that are paying people well, where can we attract people and bring them into the community and include them? And so, the sense of how you’re creating growth that is additive to the city, that is bringing people in, that is encouraging people to take part and become part of the civic fabric

Dan 15:13


Trisha 15:13

of this community versus just the growth number for growths sake, right? Everybody knows the stories of the cities, and I won’t name them, but the stories of the cities, you know, who’ve maybe grown a little too fast or their infrastructure hasn’t kept up with their growth or their housing costs have far outpaced and now people are displaced. And so, for me, growth is exciting. It is one of the many reasons that I get excited about the role that Oklahoma City Community Foundation can play.

And at the same time, I don’t hold in mind sort of a sense of growth at all costs or all growth. What I see people stepping up toward is the sense of sustainable growth, healthy growth, inclusive growth. And that matters more to me.

Dan 15:53

Absolutely. I want to kind of switch it up a little bit here, Trisha, and kind of talk about the future of the foundation. So, you know, you’ve been here for several months. It’s hard to believe it’s coming up on a year in a few months, it’s crazy. It goes fast!

Trisha 16:05

I know. I know right, it does!

Dan 16:07

We’re having a good time.

What level of growth would you hope to see for the Community Foundation maybe over the next five years? And are there other ways that you see the Community Foundation helping meet some of the community’s needs as we continue to move forward?

Trisha 16:22

Absolutely. Any organization needs to be looking at growth and we are in fact growing and we will continue to grow. I actually look a lot at growth in impact.

Dan 16:30


Trisha 16:31

So, what about the funds that we’re getting out?

Dan 16:33


Trisha 16:34

What about the funds that we’re drawing in? What about the new things that we’re doing? One of the most exciting areas that I have continued to see growth, and I’m going to make a prediction that I think we’re going to see even more is growth in something that you and I have spoken about and that you’ve spoken about on the pod before.

It’s growth in scholarship. So, we all know that education is important. We know that it’s not all always a four-year degree. Sometimes it’s a certification, sometimes it’s a career tech opportunity, sometimes it’s an advanced degree, sometimes it’s a master’s or a Ph.D. Education is… The opportunities are wide, and we know that costs are prohibitive. We know that many, many people are interested in changing careers or a second or third career that they might need a certification for.

So, we had seen a number of donors coming in and saying, I see a need here. I’d love to support education and I’d love to make scholarships and scholarship opportunities available. I think with the cost of education and those, the kind of that pressure that I described earlier around workforce and quality jobs and people having the ability to reach those and fill those workforce needs. I’m going to say, Dan, I think one of our large areas of growth is going to continue to be to build out and continue to diversify and expand the ways that we can support education in this community through scholarship.

And I think that will look like some four-year degrees. But I think it will also look like micro certifications and certifications in some of the career tech programs. I think we’re going to continue to see growth. And I think one of the areas that will see it is support for education through scholarship.

Dan 18:15

That’s interesting because I know that, you know, our state, Oklahoma has a pretty, pretty robust career tech program here. And it really you’re starting to hear more and more of it. So, it’s exciting that you’re kind of talking like that.

In terms of getting there, what kind of hurdles do you see the Community Foundation having into the future?

Trisha 18:34

Well, I mean, we’re a nonprofit, obviously, so, we’ve got to watch our bottom line and we’ve got to be efficient in our resources, as you know. I’d say there’s actually one most common hurdle. In fact, it’s actually a pretty tricky one. The most significant hurdle is people not only knowing about us, but understanding what we do.

Dan 18:54


Trisha 18:55

You’re not surprised by that.

Dan 18:56

No, not at all.

Trisha 18:57

You’re vice president of communications, right?

Dan 18:58

That’s right.

Trisha 18:58

You know that. You know that it’s… that’s a difficult piece. But what’s challenging, particularly about that, is more often than not, people will say, if I introduce myself or I’m introduced, people will say, oh, you know, either “I haven’t heard of OCCF” or “I’ve heard of OCCF.” But then when I ask them a little bit more – they don’t usually volunteer it –but if I ask them a little bit more, they may say, “you know, I’m not really sure what you do.” And so, the tricky thing about that is oftentimes people won’t volunteer it. So, you don’t know that and you don’t know what you’re working with.

Dan 19:31


Trisha 19:32

But the thing about people not knowing is if people don’t know about Oklahoma City Community Foundation or what we do, then that means they don’t know how we can help.

So, the biggest hurdle that we have is awareness and not just awareness of the organization, but awareness of how we are relevant to what you might care about as an individual citizen, as a business leader, as a family member. And so, whether you’re making decisions in the community about how you invest your charitable dollars or whether you’re making decisions about a nonprofit to support with sponsorship, etc., you may not be making a connection to how OCCF can be a partner to you.

And I, I’d say that awareness, visibility and understanding is our biggest hurdle because we can’t do more unless people come and allow us the opportunity.

Dan 20:13

Sure. I agree, yeah.


You know, one of the things that we’ve talked about before, Trisha, not so much on the podcast, but right now we truly are seeing a huge shift in the transition of wealth. And it’s probably happening all over the country and it is happening here as well. What does that mean when it comes to attracting, you know, future donors or people that want to take interest in their community? And what does that mean to the foundation?

Trisha 20:42

There is absolutely a large transition of wealth, and that’s we’re still on the front side of that, Dan, so, we’re going to continue to see that over time. When folks come to us, we see two things most commonly. One is they’re engaging multiple generations. So, it’s the sense of two, three, even four generations talking about what they care about as a family, the impact they want to create as a family and recognizing that the community foundation is a unique place where they can all work together.

So, that’s one thing that we see in the sense of transfer of wealth. The other thing is, we know that donors who are coming to us, whether it’s wealth that they’ve created or wealth that’s being transferred to them from a previous generation, we’re seeing two things. One is they want to know the impact that their gifts are making. That’s the first most common thing.

So, how are we doing the best job of making sure that people have an understanding the money goes out the door – that’s happening. But how are we doing a good job of making sure they understand what their money provided? And then secondarily, people also want to know that we’re managing our assets and their funds efficiently.

So, how are we making it possible for them to do more? But how are we doing it in the way that is really cost effective for them? And those are the two most common things we’re seeing as folks come through the door. Again, whether they build their own wealth or whether that’s wealth that they may be receiving from a previous generation.

Dan 22:14

I’m going to completely go off on this one, Trisha. And you know, you’ve been talking so much about what the foundation does and the importance and the relevance of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation in this community. What kind of things do you like to do outside of the workplace that really help you as a leader? What do you like to do? What really get your mojo going?

Trisha 22:35

Well, I’m a big walker, Dan. I love to walk the city. We’ll often go to different parts of the city, park the car and walk around, check out a restaurant, check out a bookstore, walk around, talk to folks. And so, I do a lot of exploring on foot and, in fact, talked to a lot of people. I’m willing to talk to – even though, you know, I don’t know where you would peg me on the introvert-extrovert scale, but I’m actually more of an introvert. But I see it as a really great opportunity when I’m out and about to ask people how they are. Ask people about their neighborhood. Ask people about how they spend their time.

So, I’ve done a lot of exploring on foot. I’ve covered a lot of Oklahoma City by foot, which for the square miles that we have here is not an easy thing to do. I’ve done a lot of that in my free time and it’s been a great thing.

Dan 23:17

Any last-minute comments that you’d like to leave with us today? Any last thoughts? Words of wisdom.

Trisha 23:23

I always want to end with a last comment. First, I’ll say thank you to you and the team for having me on and for the work that you do; we really appreciate that. I’ll say a couple of things. I had the opportunity to speak to a group last week and talk to them about some of the same thing that you asked me about. What are the challenges? What are the opportunities? What are the needs?

In that conversation, I referenced some information I was exposed to by participating in OKC Connect, which is a tremendous program that the Chamber and Leadership Oklahoma City have put on. Recommend that to anybody.

What I learned through that and through the individuals that lead the work at Oklahoma City Public Schools is that 92% of Oklahoma City public school students are at or below the poverty line. Their families are at or below the poverty line. Now, 92%.

Dan 24:15

That’s staggering.

Trisha 24:17

It still makes a catch.

Dan 24:19


Trisha 24:19

For those of you… it still creates a catch in my throat when I say that. And I paused and I started to think through that. I’ve lived and worked in a number of communities and that number is really high.

Dan 24:31

It’s very high.

Trisha 24:31

So, 92% of OKCPS students are living in families that are at or below the poverty line. So, as I talked through that with the wonderful group of people that I had the chance to speak with, I saw people’s body language shift, I saw people’s face shift. And I talked about some of the ways that we as a community can help make that support. But what it led me to was encouraging people to not be on the sidelines.

So, when you see a number like that, when you drive down the street and you see a need or you see a number like that, for many people, it’s human to almost pull back. It’s like, gosh, if it’s that hard, what difference can I make?

And what I ended up talking about in that moment, you know, you see people’s faces, you see people’s body language, and you- you’re able to react in the moment. And what I said in the moment is “don’t be discouraged. We have to get in and brought about together. We have to get in and pull the rope together.” So, if anything, if you see a staggering, you know, statistic or number or you see something that feels like it makes you a little bit sad, then don’t opt out. Don’t be on the sideline.

Every hour of volunteerism, every gift, financials, you know, pulling together and doing things with other people, that’s the way we get out of it. And so, that sense of, you know, my last comment would be the same last comments that I shared last week, which are “there is a lot.” Challenge, if you want to call it a challenge. Opportunity, if you want to call it opportunity.

But the truth is the only way that we will have our very best community is if every single one of us who are willing joins in, in whatever way you can. And so, my last comments would be, as we talk about challenges, we talk about growth, as we talk about the future. I would encourage people to find the way that makes sense for them to not be on the sidelines.

And if you’re already in the arena, so to speak, for those of you who are familiar with that, then bring someone else in with you.

Dan 26:39

You know, it’s funny, I love the way you say that. And it’s one of the things that if you if people are out there and they’ve seen any of our awareness ads out there, the educational stuff that we’re putting out there, when we say if you truly want to make a difference in your community, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation can help you make that happen.

And that is so true. That is so true.

Trisha 26:59

That’s why we’re here.

Dan 27:00

You know, one of the significant advantages of working with the Community Foundation is that people can actually talk with one of our experts within the organization. What’s the best way for people to get in touch with us here, Trisha?

Trisha 27:11

We often find that our website is a great starting point for people – – and a lot of information on there, but we also have everyone’s contact information. We’ve got phone numbers and emails and we describe who works on what. And so, that’s our front door, if you will. The website. That’s a great place to start. It’s a great place to learn about where we are and what we’re doing.

It also has events on there, so, we may have an upcoming event that you may want to join us at.

Dan 27:33


Trisha 27:34

So, that’s a great easy way to start. But other than that, pick up the phone. Pick up the phone and give us a call and we’ll be sure to get you to the right person.

Dan 27:41

Absolutely. That’s fantastic. So, Trisha Finnegan, President and CEO of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Thank you for being our guest today and sharing your insights with our audience. We appreciate you being here and encourage you to keep pushing the foundation forward; you’re doing wonderful things. The work you and your staff are doing on behalf of our donors impacts our community in so many positive ways.

And after 53 years, it’s hard to imagine what OKC would be without the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Thank you again for being here.

Trisha 28:10

Thank you. It’s a pleasure. And I want to say thank you to everyone who’s welcomed me so, graciously in the Oklahoma City. It’s an honor to be here with you.

Dan 28:16

Thank you.

Dan 28:19

That about wraps it up for us today. We sure enjoyed having you take a listen to Creating Impact Through Giving. If you want to find out more on how you can make a difference in your community, please reach out. Get in touch with us here at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Trisha and her team can make that happen and guide you where you need to be.

Join us again next month as we dive into the subject of charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder gifts. The foundation’s own Joe Carter will be here and perhaps a special guest or two. And we know you won’t want to miss it. I want to thank Trisha Finnegan again for being on the podcast today. And until next time, I’m Dan Martel and we hope you join us next month on Creating Impact Through Giving, have a great day.

Outro – Dan 29:00

Creating Impact Through Giving is brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, a nonprofit that works with donors to create charitable funds that benefit our community, both now and in the future. For all episodes and more information, visit

Thanks for listening today, and I’d like to leave you with this:

Everybody wants to create some kind of impact in your community. What would you like to do? Contact the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and let us help you turn your legacy into a reality, today. See you next time.

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Episode 24 Transcript: The Alphabet Soup of IRAs

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 24: The Alphabet Soup of IRAs

Dan Martel 00:28

Many donors today who wish to contribute to their favorite charities can do so by withdrawing money from their IRAs. A lot of people didn’t know that could happen. This is known through something called a QCD or a Qualified Charitable Distribution. Hello there, I’m Dan Martel, and welcome back to our monthly podcast, Creating Impact Through Giving, which is brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Today, we’ll be speaking with Julie Dais, the director of advisor partnerships and planned giving here at the Foundation, Laura Moon, who works in donor services and development, and Richard Opdyke, a longtime donor with the Foundation who has contributed to his favorite charities using a QCD. Our first guests today are Julie Dais and Laura Moon of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Welcome to the podcast.

Julie Dais 01:16

Hi, Dan. We’re glad to be here.

Dan Martel 01:18

Well, I’m glad you guys are here. Thank you for being here. So, I want to get into this whole discussion about, qualified charitable distributions, kind of what is, what a QCD is.

Julie Dais 01:28

A lot of people know it as an IRA rollover.

Dan Martel 01:30


Julie Dais 01:30

So, like you hear that terminology, but a qualified charitable distribution is a distribution out of your IRA that goes directly to a charity. So, that’s exactly what it is.

Dan Martel 01:41

Excellent. Well, I’m glad to know, and I know there’s a lot of people out there that had no idea that could be done. So, let’s talk a little bit about that. So, Julie, since I’m on with you right now, what are some of the advantages a donor can receive by making contributions through a QCD?

Julie Dais 01:54

So, when a donor or an individual gets to 70 ½, they can look at their IRA and go, you know, I may have some either a, an eventual taxable estate, or I might want to assist charity. So, one thing that they can do, they can take money, a distribution from their IRA, a qualified IRA, and they can distribute it to a charity. One benefit of that is it will reduce the size of that IRA, which would reduce the size of a taxable estate. Maybe not so much, but it might help. But once you get to be 73, which is this year that the new law is 73, when you are required to do a required minimum distribution, when you pull that money out of the IRA, that is part of your income and that is reported on taxes. Let’s say you have other income that’s coming in and you go, oh my goodness, I’ve got to take that $10,000 IRA, that’s really going to possibly pop me up into another tax bracket.

Dan Martel 02:53

That’s right.

Julie Dais 02:54

So, they take the money, and they give it to a charity. It is not a deduction, but it allows that charity to use the full value of that. The individual does not get a tax deduction, but it does not go on their taxes. And that to me, you know, it’s a way that you can be charitable but then also have some benefit tax-wise.

Dan Martel 03:15

Julie, I want to stay a little bit on that, that same topic. So, you’re saying that there is a minimum at the age of 73, the person that holds the IRA is forced to have to make some kind of a distribution?

Julie Dais 03:29

That is, that is correct. Because for all, you know, their working life, they’ve put funds in this for this very reason – when they’ve retired and they need that extra income to, you know, maybe fill out so, you know, social security or whatever. But sometimes they have additional income streams that they didn’t think about when they were younger. And so, they start looking at this required minimum distribution almost with a little bit of dread. They think, oh my goodness, what am I going to do with that? That’s going to put me in another tax bracket. Or I, you know, I really don’t want to use that money right now. I don’t need that money right now. This is a great way they can use the money and they can benefit the charities they love.

Dan Martel 04:07 Laura, are you finding more and more donors looking at, at this type of situation to make some kind of a charitable distribution?

Laura Moon 04:16

Yeah, most definitely. As was being said earlier, most people don’t even realize maybe that you have to take a required minimum distribution or that there’s even a qualified charity distribution option to kind of replace that income that you’re required to take. But once, once a donor figures out about it, you find that year over year, they come to rely on that qualified charity distribution to kind of bypass that income and support a charity that they really care about.

Dan Martel 04:45

Excellent. Well, how does a QCD differ from a typical IRA withdrawal?

Julie Dais 04:50

So, you have to be careful. So, let’s say you go, oh, I have to take my RMD is $10,000 this year, I’m going to take it as a distribution and I’m going to give it to the charity. DO NOT DO THAT! Do not do that because, because you’ve withdrawn it, now that’s taxable income, even though you gave it to the charity, you know, after the fact. So, the qualified charitable distribution is, may not be all of your RMD. You have to work with your IRA holder, your financial advisor. You know, there’s a lot out there. They understand this process and they can answer a lot of those questions like, when do I do that? And that is, timing is crucial. You need to be able to do it by the end of the year.

Dan Martel 05:33

So, you have to itemize it when you use a QCD.

Julie Dais 05:35

No, you do not. You do not itemize.

Dan Martel 05:36

You do not. Oh, okay.

Julie Dais 05:36

So, remember, remember this is the money that is the RMD is coming in as income. So, when it goes straight to the charity, you can’t touch it. When it goes straight to the charity, it doesn’t even show up on your taxes at all.

Dan Martel 05:51

Got it. Got it.

Julie Dais 05:51

So, you don’t even have to itemize to benefit from this particular strategy.

Dan Martel 05:54

You know, I know that people start IRAs at various times throughout their lives and in various phases of their careers, but my understanding is that you have to be a certain age before you can, can become eligible for a QCD. And you had mentioned that 70 ½, is that…

Julie Dais 06:10

70 ½.

Dan Martel 06:10

Is that a recent deal, or is that been around for a while?

Julie Dais 06:13

That has been around for a while. What has changed with the new law that was signed by Biden, that increased the required minimum distribution to be taken from 72 to 73. So that is the one big change. There are other changes, like they’ve shortened the window if you have an inherited IRA, and there’s conversations about split interest gifts, which probably is another podcast.

Dan Martel 06:36

So why is that, why is there an age restriction on this if somebody’s 69 couldn’t do something like this? Why is that?

Julie Dias 06:42

Laura and I will be glad to discuss with you the wisdom of the US government and the IRS services.

Dan Martel 06:49


Julie Dias 06:50

What do you think Laura?

Laura Moon 06:51

I think that’s an excellent point. I think that’s a great, maybe that’s another whole podcast episode we’ve got relying.

Dan Martel 06:56

So, there really isn’t any set rule then, it’s just, that’s just the way that the, the Feds decided to, to make it correct.

Julie Dais 07:00


Dan Martel 07:00

Interesting. And is there a maximum annual amount that you can qualify for a QCD?

Julie Dais 07:06


Dan Martel 07:06

What is that?

Julie Dais 07:07

So, the maximum that you can utilize for a QCD is $100,000. I don’t think there’s a minimum. Is there, Laura?

Laura Moon 07:13

Huh-hmm. No.

Julie Dais 07:13


Dan Martel 07:13

So, let me ask you this. Let’s say when it comes to tax reporting, how, how does this work with a QCD? Would it be just a normal distribution on an IRS form? How does that work?

Laura Moon 07:25

So, the QCD, whenever you take a QCD, it’s reported by your IRA custodian as a normal distribution on your IRS form 1099-R. So, it’s going to look normal. But again, you’re getting to bypass that income that you would have to take with your required minimum distribution from your IRA. So your IRA custodian will take care of it on your, for the IRS form. And it just looks kind of like a normal distribution, but it’s a qualified charitable distribution.

Dan Martel 07:52

You know, so, you know, it’s interesting. I hear things that, you know, this is something that could be a, a great tax benefit. Is that true?

Julie Dais 07:58

Well, it is. If you’re reducing your taxable income by that fund bypassing your, your income stream. You know, so in that essence it is. And your, to me, the biggest benefit is helping a charity that you love.

Dan Martel 08:10


Julie Dais 08:11

That true. That, that’s what makes me happy.

Dan Martel 08:13

And is that is that the reason that people come to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to speak with you and your team about things like that?

Julie Dais 08:20

How they can make a difference. That’s what it’s all about, and it’s what they want to do. I know Laura has lots of stories about those donors that have come to her and said, “Hey, I would like to do this.” I know that there are, so be careful when you start talking about a qualified charitable distribution because there are requirements.

Laura Moon 08:37


Julie Dais 08:37

And that’s why you really need to talk to your financial advisor, your accountant, and then talk to one of us at OCCF.

Laura Moon 08:43

As Julie said, it’s…

Julie Dais 08:44


Laura Moon 08:44

There are, I mean, you, we have to meet whatever requirements the IRS puts on, you know, distributing to charities. So, it has to go to a 501(c)(3).

Dan Martel 08:55

Ah, good. Okay.

Laura Moon 08:56

Public charity.

Dan Martel 08:56

That’s good to know. All right.

Julie Dais 08:57


Laura Moon 08:57

So, it can’t go to a private foundation.

Dan Martel 08:59


Laura Moon 08:59

You’ve got your family foundation. That wouldn’t qualify because that’s not a public charity.

Dan Martel 09:05

Churches or anything like that.

Laura Moon 09:06

Yep. Those,

Dan Martel 09:07

Those don’t count

Laura Moon 09:07

Churches do count.

Dan Martel 09:09

They do count, okay.

Laura Moon 09:09

Because in the, in the IRS’s eyes, those are 501(c)(3) public charities, whether or not they have to file, um, with the IRS.

Dan Martel 09:16

Got it. Ah, interesting. Okay.

Laura Moon 09:17

A public, a local public school a donor-advised fund isn’t allowed to receive those, but a donor-designated fund, which we also hold and distribute from at the OCCF, are allowed to receive those distributions.

Dan Martel 09:31

All right. So yeah, definitely some restrictions and some rules that you need to know about before you decide, “Hey, I’m going to, I want to pull some money out of my IRA.” So, you’ve got to do a little bit of research if you’re interested in doing that. But I mean, just imagine the impact that one can make if, if they are allowed to do that, which is kind of cool. Later in, in, in this podcast, we’re going to be speaking to one of the donors at OCCF, Mr. Richard Opdyke.

Julie Dais 09:54


Dan Martel 09:54

You know, Richard.

Julie Dais 09:55


Dan Martel 09:55

And I know that he set up something like this. Tell me a little bit about what he did.

Julie Dais 10:00

Now, Laura, this might have been before my time. Did you work with him?

Laura Moon 10:03

No, that would’ve actually been Megan Hornbeek. Our, our scholarship department is able to establish scholarships that can receive qualified charitable distributions easily because there is no advisement for a scholarship fund. We also have a number of other funds that are like that. So, if it isn’t a specific charity that you want to support directly with cash in hand, if maybe you want to support their endowment or a scholarship fund, those can also receive qualified charitable distributions a little bit more straightforward, And we have a great scholarship team that can work with you and decide what type of student you want to support for that scholarship.

Dan Martel 10:40

How popular are QCDs?

Julie Dais 10:42

Well, obviously we, this is a topic that comes up quite a bit. So, I asked Joe Carter, my boss, the other day; he is actually seeing that the use of the QCD grow in terms of that philanthropy. So, it is a very popular mechanism.

Dan Martel 10:59

Excellent. Well, that’s good to know.

Julie Dais 11:00

One thing that I wish advisors knew, a lot of them don’t realize the impact of how a QCD can reduce that taxable estate and the high taxed aspect of an IRA. So, I wish advisors knew how much of an impact that they could make when they work with their client and they work with us and the influence that they have.

Dan Martel 11:24

So, let me ask, let’s say I’ve got $500,000 in an IRA.

Julie Dais 11:29


Dan Martel 11:29

And let’s say I decide, all right, I’m going to be 70 ½ in two months, so I’ve got $500,000 sitting in my, is it, could it be either a, a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA? Does it matter?

Julie Dais 11:42

Well, Roth has already had, it’s been, it’s pre-tax. It’s a qualified plan. All right. And I know that there are different requirements for a 401B. So, you do need to check with your advisor on that. I’m talking traditional IRA.

Dan Martel 11:53

All right. So, let’s talk about that.

Julie Dais 11:54


Dan Martel 11:54

I have $500,000, if I’m a donor in my traditional IRA, and I’m about to be 70 ½, and there’s a favorite charity here in Oklahoma City that I’m interested in, in supporting.

Julie Dais 12:05


Dan Martel 12:05

And I decide to go to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and say, “Hey, I’m really looking forward to making a contribution.” How does that process work?

Laura Moon 12:14

The way that we would set up a fund that can distribute those qualified charitable distributions is that we would get with you, figure out how you want to support that charity. Perhaps you want to send $10,000, but you don’t want to send $10,000 all at once, and you want to send it, you know, $2,500 at a time. We’d get with you. Figure out how you want to distribute those funds if it’s every six months, if it’s quarterly, and for whatever program that you want to support at that charity. Alternatively, if you want to support that charity’s endowment, we have over 390 local nonprofit endowment funds that we hold. So, you can maybe distribute directly into their endowment fund. Alternatively, if it’s a cause that you’re more concerned about,

Dan Martel 12:52

Absolutely. Sure.

Laura Moon 12:52

You could support one of our iFunds. We have a number of iFunds that support causes around the Oklahoma City community. So, you can use those QCDs by partnering with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation in a number of different ways to support charities and local efforts.

Dan Martel 13:08

Good to know. Well, I’m… Listen, you guys have been really, really helpful and have, I guess given our, our listeners some really valuable tips on, on how they can make an impact in the community by using something called a QCD, Qualified Charitable Distribution, I want to thank both you, Julie Dais, and you, Laura Moon, of the Community Foundation here in Oklahoma City for being on the podcast today. What’s the best way for somebody to get in touch with one of your staff here at OCCF?

Laura Moon 13:37

You can get in contact with us online at, or you can call us at our main number, (405) 235-5603.

Dan Martel 13:46

Excellent. All right. Well, listen, I think that you guys have given us some incredible information on qualified charitable distributions. And we really appreciate your insight. Thanks for being here.

Laura Moon 13:57

Yeah, of course. Thank you.

Julie Dais 13:57

Thank you for having us.

Dan Martel 14:00

Our next guest is Richard Opdyke. Mr. Opdyke is a longtime donor who has taken advantage of making QCDs, and we’d like to get his thoughts on why he likes to support his favorite charities this way. Richard Opdyke, welcome to Creating Impact Through Giving.

Richard Opdyke 14:13

Well, thank you.

Dan Martel 14:14

So, first thing I want to do Mr. Dyke is, is ask you, how did you learn about qualified charitable distributions? What, what, how did that come to be?

Richard Opdyke 14:23

Well, we met with a financial advisor. My wife and I were trying to get ready for retirement, and we got a hold of a financial advisor. And my wife was interested in giving something back. She was an RN, and she was thinking about maybe starting a scholarship. Well, we didn’t know anything about how to do this. Anyway, the financial advisor intro introduced us to Joe Carter. He came up and he set out a program on what the Foundation does and how could, how we, it would affect us.

Dan Martel 14:59

Sure. Absolutely. What attracted you then to decide to support your favorite charities by making a qualified charitable distribution?

Richard Opdyke 15:06

Well, as I said my wife wanted to give back. And the program as outlined by Joe was exactly what she was looking for. And so, we talked about setting something up. However, it never got around to it because my wife passed, and probably about two or three months after her passing, I was thinking to myself, you know, I need to get started on this. And that’s how I got involved in using the Foundation to set up the scholarship.

Dan Martel 15:39


Richard Opdyke 15:39

And they were very, they were very, very helpful in doing this.

Dan Martel 15:42

Fantastic. You know, one of the things that I’m getting from you guys is that you, you like to give back. You guys are the type that like to give back to the community and, and make things happen. And I, let’s talk a little bit about that. Why, why is that?

Richard Opdyke 15:53

Well, she wanted to give back because one, when she went to nursing school, she was on a scholarship. And so, she decided that, you know, it happened to me, I want to pay it back. Well, after her passing, I decided that, you know, it’s time to get off my, my butt and get something done cuz I promised her

Dan Martel 16:14


Richard Opdyke 16:14

That we would do something. And so, I initially started with two nursing scholarships, and that was from the first RMD both from her and my retirement account. And that’s how we got started. And as I say, the Foundation has really helped us along, guiding us on what would work and what wouldn’t.

Dan Martel 16:35

That is outstanding. What’s the name of the scholarship? That…

Richard Opdyke 16:38

It’s the Laurene Ann Opdyke Nursing Scholarship.

Dan Martel 16:42

Okay. And this is for future nurses out there.

Richard Opdyke 16:45

It’s for future nurses. It’s pretty broad in that we didn’t put a lot, I didn’t put a lot of, of requirements onto, onto the scholarship. One, you had to have a 3.0 average. You had to write a, an essay on why you wanted to be a nurse.

Dan Martel 17:04


Richard Opdyke 17:05

And the third restriction was juniors or seniors. Cause I figured as a freshman or sophomore you weren’t really committed.

Dan Martel 17:15

Absolutely. That’s right. Yeah.

Richard Opdyke 17:15

So, so anyway, the other thing was that there was no requirement on resident state residency and no requirement on where to go to school. So, you could, you could be a resident of Florida and go to school in Montana.

Dan Martel 17:30

Got it. All right. So, it’s a little broad and, and this is fantastic. So, and you were able to do all of this with funds from your retirement account, correct?

Richard Opdyke 17:39

That is correct.

Dan Martel 17:40

That’s, that’s a, a great way to do things and a great way to open up opportunities for people and give back, as you said earlier. You know, I know you worked with Joe Carter and some of his team through your professional advisor. How has that experience been Mr. Opdyke working with the Foundation and, and tell me how that that process went?

Richard Opdyke 17:59

Well, I can just sum it up in one word.

Dan Martel 18:00


Richard Opdyke 18:01

Extremely positive. Anything that I wanted to do, somebody would listen. And if it could be done, it was, it was done.

Dan Martel 18:08

And so, you started this after your wife passed. And this thing has been going strong ever since. How’s it working?

Richard Opdyke 18:16

Excellent. Excellent. I have no complaints. As I say that anytime I call down here, I get nothing but positive feedback and if I have any questions, everything is just answered to more than my satisfaction.

Dan Martel 18:31

Excellent. I was going to ask you, before you actually, you set this up, did you have any idea that you could actually take funds from your IRA and, and, and turn this into something?

Richard Opdyke 18:41

Yes, I did.

Dan Martel 18:42


Richard Opdyke 18:42

I knew that prior to. Our thing, my thing and my wife, when we were talking about this is just how to do it. We knew that we could do it, but we were trying to decide where the money would go.

Dan Martel 18:54

Okay. Anything else about other charities that you might be interested in or do you want to continue to focus in on this nursing scholarship?

Richard Opdyke 19:03

Well, right now, I’d just like to concentrate on the nursing scholarship just to make sure that it’s successful and the people that enroll in this are successful.

Dan Martel 19:11

Well, it sounds like you’ve been a, a mentor to a lot of people, and it’s kind of one of those angel deals where a lot of people get this scholarship. They may not even know who you are. . Exactly. This is Mr. Opdyke. If you can’t see it is doing some angel wings for us right now. But man, we really appreciate you spending some time with us really talking about your experiences making qualified charitable distributions through your IRA. Man, we really appreciate you Mr. Opdyke, being on our podcast today. Thanks for being here.

Richard Opdyke 19:40

Sure. My pleasure.

Dan Martel 19:42

Well, that about wraps it up for us today. I want to thank all of you for listening, and we hope that we were able to bring some new light to this unique way of giving to your favorite charity by making a qualified charitable distribution through your IRA. Next month, join us again and we’re going to have a special one-on-one conversation with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation’s new CEO, Trisha Finnegan. You know, Trisha has now been with the Foundation for a little over six months, and we’d like to share some information with you on what she has learned about our community, how she’ll continue to move the Community Foundation in a new direction and the exciting and rewarding things that are happening all around us.

I’d like to thank Julie Dais and Laura Moon of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for being our guests today as well as Mr. Richard Opdyke, one of our very generous donors to the Foundation. And until then, I’m Dan Martel. We’ll see you again on Creating Impact Through Giving.

Episode 22 Transcript: 'Tis the Season for Year-End Giving

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 22: ‘Tis the Season for Year-End Giving

Dan 0:29

You know, when I moved to this part of the country, I was told that the people living here in Oklahoma were truly the salt of the earth. They were generous, they were giving, and I have to tell you that after being here for 25 plus years, I still find that to be quite true even today. And that’s what our podcast is about today. It’s giving back to our community and to the causes that we all love.

Hi, I’m Dan Martel, and I want to welcome you back to our monthly podcast, Creating Impact Through Giving, which is brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Well, it’s that time of year again when our emails, our mailboxes at home and our texts light up from organizations looking for a little help.

It’s the season of giving, and what better time than now to look around you, count your blessings and consider donating to your favorite charity or nonprofit? You know, many of us have a cause that we are passionate about, and the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been helping donors for years with their year-end giving gifts, and they can help you too.

Today we’re going to be talking with Joe Carter, the vice president of development with the Foundation, and Joe will give us some perspective on how the Community Foundation can help guide individuals just like you when it comes to your year-end charitable giving. We’ll also be speaking to Ron Ward. Ron owns Ward Construction in Oklahoma, a full service commercial general contractor and construction management company. Ron has been serving Oklahoma City in the surrounding areas for 40 years. We’ll ask Ron about his connection to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and what his thoughts are on giving back to the community. So let’s bring our first guest in, Joe Carter. Joe, welcome back to Creating Impact and Giving.

Joe 2:02

Thanks, Dan. Happy to be here.

Dan 2:04

Joe, it’s that time of year when many of the people that you all work with here at the Foundation work directly with you and they’re thinking about year-end giving. I want to talk a little bit about how folks are, are giving and why it’s important.

So, we know that Giving Tuesday has come and gone. It started back in 2012 and it’s become quite a phenomenon. And although we’ve kind of got past that, I know that there’s still plenty of time to consider making year-end gifts. Are there tools that you all work with here at the Foundation when it comes to year-end giving and other methods like that?

Joe 2:37

Sure. I mean, the thing about charitable giving is, it is the season right now, usually beginning Thanksgiving to December when a lot of the charities are doing appeal letters asking for year-end giving. And a lot of times it’s on the top of mind. It’s just become a custom, if you will, people thinking about charitable deductions and tax deductions at year-end.

And so what we do a lot here at the Foundation is, oftentimes especially some of those that have tax situations or what have you, we do donor-advised funds, and so their accountant, their tax attorney, or some of their advisors may have told them it’s that time of year. You’ve got a lot of capital gains and appreciated stocks. You’ve got, you know, opportunities that are out there and it’s such a short period of time that they’re like, well, yeah, I’d like to do something charitable, but I just don’t know what charity to give it to right now. So a donor-advised fund is actually a fantastic tool, and that’s what we work with a lot of donors here this time of the year especially, is people that come in and make a year-end gift to a donor-advised fund, get their immediate charitable deduction and then that gives the, allows them or affords them an opportunity to make gifts or grants to charities…

Dan 3:56


Joe 3:57

Into the future at some point in time.

Dan 3:59

So, with a donor-advised fund, I know you guys call them DAFs, so we’ll, we’ll refer to it as a DAF. So, with one of these DAFs, can you bundle several years of giving, let’s say, into maybe a single tax year?

Joe 4:10

And that’s exactly the strategy. I mean, once the standardized deduction went to, you know, $12,000 per person and it took a lot of people out of the itemizing, then there were several people that would do charitable giving. But unfortunately, if they weren’t itemizing, you know, they may have given away $15,000 a year traditionally, but they didn’t have any other things to itemize, and now all of a sudden, they don’t really get any charitable deduction for that. So, using a DAF to put maybe two or three or four years of gifts into one year, then they can get a large charitable deduction that year. And then, in subsequent years, they can make the grants out to charity, but they can go back to using the standardized deduction. And then, once the donor-advised fund gets low enough, they can just re-ante or take advantage of itemizing again, and then going back to the standard deduction for the next few years.

Dan 5:03

I know this time of year, you know, people tend to get a little bit creative and I know that we sort of can help them here at the Foundation get really creative as well. So, I want to know, you know, we know that folks can also perhaps use an IRA o of sorts to make a charitable distribution. Is that correct? And how does that actually work?

Joe 5:22

Yeah, so, prior to the SECURE Act, uh, the rules were when somebody has a traditional IRA, they’re required to take a minimum distribution out of that at age 70 and a half. So back in 2006, a law was changed that allowed you to gift up to a hundred thousand dollars per person in a household to give money directly from your IRA to charity, and you would not have to include that on your taxable income. So, it was a great opportunity to use retirement dollars for charitable purposes. Otherwise, if you took ownership of that distribution, you would’ve to pay tax on it. The SECURE Act that passed a couple of years ago raised the level of RMD up to 72. However, they left the IRA rule or the charitable rollover rule intact. So at 70 and a half, you can still make gifts out of your IRA at 70 and a half, even though you’re not required to take a minimum distribution until 72.

Dan 6:21

Ah, interesting. That’s fascinating. I know right now, you know, if you think about the economy, we’ve really been experiencing some of the worst inflation in more than 40 years. A lot of people are having a hard time releasing their cash. So, if somebody comes to you, Joe, and they say, hey, I want to make a gift through stocks, or something in that realm, is that all doable?

Joe 6:41

Absolutely. And I think one of the big things we’re seeing right now, in fact, I just talked to a donor about this a few minutes ago, is, you know, we’ve had a tremendous run in the market for the last three or four years, and this year, in the last year, year and a half or so, it’s not been quite as good. And so, from a psychology standpoint, we see that we don’t have as much left in our stock account today as we did a year ago. But then if you look at it on paper, we may still have a hundred or 150% gain in that particular stock. So, it’s still worth it to look at your overall portfolio, including cash, to determine, are there some stocks that it might be a nice time to exit, and if so, maybe that’s what I give to charity and hang on to my cash. And if you got your cash, you can always buy back into the stock market. But always consider it appreciated property first and foremost.

Dan 7:33

I wanna stay on that topic, Joe. Um, you know, as you just mentioned, the last year and a half, people have kind of looked at their portfolios with some raised eyebrows to say the least. Uh, if this is the case, how do you see donors here in the community responding to, you know, something like year-end giving?

Joe 7:52

Well, that’s a great question, and I think, um, from most donors, if they’re very loyal to the mission, very loyal to the charity, that’s not going to stop them from giving. I mean, we see that traditionally, and the pandemic was a great example of that. When the pandemic hit, it was a, you know, basically a foregone conclusion that, oh my gosh, every charity is going to struggle during the pandemic. Nobody’s going to give, can’t go to the rubber chicken dinner. You can’t go play in a golf tournament. But yet what we saw during the pandemic is many charities actually had rrecord-breaking years, year over year.

And, it’s because they had good stewardship, they had a good mission statement, they were able to tell the donor exactly how their money was being spent, and were also able to express that even though the pandemic hit and doors were closed, services were still going, especially in social services and hospital environments and things like that. So the doors may have been closed to the rubber chicken dinner, but it was still having to support the clientele, so…

Dan 8:52

Absolutely. Okay, so couple a things. Um, what are some of the reasons people do wait? You know, you have donors that contribute certain times of the year and things like that, but when it comes to this, oh my gosh, I gotta do something now. What is, what’s the biggest factor in why, why people do wait toward the end of the year and it seems to be a good time when, as you mentioned, a lot of nonprofit charitable organizations out there are aware of it.

Joe 9:17

Well, yeah. And I think that’s the biggest thing. I think one of the things that the Community Foundation does and we do well is try to help donors think differently. So, to your point of why do people wait? Well, oftentimes because it’s very transactional. They’ve gotten a letter in the mail, they get the checkbook out and they write a check to charity. Charity, they were willing to do it, and they were probably are not going to think about that again until next year.

Dan 9:45


Joe 9:46

When they get that letter and they get the checkbook out.

Dan 9:47

That’s, yep.

Joe 9:48

And one of the things that we do as a Foundation here is we try to get people to think more along the line as an investor rather than a donor. And so, a lot of the times what that means is breaking the cycle of that transactional gift and being a little bit more aware of the impact that you can have as a donor. And so, many people that we work with here utilize their donor-advised funds to have that impact from January to December versus just that November 25-December 31.


Right. Right.

Joe 10:17

Nothing wrong with being transactional. Nothing wrong with being a donor, but I think the majority of the people are just accustomed, that’s our society.

Dan 10:25

Well, I like what you just said too. I think you said something that’s I’ve not heard here, and it makes total sense, and I think our listeners will agree too. When you do become a donor here, if you think of it more as an investor, I think that that’s kind of a neat way to look at things. So Joe, I know you have many donors affiliated with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. You’ve been here for a long time. What’s the best way to encourage donors to consider year-end giving to be a good time to make a charitable gift if they don’t think of themselves as an investor throughout the year?

Joe 10:56

Well, I think one of the things is, we talked about, obviously, we can help you on the transactional portion as far as what type of gift to make whether that’s cash, non-cash, real estate, oil and gas. I mean, we can help you with a variety of different gifts. But I think two, we really want to be there and walk alongside you and help you understand, hey, when you make a grant to charity, let’s look to see what kind of impact that you want to have on that particular charity.

And, it could be where they’ve got a program or something that’s happening in April that we can reach back out and say, hey, did you know there’s a such and such event going on? Or, you know, there’s a new dog shelter being provided right now, or being built, or there’s a capital campaign for this. So, there’s many times throughout the year where organizations need funding. But, organizations and donors have just gotten accustomed to that year-end piece.

Dan 11:52

I know that, you know, the reputation here of you and your team are pretty stellar throughout the community, and I know that you guys get very, very busy this time of year at the foundation. Um, easiest way for somebody to reach out. What’s the best way for them to give you a call or go online? What’s the best way?

Joe 12:13

Well, I think if you’re not familiar with the Community Foundation and you want to have a little bit better understanding of who we are and what we do, certainly go to our website,,

That will give you a lot of insight as far as who we are as a community foundation, meaning the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. And maybe after you’ve gone on and seen some of the ways in which the Foundation interacts with the community and our donors and our professional advisors, maybe then you can either send us an email, you can email me directly at [email protected]. Or certainly we’re more than happy to have a phone conversation with you. My direct number is 405-606-2914. That’s 405-606-2914. Or certainly called the main number at 405-235-5603. 405-235-5603, that’s our main line, and just ask for anybody on the development team. But, I think the biggest thing is we’re getting down to crunch time, and so depending on what you’re trying to accomplish through your philanthropy, give us a call sooner than later.

Dan 13:24

Sounds good, Joe. Um, always great having you on this podcast. Your knowledge of working with donors throughout our community has been unprecedented and we appreciate all you do for the Foundation and our community. So, thanks for being with us on the podcast. We look forward to many more lively discussions on a variety of different topics down the road. So, thank you again.

Joe 13:46

Well, Dan, I want to add one last thing.

Dan 13:47


Joe 13:48

Uh, because we do service a lot of donors on their DAFs and what have you, but I would encourage people to go onto our website. We have lots of matching opportunities for our charitable organization endowment fund holders. So you could, you could very well easily double your gift or at least get a one to three match. They have several organizations right now, currently in a match. And so, I would certainly encourage you to go on and see how you can have double the impact on your, your current giving here at year-end.

Dan 14:19

Outstanding. Thanks for that last little bit of advice. Thanks, Joe.

Joe 14:22

You bet.

Dan 14:25

Now we want to bring in Ron Ward of Ward Construction. Ron was referred to the Community Foundation by his good friend, Bill Trammel, who is an Edward Jones advisor. Ron and his family support a wide range of nonprofits here locally and some nationally. Ron, thanks for agreeing to be our guest today on Creating Impact Through Giving. We are glad you are here sir.

Ron 14:44

Thank you.

Dan 14:45

So Ron, I’m going to jump into just a handful of questions. You know, this whole thing as we talk about giving, and especially this time of year, year-end giving. I know that you know, donors like you to the Foundation, this is sort of an important time of year. So, first question before we get into some of that, how are things going in the world of construction today? And has the economy affected your business in any way?

Ron 15:05

Well, it has affected our business. Surprisingly, the construction business is reasonably strong. Obviously, interest rates and the overall economy is going to affect our business going forward, I think. We’ve kind of fought through things like supply chain issues and, you know, getting projects manufactured and shipped to the job and those kinds of things. So, it’s got its difficulties.

Dan 15:34

Absolutely. Well, hopefully, things will turn around one of these days soon and things will keep going in the right direction. So, how long have you been a donor with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation? And tell us about your financial advisor and how you first were introduced to the Foundation.

Ron 15:50

Well of course, we’ve been in, you know, the donor business, I guess you call it that, for a number of years. But we didn’t have a, what I would say, an organized donor system, let’s call it.

Dan 16:04


Ron 16:05

And in, I think it was 2015, we had a kind of a real estate project where we sold some real estate and there was a good, it was a good opportunity to take some funds and put into a long-term endowed type of situation.

Dan 16:27


Ron 16:28

And I think that’s when I sat down with Bill and said, who does this? How do we, how would we do this? We obviously manage, between Bill and I, we manage our portfolio of stuff, but we, when you, when you put it into, for instance, the donor-advised fund, which we have, somebody else manages it. So, I sat down with Bill and Bill started talking and we, then we talked to Joe, and we had several things we were looking at, but the Oklahoma City Community Foundation turned out to be a really good, let’s call it a conduit to do what we wanted to do.

Dan 17:07

Absolutely. Yeah.

Ron 17:08

They had the ability to manage our funds. Give us some, some say into that, you know, most of that is kind of defined by, okay, what’s the length of time your money’s going to be here? If we’re talking about a large fund that is, I say a large fund, a fund of money that’s going to stay for a, you know, generations.

Dan 17:31


Ron 17:32

Then, then you want to set it up in terms of investments that you don’t worry about short-term market fluctuations. So Bill and I and Joe talked about it, and we kind of arrived at what’s called the donor-advised fund, which gives us some, a lot of say in both the donation side of it and the money management side of it, and that seemed to be a really good way to do it. So, we transferred the money in and it has done quite well.

Dan 18:05

Excellent. Well, I know that, you know, working with Joe and his team of experts here at the Foundation have been, is probably pretty beneficial in helping guide you with…

Ron 18:16

Yes. I can’t say enough good things about the, the way it’s, they take care of all the things that, you know, that drives our accountants crazy.

Dan 18:24

Right. Right. Exactly.

Ron 18:26

And that’s, that in itself is worth it to all of us. And, their management, you know, you don’t worry about what they’re, you know, how they’re managing the money.

Dan 18:36

Sure, sure. Well, you know, Joe was telling us that you have been supporting the El Reno Public School Foundation by offering matches to them to increase scholarship support. Tell us a little bit about how that came about and what you do.

Ron 18:45

Okay, that’s, yeah, it’s one of my passions. Of course, I, you know, everybody that, that kind of donates money, they always have passions.

Dan 18:55

Oh, absolutely.

Ron 15:56

You know what they wanted to see it, you know, happen. Education is kind of mine. You know, from Oklahoma State University, down to the little town that I’ve lived in for years was in El Reno. And, I was, I served on the initial board of that public school foundation, so I knew kind of what they were doing, and one of the things that we were able, kind of been able to do is to find those little niches where you can take what money you donate and leverage that into significantly more money, a larger pool of money, for instance, matching funds.

Dan 19:37


Ron 19:38

Or people that say, okay, I’ll pool my money with your money and we’ll make a bigger pile or a big, you know, make a bigger impact. And so that was fun. We got started with it. I just said, what if I do this? What if we do this over a three-year period? Do you have people that would buy into the match, and they did.

And, not only, and to bring Joe into it, Joe and the community fund, you know, helped the foundation in, the El Reno Foundation, in kind of best practices, you know, things that they had seen that worked in other places.

Dan 20:20

Absolutely, yeah.

Ron 20:21

And those were those, that was pretty exciting because it was a, it was a great success. Still going basically.

Dan 20:28

What are some of the other charitable causes that you like to support and why do you feel that this time of year, year-end, plays an important role when it comes to people making charitable gifts?

Ron 20:39

Well, some of the, some of the things in the year-end have to do with tax planning, but…

Dan 20:43

Absolutely. Sure. No, that’s a totally legit answer.

Ron 20:45

And it’s just a fact, and it is what a lot of people do, and we’re not unlike that. But I think, you know, I kind look at the overall project and say, okay, how can, how can I, I use the term move the needle. Because you can give, I mean, if I said, okay, I’m going to give $20,000 to United Fund, well, I don’t move the needle any more than anybody else to that large of fund. But, if I can say, all right I can leverage a certain amount of money with other people, other projects, help them in the expertise of getting things either built or projects off the ground. For instance, like the, you know, the foundation’s fund. Um, then you, you’ve moved the needle, so to speak, and got and moved it much further than you would’ve t normally if it was just you doing it by yourself. And those are, those to me are real exciting and I’ve been able to be a part of several of those and really enjoyable.

Dan 21:58

What are some of the other causes you like to support? You mentioned education is your big one, obviously, that’s your baby.

Ron 22:03

Well, what I’ve tried to do every time I, uh, institutions like OSU or El Reno, they always have projects that are structures, you know, like a building or a, you know, the Spears School of Business, let’s say at OSU. I don’t mind, you know, putting in bricks and mortar, but what I did was, half of those donations were to scholarship endowment.

Dan 22:35

All right. So I know that, you know, you talked a little bit about… You said some good things about working with the team here at the Foundation when you work with these, with Joe and a lot of his staff. Tell me a little bit about the experience and how, how that all works.

Ron 22:51

Well, I can’t say enough good things about it. If I called Joe today and I said, Joe, here’s my issue, or whatever. It’ll be taken care of, or we might collaborate on something. I mean, he was very involved in the project with the El Reno Foundation. And the thing that the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been able to do is they see a whole variety of different things that ordinarily I wouldn’t, I would never see. They can give you a lot of best practices, you know, how did this entity do it? How’s that entity do it?

And so, you get to see some things that are, that’s saying these are really working in the marketplace. And they have gotten large enough throughout the community to be able to do that. And that’s, I think that’s huge. That’s a big, big…

Dan 23:48

Outstanding. Well, we have been talking with Ron Ward today of Ward Construction talking about the importance of giving back to the community, especially this time of year during what’s known as sort of the year-end giving. Boy, and many donors have a lot of reasons for waiting till the end of the year. But Ron, we appreciate you being with us today.

Ron 24:09

You’re welcome.

Dan 24:11

Well, that about wraps it up for us today, and I want to thank all of you for listening and tuning in. And remember, there’s still plenty of time to consider making a charitable contribution to your favorite cause or nonprofit.

Remember, one person can make a difference. Imagine what we can all do together. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation is here to assist you and answer any questions you may have if you are thinking about giving back to your community. Join us again next month. We’re going to be talking about endowments and the solutions the Oklahoma City Community Foundation can provide for nonprofits through matching dollars. Our guests will be Jennifer Meckling, the director of Charitable Organization Endowment Program here at the Foundation, and Liz Charles, senior program officer with the Kirkpatrick Family Fund. We’ll also have Dr. Joe Leonard on the podcast, who has been a longtime donor to the Community Foundation, to get his thoughts on matching gifts.

This should be an informative discussion that every nonprofit will want to tune in for. We look forward to having you back with us again next month. Until then, I’m Dan Martel. We’ll see you again on Creating Impact Through Giving.

Episode 21 Transcript: Giving Together with GiveSmartOKC

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 21: Giving Together with GiveSmartOKC

Dan: 0:30

When you look around Oklahoma City, you might be surprised to learn that we are home to 1,200 nonprofit organizations. Some of them have been around for a long, long time, responding to the needs of the community. Have you ever wondered how to find a nonprofit that you’d like to support? The Oklahoma City Community Foundation has a unique platform called GiveSmartOKC. This is an online tool the Community Foundation launched to provide donors with the research to help them make informed choices about their charitable giving.

Today, companies across Oklahoma City large and small recognize the importance of being good community stewards, and they take corporate-social responsibilities seriously. Some companies, like Bank of Oklahoma, are working in partnership with the Community Foundation so many of their employees have the right resources to make sound decisions when it comes to charitable giving.

On the show today, we will be speaking with Evan Walter with the Bank of Oklahoma and Rebecca Parks the manager of GiveSmartOKC right here with the Community Foundation. Let’s bring in Rebecca Parks to talk about the GiveSmartOKC tool, how it works, who can use it, as well as the advantages of using it. Rebecca, welcome to Creating Impact Through Giving.

Rebecca: 1:40

Thank you, Dan. I’m really excited to be here today.

Dan 1:43

Well, we are glad you were here. Rebecca, you’re the manager of GiveSmartOKC, and since you’ve taken on this position, you seem to be doing an incredible job in encouraging non-profit organizations to jump on board creating profiles. I want to jump in and kind of talk a little bit about how all of this works, that good with you?

Rebecca 2:00


Dan 2:01

Okay. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about GiveSmart and how this online tool actually works?

Rebecca 2:07

Yeah. GiveSmartOKC is a free online resource administered by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. It features verified non-profit profile information, so non-profits come in, they create profiles with me. I work with them directly one-on-one, and they tell me about the organization, its impact, the programs, they list their board members on it. You can have financial information out the wazoo in it. There’s just a depth of information in GiveSmart.

Dan 2:41

Now my understanding is that right here in the Oklahoma City metro, we’ve probably got well over 1,000 nonprofits. That’s a lot. You’re right.

Rebecca 2:49

That’s a lot, yeah.

Dan 2:49

That’s a lot of non-profit organizations here. I want to ask a little bit, it just sounds like such an exciting tool and a real interesting way for nonprofits to engage in the community and others to engage with nonprofits. How many nonprofits in the OKC area are currently using GiveSmart with you right now?

Rebecca 3:08

Yeah, so we have 368 nonprofit profiles, which is really exciting. I think this is the highest we’ve ever been in nonprofits, so it’s awesome. I’m really excited.

Dan 3:17

I think that’s outstanding. How do you reach all of these nonprofits and tell us a little bit about the big advantages that some of the nonprofit receives for being part of GiveSmart?

Rebecca 3:28

Yeah, so a lot of them usually come in through our iFund program. So, we have this grant program called iFund, field of interest funds for those of you that don’t know what it is. We have four different service areas; Access to Health Care, Services for the Elderly, Culture and Community and Opportunities for Children. Part of the requirements to be funded through those programs is to have a GiveSmartOKC profile. That’s where I see a lot of people coming in. They don’t really know what it is at first, but then once they go through it, they realize, oh, this is a really great organization self-assessment tool. They’re asking the questions that maybe you don’t always get asked whenever you first start out a nonprofit. It goes into a lot of detail. It’s an entry point for a lot of OCCF’s grant funding. And then, we also have great corporate partnerships that also use GiveSmart to research verified charities in central Oklahoma and that’s how they kind of inform their charitable giving. They can see this nonprofit’s verified, it’s vetted by trusted staff at the Community Foundation. They know that their donation’s going to be used how they want it to be used.

Dan 4:45

Absolutely. I’m going to get into some of those corporate partnerships in a moment. Before we do that, I want to talk a little bit about how donors can engage. If I’m a donor or if you’re a donor out there and you’re listening to this podcast right now, and you’ve got a particular passion, an area of interest that you’d like to maybe create some kind of an impact, whether it’s animal welfare or services for the elderly or children, you can go to GiveSmart, that’s and you can find right now about 368, almost 370 non-profits already with profiles on there.

Rebecca 5:25

Absolutely, and you can filter by those topic areas.

Dan 5:28

How does that work?

Rebecca 5:29

If you’re interested in learning more about animal-serving organizations, you just go into, click out of the splash screen. You can take a tour if you wanted to, if you’re not so sure how to use the website, there’s a really helpful tour on there. But, you can just filter by topics. Animals is one of 11 topic areas that we have on there. It’ll filter out the organizations that identify themselves as animal-serving organizations. You can go even deeper by searching keywords. Maybe you want to find a program that feeds pets of the homeless people. It’s really easy. You can find all that information just in GiveSmartOKC.

Dan 6:12

One of the things I think is cool about it too, Rebecca, is it looks like you can actually find a nonprofit by zip code. If, let’s say you live on the south side and you want to help somebody close to home, you can jump on that website, figure out a certain passion or a certain interest that you’re, that you’d like to consider donating to and find somebody close to you, correct?

Rebecca 6:32

Absolutely. You can absolutely do it that way, filtering by zip codes and location. Something that’s really interesting. We do have a map on our website, it functions very similar to Google Map for nonprofits in central Oklahoma. You can also do data research on that side. If you’re interested in maybe contributing, volunteering your time to an organization, trying to provide services to people who don’t have high internet access rates, you can actually go through our system and look up percentages of the population that are affected most by low internet access rates and then find out which organizations are in that area making an impact with that certain cause area.

Dan 7:16

Wow that’s outstanding, I mean, so this thing really goes deep. I had no idea.

Rebecca 7:19

It does.

Dan 7:20

Wow! That is incredible. I want to go back, you mentioned partnerships with corporations a second ago. I want to kind of go deeper into that. You all partner with corporations across Oklahoma City. How do these partnerships work and what are some of the benefits that they too can receive by using this GiveSmart tool?

Rebecca 7:40

Well, these are pretty established partnerships. We partner with Bank of Oklahoma and their Together We Give program. It is their employee giving, and each month a certain employee gets awarded a $200 grant that they can donate out to any organization that is featured on GiveSmartOKC. An employee can choose from 368 profiles and find one that really aligns with their values and what they want to see their financial impact going towards.

Dan 8:09

I know that when we’re talking about these nonprofits creating profiles and they want to be part of this platform, how do you find these organizations, Rebecca?

Rebecca 8:19

It really comes from the staff at the Community Foundation. A lot of the time we’ll sit in on meetings and they’ll tell me about certain organizations and say, I think they’d be eligible for a GiveSmart profile, you should reach out to them, and so I will and get that process going. A lot of our Charitable Organization Endowment partners are also on GiveSmart. We have 230 of those. They come in from a variety of ways, but I don’t know, I just love working with all the nonprofits and trying to get as many as I can on there.

Dan 8:56

Yeah, absolutely.

Rebecca 8:57

It’s just to increase their visibility and community, and it’s also great for our corporate partners and our donors, our community members, to find a variety of organizations to meet their needs.

Dan 9:11

Well, and you mentioned Bank of Oklahoma, that’s a big company, and I’m sure that whatever that partnership looks like, that it certainly makes their job a lot easier when it comes to financial giving, charitable giving, I should say, to some of these organizations.

Rebecca 9:27

Absolutely. How good does it feel to give out money? It’s awesome. I’m just so happy that we have that partnership with them.

Dan 9:34

I know that you have really taken this GiveSmart program by the horns and have really run with it and are doing some wonderful things with this platform. My understanding is you also hold training sessions, right, for people that are just getting their nonprofit organizations added to the platform. Tell us how those sessions work and how people can find out about them.

Rebecca 9:57

Yeah, that is personally one of my favorite things that I do here at the Community Foundation. I hold monthly working sessions, which is just a two-hour timeframe for our nonprofit profile partners to come in, work on the profile, ask me any questions that they need. I’ll give them tips and tricks on what makes their profile stand out. It’s also just a great networking session for them too, because they may be sitting in a room of organizations that they’ve never even heard of before. Maybe they find a need somewhere and they have the resources to help fill that gap. I’ve seen that in several of my sessions where people are actually collaborating and sharing information, and it’s such a great time. If you are interested in building a nonprofit profile, please come out to one of our working sessions. I’d love to help you out.

Dan 10:49

Those are here at the Community Foundation?

Rebecca 10:51

Yes, they are here at the Community Foundation, and you can find it on

Dan 11:00

All right, Rebecca, how often are nonprofits supposed to update their profiles and information? How does that happen?

Rebecca 11:10

Every year, 45 days after their fiscal year ends is whenever they’re required to do an annual review of their profile. That means they go in, they update their board list annually, they update their financial information annually, as well as their state solicitations permit, which is a really big piece of compliance that we need on the website. Annually is whenever they review. Our donors, our community members, our corporate partners looking at these profiles can ensure if it has the green check mark, they’re up to date, they’re in good standing with us.

Dan 11:47

Well, it sounds like you’re on the phone quite a bit with some of these nonprofit organizations.

Rebecca 11:51

Absolutely, I am.

Dan 11:54

All right, Rebecca, one more time, what’s the best way for nonprofits to reach out to you here at the Community Foundation?

Rebecca 11:59

Well, they can reach out to me at [email protected], by calling me at (405)-606-2974 or just looking at the website and looking at the staff page until you find me. I’m a friendly person, friendly face, and I’m happy to help out with anything I can.

Dan 12:17

Well, Rebecca, you’ve certainly been very friendly with us today on this podcast. We appreciate you being here, so thanks again for being part of it. If you’re listening today and are affiliated with a nonprofit organization here in OKC and you do not have a profile on GiveSmartOKC, reach out to Rebecca Parks and make sure you create yours today. If you are a big corporation and would like to partner with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to make your charitable giving easier, give Rebecca a call. We can certainly help in that area as well and she’d love to talk to you.

Now, let’s bring in Evan Walter. Evan is the Senior Vice President of Institutional Wealth with the Bank of Oklahoma. We’ll talk to Evan a little bit about his experience using the GiveSmart Platform. Evan, welcome to our podcast.

Evan 13:02

Thank you. Glad to be here, Dan.

Dan 13:04

Well, glad you’re here. Before we kind of jump in, I’m just going to start asking you some questions about your prior life before BOK. Before you join Bank of Oklahoma, you worked in the nonprofit sector and you were able to use GiveSmart back in those days. Tell us a little bit about that.

Evan 13:22

Absolutely. Well, GiveSmart was a great opportunity for us for the nonprofits that I had the privilege of working with to share our story really with the public, and know that the information that we’re sharing was going to be transparent and appreciated by our donor base. The questionnaire that’s involved in going through the GiveSmart process is incredible, and it’s all the questions that donors should be asking of their nonprofits but maybe don’t know to ask. It provides some great, great information to the donor to make an educated gift to the appropriate nonprofit.

Dan 14:05

Fantastic. How did you first learn about GiveSmart and tell us a little bit about some of the experiences you’ve had using it?

Evan 14:12

Wow, when did I hear about GiveSmart? Well, when we came to Oklahoma City back in 2004, my wife and I were both in the nonprofit business, and so as GiveSmart came about, we learned about it like most nonprofits did, through the active communications of the Community Foundation to inform us of the opportunity to represent our organizations on the platform.

Dan 14:44

Okay, cool. I know that now that you’re at Bank of Oklahoma, I know that your organization does partner with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation when it comes to charitable giving through the GiveSmart platform. How long have you all been encouraging some of your employees at the bank to use GiveSmart? Tell me how that program works.

Evan 15:03

Good question. We started using GiveSmart, I want to say, in 2017. I think that’s about right. What we were looking for is, philanthropy is really part of our DNA at Bank of Oklahoma, and our employees are encouraged to volunteer and give back. Through their volunteer experiences, they are eligible for their name to be drawn, and then a gift is made to the organization of their choosing. Now, in order to make that happen, we needed to provide them with a database of well-vetted, strong nonprofits in the area and GiveSmart provided us a wonderful platform to do that.

Dan 16:00

That is outstanding. You know, one of the things that I know that the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been working on is trying to develop some of these corporate partnerships throughout the city for that exact same reason. I know there are a lot of organizations in the Oklahoma City metro that have a kind heart, they have a gift for giving and they have programs internally too. This program would certainly be a little bit easier for them to use, especially when it comes to their employees. Does it make the giving process easier, especially for a large company such as BOK.

Evan 16:36

Absolutely! Without a doubt, it provides the company and also the employees who are participating in a program like this. It really provides peace of mind knowing that their gift is going to be utilized for the purpose that they intended. The amount of information that’s available, the due diligence, the vetting that goes on as part of the GiveSmart program is phenomenal. It really is a beautiful partnership for BOK and the Community Foundation. GiveSmart‘s a fabulous tool.

Dan 17:19

What do you think some of the benefits are of using GiveSmart? Maybe you’ve talked to some of your employees, people that work with you, that have kind of talked to you a little bit about using the platform. What do you think some of the benefits are?

Evan 17:31

Well, it really tells the story of the organization. It gives a nonprofit organization the opportunity to tell their story. To tell about how they run as an organization and administratively. They provide that level of transparency that a donor is looking for, especially in this day and age, to make sure that their gift is going to what they intended it to be going towards. That those organizations are going to be a strong steward of those resources and their leadership is acting in a fiduciary capacity to make sure that every gift has the greatest amount of impact possible.

Dan 18:15

Outstanding. Evan, one of the things I wanted to ask you too is, there are a lot of corporations out here in Oklahoma City. We’re now the 20th biggest city in America, which is hard to believe. Do you think that other corporations could consider partnering with the Community Foundation to maybe help them with their corporate charitable giving and maybe that dialogue’s floating out there somewhere?

Evan 18:36

Absolutely. Without a doubt. If they’re not already, then they need to be looking into it. The GiveSmart program is a great entree into that because it really is a turnkey solution for them. They’ve got businesses to run. They want to encourage philanthropy within their corporate culture and among their employees, but at the same time, they’ve got a business to run. Partnering with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is a no-brainer. It’s an opportunity to engage with the community while continuing their mission of whatever that might be.

Dan 19:22

Sure. Absolutely. Well, Evan, thanks for being with us today. We appreciate the strong relationship that Bank of Oklahoma has with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. If you’re listening today, a lot of you I want to fill you all in that we are more than happy to walk any of you, your team members or anybody within your company and train them and teach them about GiveSmartOKC. It’s an easy platform to learn. Rebecca Parks holds monthly training sessions here at the Community Foundation. These are little learning labs, and she will be available to assist you with any of the needs. Again, Evan, I want to thank you again for being on the program. We really appreciate your valuable insight.

Evan 20:01

Well, thank you for the opportunity, Dan.

Dan 20:04

Well, that’ll do it for us today. I want to thank our guests, Rebecca Parks, the manager of GiveSmartOKC with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, as well as Evan Walter with the Bank of Oklahoma. Join us again next month on Creating Impact Through Giving as we talk about the impact the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has in rural Oklahoma. We will have some special guests on the program, and we hope that you’ll tune in again next time. Thanks for being with us. If your company would like to partner with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation when it comes to helping you with your charitable giving, please feel free to reach out to Rebecca Parks and enjoy your day. Thanks for being with us.

Episode 20 Transcript: Professional Advisors and OCCF

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 20: Professional Advisors and OCCF

Dan Martel 0:30

Hello, I’m Dan Martel and welcome back to Creating Impact Through Giving. Last month, you heard a lively discussion with Trisha Finnegan, the new President and CEO of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation on what the Foundation is and how it works to benefit the entire community. Today, we’re going to be talking about the role of a professional advisor and how vital they are to the growth of the Community Foundation. A professional advisor helps their clients with their estate and charitable planning goals and objectives. Oftentimes, they are financial professionals, attorneys, or accountants, and Joe Carter, the Vice President of Development with the Community Foundation has worked with many of these professional advisors throughout his years. He’s going to talk to us today about how important their role is to our whole community. In addition to Joe, we’re going to have two professional advisors on the program today, Kendall King and Kendra Robben. Kendall is the founder and CEO of Castlepoint Wealth Advisors. With 20 years of experience in advising clients on a wide range of wealth management topics, Kendall possesses extensive expertise and specialized knowledge regarding entrepreneurial strategies and family wealth transfer topics. Kendra Robben is an estate planning and corporate law attorney licensed to practice in both Oklahoma and Kansas. She established Robben Law back in November of 2009 and represents clients in all aspects of estate planning including wills, trusts, power of attorney and living wills. Let’s bring in Joe Carter. Joe, welcome back to Creating Impact Through Giving.

Joe Carter 1:58

Thank you, Dan.

Dan Martel 1:59

Joe, you’ve been working with professional advisors on behalf of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for several years now. Let’s just jump in and talk about the role that they play.

Joe Carter 2:06

So, advisors play an extremely important role to the Community Foundation. We’re not a traditional fundraising shop. I would say our definition of development is more developing relationships. Most of our time is spent developing those relationships with the CPA, with attorneys, with financial advisors, trust officers, anybody that has face-to-face meetings with clients that may have charitable intentions. Very, very important in our work here.

Dan Martel 2:35

Where do you guys find folks like this throughout the community? How do you build these relationships?

Joe Carter 2:40

Well, back in the day as we say, that was me out on the streets knocking on doors. That was 19 years ago. This was a position that the Foundation had not had. When I came in that literally was my job, to go out and beat the streets. I don’t have the luxury of just getting out and doing that any longer. Now it’s kind of a referral from advisor to advisor. However, as the Foundation has grown in both size and number of donors and types of funds, so has our demographic reach. While it’s Oklahoma City Community Foundation, we’re really servicing donors across the state of Oklahoma and in some cases outside the border. We’ve added additional staff that their responsibility is actually to go out and be on the borders of Oklahoma County or the six surrounding counties that make up our service area.

Dan Martel 3:35

Makes sense. Makes sense. Let me ask this, Joe, in terms of establishing these donor gifts, what is the percentage of gifts that result from your relationships with these professional advisors?

Joe Carter 3:46

I would say, I mean, I’m not putting the name or the number to it yet, but I would say that at least 80, if not more percent of the funds that come here on an annual basis come from a referral from an advisor.

Dan Martel 4:00

All right. They do play an incredibly important role here at the Community Foundation.

Joe Carter 4:04

Extremely important role, yes.

Dan Martel 4:06

What are some of the questions that you all have to answer when you’re contacted, let’s say by a professional advisor or one of their clients, what kind of questions are they asking you?

Joe Carter 4:14

Well, first, so many people are not familiar with OCCF. Part of that is because we’re not a fundraising organization. We’re really what we consider a tool in that advisor’s kit. With that being said, they know they have the hammer and the nail and all that, but sometimes, from their vantage point, they’re experts in the law, they’re experts in financial, they’re experts in accounting. They rely on us to be experts in philanthropy. Really the introduction is key number one because hopefully, their advisor has instilled confidence that they know what they’re talking about. Then when they refer OCCF to them, there’s just another layer of confidence that’s built into that client, to begin with.

Then the second thing when they call us because they haven’t often heard of us outside of their advisory relationships, it really becomes well, what type of funds are there? Is it scholarships? We don’t even know what a donor advised fund is. Our advisor told us, Hey, here’s a way to get a charitable deduction today and leave a legacy tomorrow. Yet we’re so much more than that. It’s helpful for us to get down in the weeds then after we’ve had that introductory conversation.

Dan Martel 5:26

Absolutely. Well, to me, that comes with, goes back to sort of what we’ve talked about in the past too, Joe, is just what the OCCF can offer people. Somebody’s sitting on the fence right now going, gosh, I’m going to choose the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, or I’m going to choose another entity. What’s the one big advantage that you can offer that person that’s sort of on the fence?

Joe Carter 5:47

Well, I think the biggest thing is number one, our resource center here. From the experience of our staff, to knowing the community as a whole, as far as where are the charitable needs that need to be addressed right now. Whether that’s a big cause area like homelessness or whether that’s something very small, like an individual charity helping veterans, or you know, a no kill shelter, something of that nature. We really try to embrace what that donor is trying to accomplish and then identify places. Some of the larger shops that offer donor advised funds, whether it’s commercial or other areas, they’re just not as familiar with Oklahoma City community.

Dan Martel 6:28

Absolutely. Are there any tools that you all supply these advisors with in order to get their clients to decide where to help put their charitable dollars?

Joe Carter 6:38

Well, I think there’s been obviously over a 19-year period here, you understand how to go out and knock on a door but you evolve over time. One of the things that I’ve taken great pride in is, over the last 20 years or so, there weren’t a lot of professional advisors actually bridging the topic of charitable giving. Whether it be in an estate plan or financial plan or something of that nature. Through our work here, we’ve really tried to help them understand not the value of charitable giving, but maybe how to introduce charitable giving to their clients. It’s really all about how the conversation comes up and then navigating the water, so to speak. I think our professional advisor community here is much more equipped today to have those conversations than maybe they were 20 years ago.

Dan Martel 7:25

Outstanding. Thinking back over your 19-plus year career with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has there been a gift that has come in through that that was almost a jaw-dropping situation like, wow!

Joe Carter 7:39

Well, it’s interesting because they may have brought our name up and referred it to somebody and said, come here direct. In a couple of cases, the conversation probably started with an advisor, and we were the tail end of that. But I would say one that we’ve worked on, which is jaw-dropping. It’s probably an estate that will be in excess of $85 million when it comes in. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of conversations with that particular donor and his family and how they create impactful giving over multiple generations. You never know when somebody comes in, that’s the beauty of this place. There’s a lot of millionaires next door that come into us. I would say there are many people that see somebody parked out here in their old ‘75 station wagon wanting to know why would that car possibly be here. Then when they see them walk in, they’re like they’re rags to riches. What have we got working here? But at the end of the day, that’s a client that maybe had ample means, but at the end of the day, they felt the need to make an impact back on society that had given them ever how much they have been blessed to receive.

Dan Martel 8:44

Well, Joe, I know that you and your entire team have done so much for the Community Foundation helping a lot of people out in the community create an impact. That’s really what we’re talking about on this particular podcast. Thanks for your expertise today. We’re looking forward to speaking with a couple of the professional advisors that you work with. We appreciate you being here. Always great to have you. Before I let you go, what’s the best way to reach Joe Carter and the Oklahoma City Community Foundation,

Joe Carter 9:12

(405) 235-5603 ask for Joe or anybody on our development team.

Dan Martel 9:20

Sounds great, Joe. Thanks again for being here today.

Joe Carter 9:22

You bet. Thank you.

Dan Martel 9:25

Up next, we welcome Kendall King to the podcast. Kendall, again, is the Founder and CEO of Castlepoint Wealth Advisors. Kendall welcome. We are glad to have you on the program.

Kendall King 9:34

Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Dan Martel 9:35

You bet. Kendall, tell us a little bit about the work that you do. Why did you decide that this was an area you were interested in?

Kendall King 9:42

Sure. I’ve been doing this a little bit over 20 years been in the investment, advisory and financial planning space. At Castlepoint Wealth, we are an independent wealth management firm and we work with a little over 200 individuals and we help them mostly on the investment advice side, but then we work with them on all the areas around there that are tied in; the tax planning, the estate planning, charitable gifting.

Dan Martel 10:06

So, one of the things we’ve been talking about today is how the Oklahoma City Community Foundation works with professional advisors and donors and things like that. How often are you able to refer clients to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and why OCCF?

Kendall King 10:22

Yeah, that’s great. I’ve had a relationship with Joe Carter and his team for a period of years. There’s been a lot of situations where the client wasn’t quite ready, but Joe was still there to kind of talk me through it. I think some of those clients we’ll eventually get to, but we were able to work on something last year and it was a really good opportunity together. I have a lot of confidence in what he does. He’s always there to answer the questions that I don’t know, which are a lot. I’ve been doing this over 20 years. One of the things I’ve learned is how much I don’t know. Having someone like Joe and everyone at OCCF just gives you a high comfort level. The other thing I really like about OCCF and Joe is they make it all about the client. There’s not this, “Hey, how do we make this good for Joe or anyone here?” It’s all about the client. Our advisory firm feels it’s the same way. We’re very aligned with how OCCF serves their clients.

Dan Martel 11:16

Well, I know it’s one of the selling points at the Community Foundation. When you get on the phone, you’re actually talking to somebody that’s local and understands what the clients are going through. I appreciate that. Obviously, that’s one of the advantages. What are some of the questions that you usually get from clients when you suggest, “Hey, I’m going to have you reach out to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation”? What are the questions that they usually ask you?

Kendall King 11:39

Yeah, a lot of the questions revolve around where do I start if I want to make an impact. Some of the questions revolve around partially the type of impact they want to make on who, or what type of group of people they want to make an impact on. Then inevitably you have the tax planning component. It ends up being one of those factors. It usually leads to a conversation. I think too, the fourth one I bring up is the types of gifts that they could make. That’s one that I found Joe to especially be a great resource on. I think a lot of times people are surprised at some of the types of assets they can give that they didn’t know beforehand.

Dan Martel 12:18

Which is absolutely true. I mean, yeah, the Community Foundation does get a lot of interesting requests for certain assets. I want to talk a little bit about this book you wrote called Abundance, right? Is that correct? Abundance, Your Path Starts Here. Tell us about the book. Why did you write it and give us a little insight as to what it’s about?

Kendall King 12:34

You bet. Yes. Thanks for asking that question. Initially, I had a goal to write a book and as I was going through that process, I realized I want this book to have some impact on people outside of the clients that we get to work on. We, unfortunately, only can work with a limited number of clients. One of the objectives of the book was how can I help people on a more broad basis understand how they can create a little more abundance for their life. The word abundance usually refers to having a lot of money, but in this case, we really were focused more on the term as financial abundance being one piece of it, but it was just one piece and there’s a lot of other pieces. I think abundance has always been the theme word for our firm. Our mission is to help people live more abundant lives. I thought, why not try to write a book and see if I can help a few more people?

Dan Martel 13:27

Outstanding. Where can you get the book?

Kendall King 13:29

You can get the book if you go to Amazon actually. If you search Kendall King and Abundance, it should pop up there.

Dan Martel 13:36

All right, well, you just heard it Abundance, Your Path Starts Here by Kendall King, that is available on Amazon. Pick it up if you’re interested in learning how to live a more abundant life, which is their mission, which is outstanding. Joe Carter and his team are very experienced with setting up funds for donors. You’ve just talked a little bit about how it’s been working with his team and some of the advantages. What’s the best way for folks to reach you. If they have any questions that they want to field before you introduce them to somebody like the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, how do they reach you?

Kendall King 14:07

Yeah, absolutely. They could reach us at Castlepoint with no ‘E’ at the end, That’s the best way to probably get more information on us and contact us. But I also say that I have no hesitation and tell people to go directly to Joe. I think that’s the great thing about Joe, and the same with us. We don’t worry about someone getting on our turf or anything. We have no hesitation to say, “Hey, go straight to Joe.” But, if they’re one of our clients, we love being a part of those conversations. Like I said, I learn so much every time I’m around Joe and that’s always a great experience for us.

Dan Martel 14:41

Well, I think that’s excellent, Kendall. Thank you so much for that too. I’m sure Joe is very appreciative of any kind of referral that you can throw over to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Kendall, thanks for being part of the program today. We appreciate you sharing a little bit about the work you do, particularly with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. I know the Foundation is grateful to have you as a partner when it comes to helping clients and when it comes to dealing with financial planning, thanks so much for being here.

Kendall King 15:05

I enjoyed it. Thanks for having me.

Dan Martel 15:07

You bet. Now I want to bring in Kendra Robben. Kendra is an estate planning and corporate law attorney. Kendra represents clients in all aspects of estate planning. Kendra, welcome to Creating Impact Through Giving.

Kendra Robben 15:19

I am so happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Dan Martel 15:22

We appreciate you being with us today. Let’s just jump right in. Tell us about the type of work you do with Robben Law, which is obviously a firm you started back in 2009. Give us a little insight as to what you all do there.

Kendra Robben 15:34

Perfect. We do all aspects of estate planning, which is generally transitioning wealth from one generation to the next and planning for incapacity of any sort if someone is incapacitated or passes away. Then we also do a lot of corporate transactional work, so contracts, any sorts of business agreements, non-litigated matters that would be business negotiation type matters.

Dan Martel 16:00

Excellent. What about the clients? I want to talk a little bit about some of the clients that you see and some of the things that they do want to leave behind when it comes to their legacy. When do they normally come to see you and start this discussion?

Kendra Robben 16:14

Well, it’s a range. Lots of people come in lots of different stages. We see some people that come early, like when they have young children and they’re worried about guardianship and potential passing of that, but we see lots of people when they come to retirement age and beginning to start thinking about the legacy that they’re going to leave. A lot of people when they’re transitioning out of full-time work, looking at retirement in that realm of trying to figure out what does their legacy look like and planning for the future in that way.

Dan Martel 16:42

Fantastic. When it comes to referring clients to the Foundation, this is where Joe and his team come in. How familiar are folks with the OCCF and what types of questions do they normally have?

Kendra Robben 16:53

So, a lot of times in my meetings, they’re not really that familiar with OCCF in general, but they know that they have some idea that they potentially want to do something charitable, but they have no concept of how that could work or what that would look like, and they’re looking to me for some guidance and some suggestions. A lot of times it’s introducing them to the fact that OCCF it’s much simpler than they might imagine that it would be in order to have an impact on their charitable giving. It’s much more possible for them to kind of dip their toe in the water you might say to do something small during life, setting up for something larger in their estate planning documents.

A lot of times those conversations start either with me saying something about, do you have charitable intentions, is that part of your legacy planning? Or them mentioning something about the fact that they don’t know how to accomplish those charitable goals? Then we’re able to have a really helpful discussion for a lot of people about the options that OCCF provides, the different tranches of doing scholarships, doing donor advised funds and put those two pieces together.

Dan Martel 18:05

What are some of the advantages that you find working with the Community Foundation, Joe Carter in particular and his team? He’s got an incredible team with the OCCF, versus perhaps another type of organization.

Kendra Robben 18:17

Well, mostly I find with OCCF and Joe in particular, that he is willing to spend whatever amount of time it takes with my clients, even if they just want to leave a little money to a cat charity that their neighbor had at one point. He’s willing to spend enough time with all of them to make them feel comfortable and understand what the process is. Which is, I think, a special feature of OCCF. I also think OCCF’s donor portal makes it really easy for people to understand and see their account, understand how they can give grants. Just the support that the team has here to really wrap around them is really helpful.

Dan Martel 18:55

You know one of the things that Joe reminded us of some time ago, and it really stuck with me too is, you don’t have to be a wealthy person to create an impact. To his point whether you’re a $25 donor or a $25 million donor, anybody can create an impact. That being said, Kendra, not everybody has to be wealthy when it comes to estate planning. What are some of the parameters when it comes to talking to folks about this?

Kendra Robben 19:20

Really the parameters are that you have some sort of charitable intent or some sort of intent to distribute your wealth in a way that benefits others outside of just direct lineal descendants in your family. Sometimes that means just, I want to continue to support my church in the way that I have continued to support them during life. Sometimes that means I really want to leave a lasting large gift for something. Sometimes that means I want to instill a love of charitable giving in my children the same way that I have it, and so I want to set up some sort of a fund that’s going to have annual grant giving capabilities and I want to use that as a tool to get my children interested in charitable giving in the way that I feel passionate about it.

Dan Martel 20:04

Outstanding. Well, I know that Joe and his team are very experienced when it comes to establishing funds for donors as you were just talking about. Why is experience so important when it comes to taking care of a donor’s legacy?

Kendra Robben 20:19

In my experience, it really matters because a lot of people don’t know what they want to do. Having someone with experience that can give examples of different things that have worked for other people in the past really gives people a comfort to take that leap and make the gift, or take that leap and set up the charitable endowment planning after their death. It really helps them to hear the stories of other people that are in similar situations, and it helps give them a comfort level with it that just doesn’t come with other groups that don’t have the kind of experience that Joe and the team bring here.

Dan Martel 20:52

That’s good to know. Kendra, thanks for being with us today and sharing your knowledge with our listeners. There’s a lot of work that goes into helping clients plan for their future. We all know that to be true. Whether it’s establishing a trust or getting them to complete a will, let’s talk a little bit about how people can get in touch with you. What’s the best way for folks to find out about Robben Law?

Kendra Robben 21:11

Well, visiting our website is probably the best way to just get basic information and get our contact information. it’s, which is my last name, That’s probably the best way and quickest way to get in touch with us.

Dan Martel 21:29

All right, thanks again, Kendra. It was a pleasure having you on the podcast today. We appreciate and hope to have you back.

Kendra Robben 21:34

Thanks for having me.

Dan Martel 21:38

Well, that wraps up another episode of Creating Impact Through Giving. We certainly hope you found today’s topic interesting. If you have any questions on what to do when it comes to your estate planning, you heard from two of the area’s most experienced professionals. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation has strong relationships with many professional advisors throughout the community. If you’re looking for a way to create your own impact, the Community Foundation has a team of experienced professionals that can help you get started.

Join us again next month, when we will talk about the role the Community Foundation plays in rural Oklahoma. The Foundation has footprints that extend all over the state. This should be another lively discussion and a very interesting topic. I want to thank our guests today, Joe Carter, with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Kendall King of Castlepoint Wealth Advisors and Kendra Robben with Robben Law. I hope everybody’s having a great week and we’ll see you next time.

Episode 23 Transcript: Endowments: A Perfect Match

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 23: Endowments: A Perfect Match

Dan 0:28

How many of you listening out there today have heard the word endowment, but you’re not quite sure what an endowment is or perhaps how it works? I’m Dan Martel, and I want to welcome you all back to our podcast, Creating Impact Through Giving, brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. The Community Foundation has the largest charitable organization endowment program of its kind in the country.

Currently, there are more than 390 nonprofits that have established endowments with the Foundation. An endowment fund can create sustainable support for the nonprofit that use these funds, and they’re essential to the work that they do in the community. When a nonprofit establishes a new endowment fund, it may also qualify to participate in something called the Kirkpatrick Family Fund Endowment Matching Grant Program.

So today, we’re going to be speaking with Jennifer Mec,kling who is the director of the Charitable Organization Endowment Program with the Community Foundation. Will also be speaking with Liz Charles, who is the senior program officer with the Kirkpatrick Fund And, we’ll learn how the Kirkpatrick match actually works.

And finally, we’ll be speaking to Dr. Joe Leonard, a longtime donor to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, who has participated in helping several nonprofits reach their goals through matching funds. So, let’s bring in Jennifer Meckling. Jennifer, welcome back to Creating Impact of Giving.

Jennifer 1:44

Thanks, Dan. Thanks for having me.

Dan 1:45

So, Jennifer, you oversee the Charitable Organization Endowment with the Community Foundation, correct?

Jennifer 1:50

That’s right.

Dan 1:51

Okay. And it’s grown to become the largest endowment program of its kind in the country.

Jennifer 1:57

That’s right, too.

Dan 1:58

How did that happen?

Jennifer 1:59

Well, we have a long legacy with this program. Mr. Kirkpatrick, our founder, really believed very strongly in what endowment could do for organizations. And he said about setting up endowments for some of those organizations many years and believed really strongly in helping them grow and inspiring them to grow them themselves. And to this day, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund offers matches to do just that.

So, all those years of inspiring donors to give to endowment, inspiring organizations to talk to their donors about investing in endowment has resulted in what we have today.

Dan 2:29

That’s outstanding. So, for our listeners, I want to talk about the idea of an endowment. So, tell us again, you know, what is an endowment, and how does it work through the Community Foundation?

Jennifer 2:40

So, an endowment fund is a permanent fund here. We never spend the principle of the fund. So, it’s a a fund of money that we invest really wisely with a group of community volunteers. And their goal is to grow that fund over the years with great investment performance. Some years are better than others, as we’ve seen some little volatility over the past couple of years.

Dan 2:58

Sure. Absolutely, yes.

Jennifer 3:00

But over the long haul, that fund will grow increasingly every year. And then, each year, we calculate an amount of 5% of that fund, and we grant that out to the organization. So, the organization can count on 5% of that fund every single year. And because investment performance traditionally does go in an upward trajectory, the fund will grow incrementally every year. So that 5% distribution will go up every year. All right. And what, I want to talk a little bit about that because I know you all do this kind of a, a cool event at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for your nonprofit partners who have endowments here.

Dan 3:23

I want to talk a little bit about that later, but I want to jump in really quick and, and ask you, I know you’ve got more than 360; what’s the number of nonprofits that that do participate in the program? And how did your team get so many of these nonprofits that consider establishing an endowment fund?

Jennifer 3:48

So, we have about 390 organizations right now that have permanent endowments, and those have grown over the years.

Some of them were started by Mr. Kirkpatrick himself many, many years ago, and others are just getting started this year. And honestly, I don’t do a lot of marketing to try to get people to come in here for an endowment fund. But the word gets out of what an incredible amazing development vehicle It is, what a sustainability vehicle it is.

So, people come to us and ask about starting an endowment. Either a donor comes and says, Hey, I’d really like to create a sustainable income stream for this organization. Or an organization decides, Hey, we’ve got a little bit of a surplus. We’d like to invest that in endowment so that we have some money for the future.

So, day in, and day out, I get phone calls people want to know more about endowment and are interested in starting them.

Dan 4:34

Outstanding. That is really, really cool. So, I know that you all offer training for nonprofits too. That’s a big thing for you guys.

Jennifer 4:41

It is.

Dan 4:42

And all of those that that do establish one, I know that you have some training available for. Tell us a little bit about how that training works and how do people find out about them.

Jennifer 4:51

So that training is for our endowed partners so that they can learn how to grow their fund. They can learn to talk to donors about more strategic ways of giving. For many years, my colleague Joe Carter did a series called The Seeds of Planned Giving, and that was about planting those seeds, those ideas in the minds of donors and in the minds of organizations who could then plant that seed in their donor’s minds.

Dan 5:13


Jennifer 5:13

About how to grow a fund through planned giving or creative giving. And then, when I came on board here, I noticed that there was a little bit of a gap between that series of planned giving and focusing on endowment. So, we created a second series called Focus on Endowment, and that’s taking those ideas that we learn in planned giving and, and really just focusing them on how do we use that to grow the endowment.

And that’s become really popular. We do something called Endowment 101 once per quarter, and that’s a great way for people just to get the basics in if they’re new to their organization.

Dan 5:44


Jennifer 5:45

They’ve never had an endowment before, or maybe they’re just new to a position within an endowed organization; they can learn a little bit about it. There’s a low barrier to entry. We do most of those on Zoom, so it’s really easy to sit back and tune in and learn a little bit about endowment.

Dan 5:58

Outstanding. So, I know that, and this is what I’m talking about. This is kind of fun. So, I know your team does something very exciting every year. You have a disbursement event. How does that work? And kind of tell us a little bit about the excitement that goes on around that event.

Jennifer 6:12

Yeah, so every year, we calculate that 5% for all of these organizations. And we have one big event in October where we give out the checks, and that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 10, $11 million that goes out the door that day.

So, in previous years, we’ve had one big event, and everybody comes in, it’s all hands on deck. We’ve got to get a lot of checks out the door and deal with a lot of people, and we have a little bit of a celebration. This past year, you may have noticed that we have a new CEO, and she really wanted the opportunity to talk to people. And a big party with 350 people in attendance is not necessarily the best way to do that.

So, we broke it into six events over three days. It was also all hands, but a different kind of hands. It was a long stretch for us for that week.

Dan 6:55


Jennifer 6:55

But we had the opportunity to address the crowd, and then we had the opportunity to have personal one-on-one conversations. Trisha got to meet a lot of those people in person, shake their hands, hear their stories. So, it was every bit as exciting. It was just drawn out over six events over three days, and we had great attendance, we had great feedback on that, and I think that might be our new normal.

Dan 7:16

That’s excellent. You know, and one thing that was cool, if I can recall about that event, you actually had speakers of people that actually were talking about their endowments, how excited they were to have their endowment. So, you’re, you’ve got people talking to their peers about what the endowment does for them and what it could do for them, correct?

Jennifer 7:34

That’s absolutely right. And the best part about that is we were able to choose because we had six events, several organizations, and several nonprofit professionals to talk about that.

So, we were able to offer a huge variety in what those look like. So large organizations, small organizations, new organizations, old organizations, some have small endowments, some have very large endowments. But every one of those got to talk to what it means to have an endowment, what it meant for their organization and what they intend to do with that to leverage it into the future. It was a great story, and it was great to hear in so many different ways.

Dan 8:05

Very cool. What are some of the things that these folks do with the checks once they receive them?

Jennifer 8:12

So, that’s a great question because they use it in so many different ways. We heard from a lot of organizations, especially during the pandemic, that the endowment actually saved them through that trying time.

Dan 8:22


Jennifer 8:22

Because that was an that was income that they could count on, they knew was coming their way. They didn’t have to work hard for it. They knew that it was going to get, you know, hit that budget line for them. So, they felt really comfortable being able to do that. And I think them sharing that kind of a story, especially in some of these sessions that we had this year, other organizations got to hear that and thought, wow, my endowment isn’t quite that big that it could support us through a really hard time. Maybe we should work on that and try to get there. So that was inspiring for a lot of people. Some other organizations have an endowment that’s a little bit more complex. It’s got what we call sub-funds, and those are generally funds that are restricted to a particular purpose. So, in general, most endowment funds are for general operations. An organization gets that check, and they get to spend it on wherever they need it, but occasionally they have a donor, or they have an initiative, and they decide we’re going to fund this particular thing with this particular fund. So, every year that check is is that 5% goes out, but it is restricted to a particular purpose for which that was set up.

So, some of those organizations go home with one check, with a whole list of an accounting of what each of those are restricted to. So, they get to be able to put the that particular amount toward that particular use. And it’s very exciting for them. It’s very exciting for those donors when they set that up because they know that they’re doing something that they really care about.

Dan 9:37

Now, do you have do you have nonprofits that prefer to take the check and just reinvest it into their current endowment?

Jennifer 9:44

Yes, we do. Especially in times like today, where the market is a little volatile. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next couple of quarters. And they recognize that sometimes if we don’t need that income for this year, we can put it back into the endowment, and the endowment will rebound and and grow back to where it was prior to the downturn that we saw.

Dan 10:01

I gotcha. Okay. So, Jennifer, you have a a fund portal here at OCCF, which is a secure reporting service, and how could a board member or perhaps a staff member of a non-profit take advantage of that particular fund?

Jennifer 10:14

I love the fund portal. It’s such an amazing tool. Now, this came to be available to us when we moved to a new system just a couple of years ago, and it became a much more comprehensive system than what we can offer.

So, an organization could log on much like you would log into your own bank account or something like that online. But unlike just a bank account that gives you an accounting of what’s in there, it actually gives organizations an accounting of every gift that’s ever been given to their endowment fund.

It also shows them every grant that’s ever gone out in that 5% each year. But the beauty of having all those contributions show up in a list is they have a history of people that have shown with their money that they care about endowment, and they care about this organization’s endowment. So, they have a long history, especially if they’re a long-held fund. They’ve got a history of many, many years of donors directly into their endowment fund, and they can even click on a donor’s name and see every gift that that donor has given to their endowment fund, so it’s a comprehensive list. So, it’s an amazing development tool for people that are looking, perhaps the development directors looking to see who supports our endowment in a really direct way. That list is in there, and they can find it themselves.

Dan 11:19

Oh, that is really interesting. Okay. Fantastic. I guess at this point, is there anything else that you can tell us about the advantages of establishing an endowment with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation?

Jennifer 11:30

Well, I think that we offer a lot more than a lot of our competitors might. We certainly try to be a partner in the community. We want to offer as much training as we can. Now we structure that so that obviously my goal is to grow an endowment. So, a lot of what I talk about is endowment growth. But I think endowment growth comes from being a strong organization. So, we talk about that a lot.

We talk a lot about policies. We talk a lot about personnel. We talk a lot about how to be a strong nonprofit so that you can support an endowment fund so that you can grow that endowment fund and create just an endless supply of income for many, many years.

Dan 12:07

So, if I’m a nonprofit and, you know, I’m, I’m just kind of starting out. I really want to establish an endowment. I see the advantages and I’ve heard of this match program. How does that work?

Jennifer 12:18

Yeah. So, as I mentioned before that Mr. Kirkpatrick, our founder and the founder of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, believed really, really strongly in incentivizing endowment growth. So, to this day, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund offers an opportunity for an organization to apply for a match.

It’s a one-to-three match. The organization sets their own goal, and then once they’re approved, they have a year to hit that goal. Once they do hit that goal, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund moves in $1 for every three that they had committed to. That is like an immediate 33% return on their investment. You’re not going to get that anyplace else.

Dan 12:49


Jennifer 12:50

Even the best investment managers are not going to get that.

Dan 12:53


Jennifer 12:54

So that, that wonderful ability to A.) Get that additional income for your organization, but B.) To incentivize people, to give – donors love matching opportunities. It doesn’t matter how much; they just love the idea that they can amplify their gift with a gift from somebody else.

Dan 13:07

That’s outstanding.

Jennifer 13:07

So being able to market that opportunity to their donor base that says, Hey, if you give today, it’s actually going to be amplified by this gift from the Kirkpatrick Family Fund and is going to go into our endowment forever and support us forever.

Dan 13:22

Well, I’m excited. Later in this program, we’re going to have Dr. Joe Leonard, who’s been a long-time donor with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Jennifer 13:27


Dan 13:28

And we’re going to be talking to Dr. Leonard about his contributions and how excited he gets about helping out some of these non-profits that are looking for a match.

Jennifer 13:37

Well, I’m excited to hear from Dr. Leonard as well. He supports many of our endowment funds and has just been a great, great partner for us over the years.

Dan 13:44

Well, Jennifer, once again, thanks for being with us today. Before I let you go, what’s the best way for a nonprofit or somebody who wishes to support a nonprofit to get information on the Foundation’s endowment program?

Jennifer 13:55

I think the best way would be to call me.

Dan 13:57

What’s your number, Jennifer?

Jennifer 13:58

(405) 606-2951.

Dan 14:01

All right. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Jennifer Meckling. She is here with her team to assist you in any way. Endowment is an exciting way to go. Just continues to build a nonprofit organization’s resources for many years to come. What a great program you run here, Jennifer, and we appreciate you being on the show again.

Jennifer 14:21

Thanks, Dan. Thank you so much for having me in and letting me talk about endowment.

Dan 14:24

Absolutely. Now we want to bring in Liz Charles, the senior program officer with the Kirkpatrick Family Fund. Liz and I will be talking about how the matching program works when a nonprofit is looking to reach a particular goal. Liz, this is your first time on Creating Impact Through Giving. Welcome.

Liz 14:41

Thank you so much.

Dan 14:42

Glad you’re here. So, let’s just dive right in and talk about, you know, how a match works. If a nonprofit has a particular goal, I’ve got to raise X number of dollars. They meet. How do they apply for a match to the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, and how does that work?

Liz 14:57

Yeah, so endowment growing and ensuring that organizations have long-term sustainability is really a priority long time priority of the Kirkpatrick family. And now, in the present for the Family Fund. So qualified organizations can apply through the Family Fund’s grants portal. And it’s a three-to-one match.

And so, for every $3 that an organization raises, the Family Fund will contribute $1 to the organization’s endowment fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Dan 15:31

How does a nonprofit qualify for one of the matching grants, Liz? So, we’re really looking to work with organizations who fall within our areas of interest and within our funding priorities.

Liz 15:35

We fund organizations across central Oklahoma in the areas of arts and humanities, community enhancement, education, health and human services. And you know, we’re really just looking to work with those organizations who are, who are looking to engage their donors, their board of directors. Other prospective donors that they maybe haven’t, haven’t interacted with in a long time.

Dan 16:05

Sure, yeah.

Liz 16:06

To increase the organization’s resiliency through endowment.

Dan 16:11

So, I, I’m, I’m going to guess then that through the years, the the way the matching fund has worked has been pretty, pretty much the same that Mr. Kirkpatrick had envisioned. Nothing’s really been different about that.

Liz 16:22

Yeah, no, no major changes. You know, there are times when we want to do something really special with an organization who has received you know, a really maybe an unexpected bequest or a, you know, a really significant donation and they wanted leverage that to increase the, their endowment. We’ll work with those organizations to create a special match in those opportunities.

And in the early days, you know, there were some one-to-one matches and incentives for organizations to really prioritize establishing an endowment. Of building an endowment. But yeah, for the most part, it’s that three to one match. I will say for the organizations who are looking to establish a new endowment and they want to meet that $40,000 minimum for establishing an endowment fund at OCCF, we waive the three to one match and then turns into a $25,000 contribution from the organization. And then we match that with $15,000 to meet the 40,000.

Dan 17:22

Wow, okay. That is, that is outstanding news for anybody that’s, that’s considering.

Liz 17:26

Makes it a little bit more attainable for sure.

Dan 17:28

Absolutely. Absolutely. Let’s say, you know, I’m, I’m an organization and I’ve decided, hey, I think in order for me to meet a particular goal, I need to, I, I really think I’m going to need some help with a matching fund from or matching grant from the Kirkpatrick Fund.

Is there a time limit that I need to do? I want to talk a little bit about how much time does an organization have to kind of reach a goal and, and tell me a little bit about how that works.

Liz 17:54

Sure thing. So, we have four grant cycles a year and organizations can apply for an endowment match in any one of those four grant cycles. That’s March, June, September and December. And so, they’ll make their way through the letter of inquiry process, the application process, and if their application is approved by our board of trustees, then they will have one year from the date of that approval and that vote to raise their portion of the match.

So, organizations approach this from, you know, a variety of perspectives. A lot of those are a little bit more conservative and they do a lot of the fundraising on the front end before they apply for the match. Just wanting to make sure they will have those funds raised. Others you know, have very strategic asks of particular donors or board members that they’re going to engage. And others say, we’re just going to go for it. We’re going to do this huge annual campaign. We’re going to make it a part of our fundraising strategy throughout the year and really weave it in in these really intentional and strategic ways. You know, all of those options apply when it comes to an organization’s portion of the match, so…

Dan 19:00

What’s interesting, you know one of the things I heard too, when I was working with the folks over at the Parkinson’s Foundation, you know, their board really got behind establishing an endowment and the match, and they got all excited about it and they, next thing you know, they turned around, they had absolutely superseded anything that they had thought about from the beginning, which is terrific.

Liz 19:20

Yeah. I mean, and that really is when we see the most success with organizations we partner with on endowment matching is when its board owned, when the board really understands the importance of this, the value and their role in helping organizations.

Dan 19:34


Liz 19:34

They grow and increase their endowment.

Dan 19:36

So, I know that you know, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund has been doing this for a long time and you’ve helped a lot of organizations meet a particular goal. What kind of feedback do you receive after an organization has, has met their goal? Do you ever get any kind of feedback like that from organizations?

Liz 19:51

We do, and we love it. We love to be a part of an organization’s process and, and kind of seeing all, seeing the progress along the way. So, and we get to celebrate along with them when they meet their goals or when they have unexpected gifts or, you know, surprise gifts or when. Increase or diversify their donor base. That’s really what we’re looking for. We’re looking for an opportunity to leverage the Family Fund match, to incentivize other donors to participate in supporting that organization.

Dan 20:23


Liz 20:24

And so, when we hear those stories, it’s awesome. And then obviously, anything that the Family Fund can do to continue to support the efforts of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, everyone, everyone wins.

Dan 20:33

So, this is kind of a random question, Liz. So, if an organization is really good about that, how often can they go back to the Kirkpatrick Fund and receive the match?

Liz 20:43

That’s a great question because you would be amazed at how little known this is. We have organizations who come to us year after year after year after year for endowment matching. And the majority of those organizations don’t come to us for big, huge contributions. It really is, you know, okay, we’re going to raise $15,000 this year and we’re going to, you know, apply for $5,000 from the Family Fund, or we have those who come to us for $500 every year, or $1,000, or you know, whatever it is, just.

There, it’s, it’s demonstrating a commitment to, even if it’s a little bit of at a time, increasing that organization’s sustainability through prioritizing their endowment.

Dan 21:21

Well that’s excellent.

Liz 21:23

So, yeah.

Dan 21:23

Well, our hope that if, if people are out listening today, I mean, you just heard it from Liz Charles. I mean, this is not just a one-time deal if, if you’re really serious about growing your endowment also through matching funds, then you have the opportunity to do it more than more than once, and you can do it again and again. That’s exciting. Liz, so if an organization is interested in, in raising funds to to meet a certain goal, would they go through like the Oklahoma City Community Foundation first, or would they go through the Kirkpatrick Family Fund? How does that process work?

Liz 21:53

Well, we try to be as helpful and accessible as possible, but it probably makes the most sense for an organization to reach out to the staff at Oklahoma City Community Foundation if they’re interested in establishing a new endowment fund or pursuing a Kirkpatrick Family Fund endowment match for an existing fund.

Either way, you know, the Family Fund staff is also very accessible and happy to answer questions. Jennifer Meckling and I work very closely together to ensure that organizations have the information they need. So, start with Jennifer. Always start with Jennifer cuz she’s brilliant. And, and then she will connect the organization with the Family Fund.

Dan 22:30

That’s great to know. So, I think all of you that are listening, you’ve heard a lot about how to meet a particular goal through matching funds through establishing endowments with the OCCF. So, Liz, thanks for being with us today. It was a pleasure having you on the podcast. And again, if you remember of a nonprofit in the Oklahoma City area and you’re trying to reach a particular goal, you might just qualify for a match to the Kirkpatrick Family Fund. So, Liz, what’s the best way for folks to find more information about their Kirkpatrick matches?

Liz 22:59

The best way is to find us on our website. That is

Dan 23:08 and they’ll find your information there as well.

Liz 23:11

Yes, sir.

Dan 23:12

Well, thanks again for being on our program.

Liz 23:13

Thank you.

Dan 23:15

Now I want to bring in Dr. Joe Leonard. Dr. Leonard has participated in helping several nonprofits reach their goal by contributing to the Kirkpatrick match. Dr. Leonard, welcome to the podcast, Creating Impact Through Giving. We are glad you are here, sir.

Dr. Leonard 23:29

Thank you. It’s good to be here.

Dan 23:30

Yes, sir. So, Dr. Leonard, I know you’ve been a longtime donor to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. What is it about that Kirkpatrick match that prompts you to help nonprofits reach their goal?

Dr. Leonard 23:42

Well, I think the best example I can give you is there’s an organization in Edmond that my wife and I, she basically participated in since early seventies. And after I retired, I started working with her some, and a few years ago realized that even though we’d been with that organization for well over 30 years, had never received a single request for money. Got to looking into it. Well, I guess actually it came out the other way. Joe had told me the about the matching fund. We talked about it, and so I, I talked to this organization about it and learned that the reason they had never had to have a cash-raising campaign was that their finance committee watched what they had, and whenever they had extra, they put it into the foundation. And I think that fund is well over a million dollars now.

Dan 24:31


Dr. Leonard 24:32

And I thought, what a fantastic idea. And so, we began looking for, for ones that did that and have encouraged it in some organizations I’ve been involved in. But I think it’s just a fantastic way. I mean, I, like I say, I the best of my knowledge that come, that particular organization has never had a fundraising drive.

Dan 24:52

And so, they’ve reached the goals this through…

Dr. Leonard 24:54

They’ve reached the goals.

Dan 24:54

That’s exciting.

Dr. Leonard 24:56

I mean, they obviously get funds from some way.

Dan 24:58


Dr. Leonard 24:58

But they then put them into, into the matching fund.

Dan 25:02

Fantastic. So, you know, Oklahoma City is so blessed to have so many nonprofits that are doing a lot of essential work here in the community. How important is it to support these kinds of charitable organizations?

Dr. Leonard 25:13

I guess actions speak louder than words.

Dan 25:16

That’s well put. That’s from Dr. Leonard himself. That’s, that’s a, that’s, that’s exactly right. We have a lot of donors out there that, you know, that really do care about particular, certain, certain causes.

Dr. Leonard 25:28

Oh yeah,

Dan 25:29

What about you, sir? What what are some of the nonprofits that you and your family care about?

Dr. Leonard 25:34

Well, the the Skyline has always been a big one for us.

Dan 25:39

That’s a really good organization.

Dr. Leonard 25:40

But it’s, it’s always interesting to find out others that we are involved with do have those funds out there. In fact, I used to make just a voluntary contribution to the organization I mentioned earlier, and since finding out how they do it, why I’ve said. Let’s let’s just send the money to that rather than sending it to them.

Dan 26:00

Excellent. You know, there seems to be a stigma out there that only wealthy people, you know, have the means to contribute to particular nonprofits or a cause. In your opinion, don’t you think it’s just as meaningful for the $50 or $100 donor to support one of their favorite charities?

Dr. Leonard 26:16

I didn’t start out where I am now.

Dan 26:18

Well, again, well said.

Dr. Leonard 26:20

And I think you decide that something’s important and you’re going to do it. And you’re absolutely right. Yeah. I mean, here’s whether it’s a dime or $1,000, but something just to get in the habit of doing it.

Dan 26:32

Absolutely. Dr. Leonard, what kind of feeling do you get when you know an organization had met its financial goals thanks to that Kirkpatrick match, knowing that you’ve helped contribute somehow?

Dr. Leonard 26:43

Well, it’s, it’s obviously a good feeling. I don’t know how often I ever stop and think about, well, geez, I did it because of what I did. Maybe. At times think, well, without people doing something, they wouldn’t make it. But it’s obviously a feeling that my wife and I both felt was well worthwhile and made an effort to do it. And we’re glad to have the Oklahoma City Foundation available at the point in our lives when we were able to do it.

Dan 27:09

Excellent. That’s really all the questions I have for you today, sir. I appreciate you being on the podcast. You know, it’s it takes donors like you, sir, to, you know, to help make the world go round in this community. And there are a lot of nonprofits that need a little extra push, and we really appreciate all the help that you and your family have done for so many organizations here in Oklahoma City. Thank you.

Dr. Leonard 27:29

Well, it’s been my pleasure.

Dan 27:30

And thanks for being here today.

Dr. Leonard 27:31

Thank you for asking.

Dan 27:33

Well, that about wraps it up today. I want to thank all of you for listening. You know, our nonprofit community is vital and provides many essential services to thousands and thousands of individuals every single day. If you’re a nonprofit and would like to learn more about establishing an endowment with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, please reach out to Jennifer Meckling here at the Foundation. She and her team are more than happy to assist you. Or perhaps you’re a nonprofit trying to raise some funds and would like to learn more about how the Kirkpatrick match works. We can assist you there too.

Join us again next month for another edition of Creating Impact Through Giving. We’re going to talk about qualified charitable distributions, better known as QCDs. A QCD allows a donor to provide maximum benefit for their favorite charity and reduce their taxable income. Our guests will include Julie Dais and Laura Moon, both of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. And we’re going to dive pretty deep into this topic. Until then, I’m Dan Martel, and we’ll see you again on Creating Impact Through Giving.

Episode 18 Transcript: Getting to the Root of City Beautification

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 18: Getting to the Root of City Beautification

Dan Martel 0:29

Hello, I’m Dan Martel and welcome back to Creating Impact Through Giving. If you look around the Oklahoma City metro area today, you’ll notice how beautiful some of our city and neighborhood parks are. Look how the medians along some of our streets look and how great so many of our public spaces look. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been helping our community through beautification projects for the last several years, and it’s all due in part to leadership and dedicated staff that continue to help make that happen.

It really took off back in the early 90s, when a local school teacher named Margaret Annis Boys passed away and left $1.5 million to the Community Foundation. Miss Boys wanted to create an endowment to fund projects that would beautify and care for public parks and medians throughout Oklahoma City. The Community Foundation has honored her final wishes ever since. In this episode, we’ll talk to Lanc Gross, who is the Oklahoma City Community Foundation Parks and Wellness Programs Manager. Also on today’s podcast, we’re happy to have Scott Copelin. Scott is the natural resources manager with OKC Parks’ Natural Resources Division. Well, let’s jump to it. I want to welcome Lanc Gross back to Creating Impact Through Giving. Lanc, welcome.

Lanc Gross 1:40

Great to be here.

Dan Martel 1:41

Lanc, you’ve been with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for several months now, and today we are talking about the importance and the impact that beautification can have on our city. The OCCF has certainly done its part by awarding grants to all kinds of park and public space projects, correct?

Lanc Gross 1:56

That is correct, yes.

Dan Martel 1:57

Can you tell us a little bit about the process, Lanc? How does one apply for a grant from the Community Foundation if they have a project that would help their own neighborhood park or some other type of beautification project?

Lanc Gross 2:08

Sure. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation has grant applications that people can submit for beautification projects within neighborhoods. It’s a very simple process. They can go to the website and download the information sheet that talks about the process and how to work through it. Essentially, the first thing that they need to do is just give us a call to kind of talk through and see what type of project they want to do, because we like to vet the projects before they actually submit the application.

Dan Martel 2:38

Okay. That makes sense. Save some time on their end too, as well, just in case. Yeah.

Lanc Gross 2:42

Exactly because they may have an idea for something that may not qualify for what we provide funding for.

Dan Martel 2:49

Tell us about the role you play in this particular process.

Lanc Gross 2:52

Sure. What I basically do is talk with the individuals who are interested in submitting an application, just kind of find out exactly what they want to do. We try to guide them into a certain direction so that it meets our qualifications. For the most part they do go along with what we’re wanting or requesting them to do. Once they do that we’ll provide them with a link to submit everything online, which is a very simple process. What I do for the Community Foundation is manage and make sure that these things run smoothly.

Dan Martel 3:29

Okay. Are there specific times throughout the year when people can apply for park grants through the Community Foundation?

Lanc Gross 3:34

Yes. We have a grant cycle twice a year. The first one is right at the beginning of the year, around the middle of January. Then the second one comes around, in the middle of July. It works out pretty good for the tree planting because there’s a certain time of year between usually about Thanksgiving, till early spring that we really want them to plant trees at that time. We try to set that schedule up so that it works out good.

Dan Martel 4:03

Excellent. What are some of the other projects that are kind of in the works right now that the Foundation has helped fund?

Lanc Gross 4:10

There’s been a really good one that came about, it’s for The Friends of Choctaw Park. They completed a Monarch Way Station, which is essentially a butterfly garden. One individual’s putting all this together, and it just turned out just great. The second one that was really interesting here in Central Oklahoma was a story walk project at a local library. The city of Bethany. It’s associated with a park that’s right adjacent to it. Essentially what they’ve done is taken a book apart and put it at different locations within the trail that circles the park. People can walk, get a little exercise, but also read a book as they go. It’s a great, great project. I think it’s really the first one here in Central Oklahoma.

Dan Martel 4:57

So, who does determine which applications are chosen over others? I know you guys receive a lot of applications. Does this depend on the type of project that one wants to accomplish? How do you all decide?

Lanc Gross 5:10

Yeah, that’s a great question. It is dependent upon the type of project that that we’re looking for and if it meets all the grant requirements as well. We have a committee internal and also external that’ll go through these projects. They’re all evaluated based upon a point system that we use to grade these things. It’s not basically we like this one. We don’t like that one. We do have some numbers associated with it.

Dan Martel 5:37

One of the larger endeavors recently was a project called ReLeaf. How did that come about and tell me how people benefited.

Lanc Gross 5:44

Sure, the ReLeaf project came about because of the 2020 ice storm that we had and also the subzero temperatures that occurred in February of 2021. The combination of those two really had a real negative impact on the trees here in Oklahoma. What we’ve done is develop a process where people can actually replant trees that they had lost. Not necessarily on private property, but within neighborhood associations within the common areas. If a neighborhood came to us and said, okay, we’ve lost 10 trees here in this location. We would fund them to plant the trees.

Dan Martel 6:28

All right. Well, that sounds like it was another hugely successful endeavor that the Community Foundation undertook and implemented and it made a lot of people happy. I guess they got some of their trees back, which is great.

Lanc Gross 6:41

Exactly. I think there was probably about 400 trees that were planted.

Dan Martel 6:44

Excellent. Now in addition to parks and neighborhoods, what are some of the other types of organizations that are eligible to apply for these kind of grants?

Lanc Gross 6:52

We work with local parks departments to replace trees that were damaged. We’ve worked with Myriad Gardens to replace trees that were damaged as well. Other nonprofit organizations as well, or foundations can also apply.

Dan Martel 7:07

Okay. Final question I want to ask you, what does the future look like for Oklahoma City parks and neighborhood parks?

Lanc Gross 7:14

Yeah. That’s a great question. You know, you think about this. I’ve been involved in municipal government for the past 30 years and seen a real disinvestment, probably the first 20 years, but over the past 10 -15 years the City of Oklahoma has really started to put more into their capital improvement projects; building new parks, upgrading things. The deferred maintenance that has gone on for so long has really turned around. They’ve included projects within bond issue projects, within the MAPS projects. It appears though, the city leaders have really understood the importance of having a good park system here and something that’s well maintained as well. Which benefits everybody because it really comes down to the quality of life here in Oklahoma City.

Dan Martel 8:06

Well, and it’s funny, I guess if you go back 30 – 40 years, you kind of looked around Oklahoma City and it didn’t seem to be the most attractive city in the country. Through the years and through the work that the Community Foundation continues to do with their Parks and Public Space Initiatives we are really looking like an incredibly beautiful city the more and more we see things popping up. I think this only contributes to people taking care of their own neighborhood parks and investing and doing what they do to keep families together and invite visitors in. That’s all impressive. Lanc, if people are listening, what’s the best way for them to find out about the park grants offered through the Oklahoma City Community Foundation?

Lanc Gross 8:48

Sure. The best way to do that is to go to That is the location that they can find out all the information that they need to know about making an application for that grant. My phone number’s there as well. They can give me a call and talk to me about a project. I will be more than happy to work them through the process and discuss any issues or questions that they have.

Dan Martel 9:17

All right, if you’re living in a neighborhood in and around Oklahoma City and you have a little neighborhood park, you’ve got a project that you’re interested in seeing that thing upgraded and would like to apply for a grant, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation’s website again it’s Feel free to reach out or give Lanc Gross a call. Lanc, thanks for being on the podcast today. We certainly hope that people will take advantage of all the work the Community Foundation continues to do for the city, especially when it comes to our parks and public spaces. Thanks again for being here.

Lanc Gross 9:47

Thanks for having me.

Dan Martel 9:49

Also, with us today is Scott Copelin. Scott does oversee the design, construction and landscape maintenance at Memorial Park, as well as oversees the maintenance at Will Rogers Gardens, both here in Oklahoma City. Welcome to our podcast today, Scott, thanks for being here.

Scott Copelin 10:03

Hey, thanks for inviting me. I appreciate it.

Dan Martel 10:05

So, tell us a little bit about your job. What do you do Scott?

Scott Copelin 10:08

I’ve actually worked for the Oklahoma City Parks Department for almost 20 years now. I started back in 1995. I worked there for about 14 years as the park planner, so my background’s landscape architecture. Then about 14 years into it, it was time for a change. I actually went to the MAPS department and worked on MAPS projects for like MAPS For Kids. Then when MAPS3 came around, actually Scissortail Park was my project that I was working on. Then all of the multi-use trails were projects that I worked on too. It was a lot of fun. A lot of experience. I got to meet a lot of cool people, do a lot of cool stuff. Then during the process of doing the park, I got to meet the new parks director. Then the lady who’s now the parks director who was in my position at the time, she was a natural resource manager, she became the assistant director. One day I went down and I told her I wanted her job since she left to become the assistant director. Here I am now.

It’s been great. I feel very fortunate to have the job I have. It’s a great job. It’s fun. It’s never the same on any day. I mean, it’s awesome. As a natural resource manager, I oversee the fish hatchery. We’re the only city in the state, maybe in the region or country I’ve been told, that actually has a fish hatchery. We supply little fish for all the close to home waters and all the big lakes in Oklahoma City. It’s really cool. It’s about making fishing better in Oklahoma City. That’s what we try to do. We work really closely with the wildlife department. We manage field horticulture. Field horticulture maintains over 60 acres of grass and over 500,000 square feet of planting beds within the park system. We maintain city hall, Bicentennial Park, municipal courts, a lot of medians, Oklahoma Boulevard, First American museum. We maintain all of that now, which is my vision.

Dan Martel 11:57

Well, I mean really, a lot of the beautification that we we see across the city, you’ve had a hand in quite a bit of it.

Scott Copelin 12:05


Dan Martel 12:06

That’s excellent.

Scott Copelin 12:06

That’s, what’s fun about it.

Dan Martel 12:07

Absolutely. Will Rogers Park is where the Margaret Annis Boys Arboretum is located.

Scott Copelin 12:11


Dan Martel 12:12

When was that Arboretum named after Miss Boys? How did that all happen? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Scott Copelin 12:16

I don’t know the whole story. I know part of it. I know in about 2009, it was actually dedicated to the Margaret Annis Boys Trust Arboretum. Before that the Oklahoma Community Foundation helped fund walking trail that goes through the gardens, which is, that was a game changer for the whole park. Before that came along, it kind of had a bad reputation because of things that happened in the park. As soon as they built the trail, more people came into the park, into the garden and we don’t have hardly any problems anymore inside the garden. The trail that was put in with Margaret Annis Boy’s Trust money was a game changer for the garden. I will tell you that.

Dan Martel 12:54

Well, I know that the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has awarded grants to both Will Rogers Park and Memorial Park.

Scott Copelin 13:00


Dan Martel 13:00

In addition to the trail that you just mentioned at Will Rogers, what are some of the other projects that you were part of? I know you’ve had a long relationship with the Foundation and with some of the folks that have worked in our parks and public spaces.

Scott Copelin 13:12

Brian Dougherty, I’ve known Brian for a long time.

Dan Martel 13:15


Scott Copelin 13:16

But then who doesn’t know Brian as well?

Dan Martel 13:17

Of course. What are some of the other projects that come to mind?

Scott Copelin 13:22

When I first took over this job we actually did some entrance markers that we worked with Brian on. We put these giant boulders with a bronze plaque on them to tell a little bit about the Margaret Annis Boys Trust and the trail and all that. That was one. There’s tree planting projects that have gone on, and then more recently we’ve added what we call the Memory Garden inside Will Rogers Garden. It was our first big project that the Friends of Will Rogers worked with the Community Foundation on. We’re close to completing that. It’s over a hundred-thousand-dollar project. It’s an awesome little project. In fact, we’re finishing up the little fountain in the garden right now. That’s going to be really cool. I encourage everybody to come out and see it. That was the last big thing that we worked on with the Community Foundation. We’re looking at other things down the road too. We’re looking at expanding, we’re actually working on a master plan for the entire garden right now that we want to work real closely with the Community Foundation.

Dan Martel 14:18

Excellent. That is fantastic. You know Brian just retired. I think his last week with us was just a couple of weeks ago. With Lanc Gross taking over, I know that Lanc has got all kinds of things coming up.

Scott Copelin 14:28

Lanc is awesome.

Dan Martel 14:29

You guys are going to have a good relationship I’m sure with whatever we end up funding. The large water fountain located at Memorial Park was non-functioning for what seemed to be decades. It’s now working. Do you know anything about that project?

Scott Copelin 14:42

I know a lot about the project.

Dan Martel 14:43

Okay. Well tell us about it.

Scott Copelin 14:44

The fountain is, I think it’s close to 90 years old to my recollection. It was they right before I came back to the parks department, the park planners did a design in the garden and they redid all the area around it. They had planting beds, they had a little DG area that’s around the fountain. The DG has become kind of a nightmare in way because what happens, people throw the gravel into the fountain and then it gets into the pump and then the pump stops. It’s always a series of it’s working, then it’s not working. Then it’s working, it’s not working. Then the fountain itself was so old that it had developed some big cracks in it and stuff. That’s the last thing that was a huge help with, from the Community Foundation. They paid for the restoration of the fountain itself and it’s beautiful. They filled the cracks, it works. We’ve done work on the pump itself. It has a new pump in it now. It should be running for a long time.

One of the things I would like to do in the future is actually get rid of the DG and put it in a solid paving. Then you don’t have any problems with any other stuff going in it. We’re also looking at doing irrigation to the beds. The beds never had irrigation. One of the big things that I believe in, every planting bed that we have should have irrigation. The goal down the road is to use less water, but to get things established, it’s the best and easiest way to do things. We’re looking at doing that throughout the park system on things that we work on.

Dan Martel 16:03

Well, I can tell you that just driving down Western Avenue in Oklahoma City and looking over and seeing that beautiful fountain functioning.

Scott Copelin 16:08

Oh, it’s awesome.

Dan Martel 16:11

It’s incredible.

Scott Copelin 16:12

Oh, I agree.

Dan Martel 16:13

I’m sure it’s drawing a lot of new people to the park that…

Scott Copelin 16:15

I guarantee you.

Dan Martel 16:16

Drove by for many years and said, well, what’s the point, but now that’s the point.

Scott Copelin 16:21

Well, the other thing at Memorial Park too though, is there’s a parking lot on the north side of the park we did get a little money from the Community Foundation. I don’t know. I can’t remember the exact amount, but we put in a rain garden for the parking lot. That’s a great project too. We’re going to be landscaping it pretty soon. We’re able to make that better too. Everything’s getting better.

Dan Martel 16:39

You all maintain softscape and hardscape at Will Roger’s Park. What does that entail? I’m not sure our listeners really know what the difference between a softscape and a hardscape is. Tell us what that is.

Scott Copelin 16:50

It’s easy. Hardscape is more like your concrete paving, concrete pavers, anything that’s hard that you walk on or like that. Softscape is your landscape beds basically. It’s really simple.

Dan Martel 17:02

Okay. Well now everybody out there that’s listening you know the difference between softscape and hardscape. What types of improvements do you all do at the Margaret Annis Boys Arboretum?

Scott Copelin 17:11

We now irrigate it because we finally, this past year actually put in a sprinkler system for the very first time in the entire garden. We spent a lot of money. We now get to irrigate everything, which is a game changer. We’re looking at doing more under story plantings, more bed plantings. We just we did the wind harp, that was a Community Foundation project too, which is awesome. We mow, irrigate and plant trees.

Dan Martel 17:40

You know, Scott, you mentioned just a few minutes ago that there was a time that Will Rogers park seemed to be in decay. That was sort of unsafe. A lot of people weren’t going to the park. Was it the trails that was the turnaround for that park?

Scott Copelin 17:52

I think so. It got more people in the park. That’s the one thing, if you know things about the park systems in general, the more people that visit a park, the less problems you have with vandalism and other stuff. We encourage everybody to get out and go to their park. The thing that’s really cool about it too, is that parks are for everybody up until 11 o’clock at night, then they close.

Dan Martel 18:14

Well, Scott, thanks for being with us today. I appreciate it.

Scott Copelin 18:16

You bet.

Dan Martel 18:16

I know you guys continue to do wonderful things to keep both Memorial Park and Will Rogers Park looking beautiful as well as some of the other parks all over our city. We continue to attract families and visitors for their unique offerings and you and your team have done a great job, keeping that Margaret Annis Boy’s legacy alive. We do appreciate that. It all started with an endowment she created and today the Foundation continues to foster her wishes with the help of folks like you. Thanks for being here, Scott. We do appreciate having you on.

Scott Copelin 18:43

Yeah, you’re welcome. Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.

Dan Martel 18:46

Well, that wraps us up today. We hope you learned a little bit about beautification and what it means to our city and for our neighborhood parks. Anybody can leave an impact in their community. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation took the idea of a retired school teacher named Margaret Annis Boys, and continue to fulfill her wishes every day into perpetuity, by awarded grants, to a variety of parks and public spaces all across the metro area. Join us again next month when we’ll have a special podcast for all of you as I interview the brand new President and CEO of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Trisha Finnegan. As you know, Nancy, Anthony served as our president here at the Community Foundation for 37 years. We now look to a future with a new leader. We will talk to Trisha about her vision for the Community Foundation and the future impact it will have on the OKC community. We look forward to having her on board and on this podcast.

I want to thank Lanc Gross and Scott Copelin for being with us today. We look forward to having you back with us next month. Until then, I’m Dan Martel. Thanks for listening to Creating Impact Through Giving. Have a fantastic week.

Episode 19 Transcript: One on One with Trisha Finnegan

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 19: One on One with Trisha Finnegan

Dan Martel 0:28

Hello, I’m Dan Martel and welcome back to Creating Impact Through Giving. Change is in the air throughout Oklahoma City, particularly within the nonprofit sector. We’ve had a change in leadership at many high-profile entities, such as Allied Arts, the Arts Council, Skyline Urban Ministry to name just a few. Well, another high-profile community leader, Nancy Anthony has also retired after 37 years of service with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Today, I have the honor of introducing you to the Community Foundation’s new President and CEO, Trisha Finnegan. Trisha comes to Oklahoma City via Louisville, where she spent several years with the Community Foundation of Louisville, most recently as the senior vice president chief strategy officer. With that, I’d like to introduce and welcome Trisha Finnegan to Creating Impact Through Giving. Trisha, welcome and thanks for being with us today.

Trisha Finnegan 1:17

Well hello. It’s an absolute pleasure, and this is my first time.

Dan Martel 1:21

We’re glad you’re here. Trisha, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been a bright spot in the city for more than 50 years now, and the future of the Foundation is now even brighter that you’re on board. Thanks for being here.

Trisha Finnegan 1:32

Well, thank you. Since we’re on a podcast, you can’t see that, that makes me smile really big, but for those of you, hopefully you can hear it in my voice. I am thrilled to be here. Thank you.

Dan Martel 1:41

Fantastic. Trisha, I want to just jump right into some of the questions. What was it about the Oklahoma City Community Foundation that attracted you to consider applying for the position in the first place?

Trisha Finnegan 1:52

Good question. Very good question. The answer may not be what you would expect. I received outreach from several folks. I worked with community foundation colleagues all across the country. The beautiful thing about community foundations is we are not in competition with one another. We support one another. That means a network of people who are doing similar things in many different places that are a resource for one another. I received outreach from several colleagues in the field. I have the chance to work with them and folks across the country of Canada. They said, you’ve got to take a look at this role.

So, what actually initially attracted me was trust. Because people I trust made a recommendation to me, and that matters. So, while I wasn’t looking for this opportunity, I was working, doing great things where I was, because people I trusted said, you should take a look at this, I took a look. Then certainly once I took a look, the role itself, what the Trustees did to outline their hopes for the future and the opportunity to build on the legacy, well, then that was obviously…from there, it was very, very simple. The initial piece was actually several people saying, take a look. This sounds like you to me. That’s what opened my eyes.

Dan Martel 3:08

And here you are today.

Trisha Finnegan 3:09

And here we are today.

Dan Martel 3:10

That’s great. I want to jump in and talk a little bit about a community foundation. What does the Community Foundation do here in this city? We do get a lot of questions from people that truly don’t know who we are, what we do. Let’s talk a little bit about that. Tell us in your words, Trisha, what a community foundation does.

Trisha Finnegan 3:28

Well, first I’ll say it is so common that people don’t necessarily know or understand a community foundation. That is common to every community and every community foundation. The reason I think that is, Dan, is because community foundations are designed to really lift, invest and support the people in the place that they are tied to. In that way, a community foundation in Sacramento or Austin or Boston or a smaller community foundation, or a community foundation in a rural area is going to look different than another community foundation. I think some of that lack of awareness comes from, or understanding comes from the fact that we’re all a little bit different, right? It’s not one recipe. That I think contributes, but what is a community foundation?

A community foundation is an asset, it’s a resource, it’s an organization, it’s a group of people that invest in a place and the people who live there. Quite simply, that is what a community foundation is and does. It brings together people from all across the community to contribute to that. It might look like support for education/scholarships. It might look like policy change. It might look like work on affordable housing or building a cultural sector. Again, it’s responding to the dynamic needs of a community and bringing many, many people together to contribute to what a community needs. That to me is what a community foundation is and does.

Dan Martel 4:57

So, what do you think the most important thing that people in the community should know about the Community Foundation, particularly here in Oklahoma City?

Trisha Finnegan 5:04

Yeah. I think number one, we’re here, we’re here for you. We’re here for everyone. We are committed to this place, which by the way, as I learn more and more, I have to tell you, I really love it here. There’s so much to love about Oklahoma City, and this community is growing, but we are here and we’re here to improve lives. We’re here for the long haul. Something else that I think is really important, particularly about Oklahoma City Community Foundation and Oklahoma City Community Foundation right now is something that the Trustees…we are overseen by a group of individuals that are committed and connected to this community and they are our Trustees, but they set forth that they would like to see OCCF increase our impact, be innovative and really be committed and relevant to this community in new ways. That’s something that’s really important to know about us right now.

The second thing I would say is we are committed as a staff team and as a trustee team and a set of volunteers, we are committed to elevating our impact. You’re going to see more of us. You’re going to feel more of us. You’re going to hear more from us. Those are the two things that I think would be really important to know about us right now. In another year, it might be something else, but that’s, what’s beautiful is we’ll keep evolving.

Dan Martel 6:19

Absolutely. That is the beauty of that too. I agree with you. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation has thousands of donors. They’ve opened up funds and scholarships, and we’ve seen several established endowments. We’ve seen many different initiatives developed through the Foundation. How do we continue to attract that next generation of donors? Because if we think about it, the donors of what made it all possible to give back to the community, how do we attract that next generation?

Trisha Finnegan 6:44

I love this. I love talking about this. One of the things I alluded to already is meeting changing needs. Nothing is static. Everything is changing. And so, to attract people, we need to make sure that we are adjusting to meeting the changing needs. If the community has a need and we’re not responding then that doesn’t make us relevant. Again, being relevant, meeting changing needs, and one of the things that’s really compelling and we have to make sure people know is we can do more together than apart. You can do more in working with a community foundation, than you can on your own. It’s very, very simple, but that matters. That attracts people. We can certainly accept unique assets, real estate, stock, et cetera. There’s a certain number of those things that make us really relevant. But another thing that makes us unique is that we can connect people to opportunities.

We are knowledgeable, we’ve got staff working all across the city. We’ve got, again, volunteers, Trustees, partners that we work with and in doing so we know where good things are happening in this community. Someone else who may be leading a business or leading a family or many other things that we’re doing in our day to day lives, folks aren’t spending their full work week knowing where there are good things happening in this community. In that way, OCCF is a connector to people. Dan, if I were to ask you, what do you care about? What impact do you want to make? Then if I listen to that, a community foundation can connect you to where you can create that change.

Dan Martel 8:19

Absolutely. That really leads me into the next question. I think that is a perfect segue. What can we tell younger people today about the importance of philanthropy? I look at young people today and I see a more giving spirit.

Trisha Finnegan 8:30

Well, I think you said something really important. You said you see a giving spirit. I don’t know that the word philanthropy really matters, right? That’s a word.

Dan Martel 8:38

Sure. It’s a big word too.

Trisha Finnegan 8:39

It’s that giving spirit. It’s that sense of many cultures honor principles of collective work, unity, caring for others, community, sharing a harvest – these principles go back generations. To me the word philanthropy, sometimes language can be a barrier. What do I think we can do to talk to younger people about the importance of philanthropy? I actually think younger people are already really connected, so I’m more interested in listening, and I’m more interested in observing and seeing people act. I’m seeing people in their twenties, in their thirties, people in their teens, more active, more engaged, stronger advocates, more giving than any generation I’ve seen before. To me, it’s a matter of listening and learning and watching and seeing some of the ways that they’re already giving and figuring out how we can share the tools that we have. Because if we talk about philanthropy, it’s another tool. To me, it’s about listening, observing, working, meeting people where they are, but also sharing the tools that we have that people may not be as familiar with. To me, that’s our obligation and responsibility.

Dan Martel 9:55

I think you’re absolutely right. I love that too, especially when you said just a few minutes ago, how we can connect people to certain passions that they might be interested in. It would be terrific to start engaging a lot of these younger folks in the community too. I want to jump into, you’ve come from Louisville, Kentucky. I hope I pronounced that right. You know, a lot of people have a hard time with that word.

Trisha Finnegan 10:17

You did a great job.

Dan Martel 10:18


Trisha Finnegan 10:19


Dan Martel 10:20

You were at the Community Foundation of Louisville for several years. Are there similarities to the one here in OKC, and maybe what are some of the significant differences between the two?

Trisha Finnegan 10:30

Absolutely. There’s certainly similarities. The first one that pops to mind is really the heart of the staff. You know, the people that do this work every day care very, very deeply. That is a huge similarity between OCCF and Community Foundation of Louisville. The second one that pops immediately to mind is our Trustees. We have a group of people who volunteer with us, who are connected, committed, knowledgeable, representing all different individuals and sectors of this community. Those are two very strong similarities.

Another one, which maybe isn’t necessarily a positive, but it is a similarity is that people who work with us and know us often see our value. But as you alluded to earlier, there’s so many people who don’t know about us, who don’t know what our work makes possible. Unfortunately, that’s a similarity as well, which we have the opportunity to work on. As far as some difference, there are some differences. Certainly again, what comes to mind quickly is size. OCCF has been around longer, has more assets, more folks that we work with. It’s a larger foundation, a larger footprint. That’s one pretty straightforward difference.

Another difference is, and this is actually one of the main reasons that the Trustees selected me to come and join you in your work is the Community Foundation of Louisville was really engaged in our community. Very deep engagement, listening, community driven needs, looking at issues and opportunities, certainly looking at issues of justice and equity. These were priorities in Louisville. Looking at what communities are grappling with. The Community Foundation of Louisville was really forward in being in community, having our sleeves up and helping to drive and work through issues that were prominent in our community. That’s a little bit different from the way that OCCF has operated.

The second thing I would say is the Community Foundation of Louisville was a really strong partner. You’ll very often hear me talk about people doing more together than apart. I believe our communities deserve their very best resources and no one group of people, no one sector has enough resource to solve and to really advance our community’s priorities. And so, one of the focuses in Community Foundation of Louisville was on partnership and how do we bring people together to do more? Those are a couple of things that I would say are opportunities.

Dan Martel 13:10

Absolutely. Okay. Recently, Oklahoma City was named the 20th largest city in America, which is a huge leap from where we were before. How does the Community Foundation take advantage of that as we continue to move forward as an organization?

Trisha Finnegan 13:24

You know, the 2010 to 2020 census for Oklahoma City is powerful. Folks haven’t looked at the growth in that way. It is really fascinating. That’s something that actually is a huge benefit. Being new to a community don’t take for granted your understanding. You rely on data, you rely on conversations, you talk to people. Looking at it objectively, the growth has been tremendous. This community between 2010 and 2020. Again, those are my data points, just in the census but in speaking with people and watching the development and looking at the maps work, oh my goodness, this community and our investment in ourselves, I’m already flipping to the “our.” I’m not taking credit, but it does feel like home so I’m already saying “our.” I’m catching myself, but our investment in ourselves is unique. How do we, you said, take advantage of the growth? One is I’ll call to attention that the growth is twofold. It’s both economic and it’s in population. Those are two different forms. You can have one without the other etc.

Dan Martel 14:25

Absolutely. That’s right. You bet.

Trisha Finnegan 14:28

Those are two forms, but I will say that growth has been good for many. I think it’s important to be honest, it has not been good for all or equally good for all.

Dan Martel 14:36

That’s right.

Trisha Finnegan 14:37

The second thing is growth is great, but we have to be mindful of if and how we sustain it, right? Because ups and downs can be difficult booms and busts. This community knows well, booms and bust they cause challenges. What I would say is let’s be excited about our growth, both economic and population, and let’s focus on how do we make that growth good for as many of us as possible? How do we help sustain it? That’s exactly where the Community Foundation comes in. We are in service to this community. We take the long view. We are going nowhere. I will only be in this seat for so long. You may only be in your seat for so long, but the Foundation will be here.

How does a community foundation help? We are positioned to help because we have the long view. We have exposure as I mentioned, a few minutes ago. We have so much exposure to what’s happening across the community. With that, we can then make sure that we’re sharing that information, make sure that we’re engaging people. Lastly, what I would say, and this excites me the most is we can inspire others to join us. If we know what’s happening, if we know what the community needs are, if we’re listening to our nonprofit partners, our civic partners, then we can share those opportunities with corporations, other foundations, individual donors, and we can really inspire people to join us. To me, that’s what we can do as the, now 20th largest city.

Dan Martel 16:05

I think you’re absolutely correct. It’s interesting too, you mentioned the growth of the city from 2010 to 2020; even prior the city has been very fortunate to have leadership that has continued to push the city forward. I think that the Community Foundation, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is really this bright light that I kind of look at that sits in the city that more and more people need to take advantage of. From what you’ve seen since you’ve been here, it’s been a few weeks, only been a few weeks. Do you see the Community Foundation doing things differently now than perhaps they’ve done in the past looking forward?

Trisha Finnegan 16:43

We will. Of course we will. I have a business background and anyone who runs a business, anyone who runs a nonprofit, anyone who leads, you must continue to evolve. We all must. I absolutely see that we will continue to evolve. How? We’ll see, we’ll talk about that. When we talk about community foundations across the board, I would like to just make a mention, because sometimes I think we focus on what we are doing, but we don’t necessarily know how that relates to what other community foundations might be doing, and I think it’s important because it represents a big shift.

I’ll just take a moment to say that generally speaking, community foundations, which are well over a hundred years old as an institution, they started by working with individual families, individuals perhaps that had wealth that they wanted to invest. That was really our focus for a very long time, as a field, not just at OCCF, but across the board. Over time Community Foundations realized because of the people that work with us because of our insights into what’s happening, we can partner with people, we can partner with individuals and families, but we can do so much more. As a field, community foundations really have moved in that direction, and I see OCCF doing the same.

Dan Martel 18:08

Outstanding. If you could look into the future one year, five years, maybe even 10 years from now, what do you see the Community Foundation’s role being in Oklahoma City?

Trisha Finnegan 18:18

Well, Dan, you mentioned this is being recorded nearly my first week. I think today’s day seven. I think it’s a little too soon for me to say what we’ll do in one, five and 10 years, but I can tell you about my approach. I think OCCF should be meaningfully supporting this community, Oklahoma City and beyond, in reaching our aspirations. That statement, I will stand by. The how is yet to be determined and how will we determine that is really important to me. It’s going to start with a word you’ve heard me say a few times, it’s going to start with listening. Listening, seeking, exploring, learning, I believe in a principle that I call the highest and best use. Highest and best use of my time, your time, our staff. Highest and best use of our resource. Highest and best use of the resources that folks have entrusted to us.

Some folks still living, some folks passed on. And so, to know what the highest and best use of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, for me as a newcomer to say what we’ll be doing in five to 10 years, my approach will be to build that and to build that through listening, seeking, learning, growing and seeking out our highest and best use to this community. That’s my promise that we will take that approach. I also will promise that I’ll come back to you and share the details directly with you one on one and for the airwaves. But for right now, I think what we should focus on committing to is meaningfully supporting this community in reaching our aspirations and in being really thoughtful about how we set out to do that.

Dan Martel 20:11

Trisha, I think you’ve done a great job wrapping that up. I do want one more question. Based on what you just said, what are the immediate plans? How soon is all this change going to happen?

Trisha Finnegan 20:20

Well, I’m glad you asked. There’s a long history here. What I would love to draw credit to is the fact that I have the opportunity to lead this organization and build on a tremendous legacy. The staff, the Trustees, both current and previous we have had leadership from a tremendous leader in Nancy Anthony for 37 years. Nancy’s legacy of leading, of charting new paths, of carrying a really small resource into a critical community asset, my immediate plans are to accept that torch and to really elevate and accelerate how we take the resource that we have and how we make it even more meaningful to this community. I’ve got to take what we have and I’ve got to make it better. Those are my immediate plans center there.

Dan Martel 21:15

Well, I think that is incredible of you to say. I know Nancy Anthony would appreciate those kind words as well. She, you’re right. She was here for a long time and that is a big torch to carry. So good for you that exciting.

Trisha Finnegan 21:27

Absolutely. I feel it.

Dan Martel 21:29

You can feel it.

Trisha Finnegan 21:30


Dan Martel 21:30

I know you’ve been busy being introduced to people all over the city, and I don’t know how you have time to even breathe for five minutes, because you’ve been in meeting after meeting, after meeting with various civic and political leaders throughout the city. If somebody wants to get in touch with you, I mean, I know you’re very transparent. Your door is open. What’s the best way for them to reach you?

Trisha Finnegan 21:52

I hope people do. I will say that people have been so welcoming and so warm and forthright. One of the earliest meetings I took, someone said, I want to tell you something that OCCF isn’t doing, and that’s just as helpful, right? So yes, the door is open. The phones are open. Now I feel like we’re having a telethon. The phones are open. Our doors are open and an easy platform to keep up with us is our website; is a great way to engage. The pod, the cast here is a great way to engage, but also, every single staff person at the Foundation, our email is on our website. We are here for you. Whether it’s popping an email to me or to a staff member, whether it’s setting time for a meeting, whether it’s making us aware of something you know that’s happening in the community. Certainly the website is our front door and it gets us right to staff members, including myself. I welcome it. I look forward to it, and I have a lot of energy. I’ve been, even in my free time, Dan, I’ve been driving around to different parts of the community to learn and see how people live, what people are doing, how the schools are different, how the parks are different. I’m hungry, I’m eager, I’m excited to learn more and folks should feel very, very welcome.

Dan Martel 23:11

Well, thank you so much. I hope we can do this again, Trisha. Obviously, we want to let you get your feet a little deeper into the community and would love to have you back on to kind of get an assessment in a few months after you’ve been here for a while, but we really enjoyed having you on the podcast today. Thank you for being here.

Trisha Finnegan 23:28

It’s a pleasure and you guys have heard it, Dan has committed to having me back. now he’s got to do it.

Dan Martel 23:32

I’m going to do it. We’re all going to do it. Thank you.

Trisha Finnegan 23:34

Thank you.

Dan Martel 23:36

Trisha, thanks again for being on the podcast today. We’re all excited for your arrival, your vision and your future plans for the Community Foundation here in Oklahoma City. We appreciate you taking some time to visit with us today. We look forward to having you back on the program. Well, that wraps us up today. Glad you were with us. Thanks for getting together with this little one-on-one with the new President and CEO of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Trisha Finnegan.

Join us again. Next month, we’re going to be talking to some professional advisors and the role that they play in the Community Foundation. It’s important to have strong relationships with these professional advisors as they play a big part in helping their clients establish funds with the Foundation. It should be an enlightening discussion, and I’m sure you’ll all want to catch our next podcast. I want to thank Trisha Finnegan, the new President and CEO with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for being with us. We certainly look forward to having her back in the program to discuss future topics. Until then I’m Dan Martel. Thanks for listening to Creating Impact Through Giving and have a great week.

Episode 16 Transcript: Meeting the Needs of Charitable Organizations

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 16: Meeting the Needs of Charitable Organizations

Dan Martel 0:28

Here in central Oklahoma there are literally hundreds of charitable organizations that all focus on helping individuals in a variety of different ways. Hello, I’m Dan Martel and welcome back to the pod. Today we’re going to be talking about the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and how they work to set up endowments with charitable organizations. We’ll find out why it’s important for these organizations to establish an endowment. What the advantages of having an endowment are with the Community Foundation and what an endowment can do for that particular organization. Today, we have Jennifer Meckling on the pod. Jennifer is the Director of the Charitable Organization Endowment program here at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. We also have Bruce McIntyre, who is the Executive Director with the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma. Finally, we have Dana Gibson who is with the El Reno Public School Foundation. With that, let’s just jump right into it. First let’s bring on Jennifer Meckling. Hi Jennifer. Welcome to Creating Impact Through Giving.

Jennifer Meckling 1:23

Thank you so much, Dan. It’s great to be here.

Dan Martel 1:24

Absolutely. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation basically got its start by establishing endowments for organizations in the area. Why do you think Mr. John Kirkpatrick had this vision more than 50 years ago?

Jennifer Meckling 1:36

Well, I think Mr. Kirkpatrick had a heart to help the local community, but being a businessman and a banker, he sought to do that in a much more strategic way. He knew how endowment funds worked, and he knew this new thing called a community foundation could help. He took it upon himself to create sustainable support for a lot of local organizations.

Dan Martel 1:56

You know, if he only knew where things stood today. It’s an amazing vision that he had and it worked.

Jennifer Meckling 2:02

I think it would put a big smile on his face.

Dan Martel 2:04

I think so, too. Tell us what an endowment is and how they work.

Jennifer Meckling 2:09

So, I like to think of an endowment as a forever gift. It’s a gift that we put into an investment fund and we never spend it, but we rely on it to create income that we can then spend. The way our endowments work here is we put $40,000 is the minimum. We put that into an endowment fund. We actually put all the funds together and put them in one big investment account. We try to grow that investment performance over the years so that we can spend some of that part of it so that we can create income for the organization. The part that we don’t spend, we call it the principal and that sits and creates income. Then each year we calculate out what 5% of the market value of that fund is. We average that over 12 quarters to try to even out the ups and downs of the market. Then each organization gets a check for 5% of the value of their fund. They can count on that every single year. It’s pretty steady income. They can count on it being just a little bit more each year. Over the years, that really adds up.

Dan Martel 3:02

If anybody wanted to establish an endowment here, could they do that?

Jennifer Meckling 3:05

No, we don’t want anymore.

Dan Martel 3:07


Jennifer Meckling 3:09

Yeah, that would be a great thing for any organization to think about the future needs for whatever their cause is. I think a lot of us are working on challenges in the community that aren’t going to be solved overnight. We have to think about what’s going to provide sustainable support all those years as we try to attack that problem.

Dan Martel 3:25

Absolutely. Why is it important for a local charitable organization to maybe consider establishing an endowment through OCCF versus somewhere else?

Jennifer Meckling 3:33

Well, one of the great things that we offer, is we consider our endowed organizations, community partners. We’re all in this together. We’re trying to do good in the community, and we try to do it together. Even though we do charge minimal fees for managing those funds, we also try to do our best to help those organizations grow those funds as much as possible. That includes our networking opportunities, our workshops. We also do one-on-one consulting, trying to help organizations strategize on how to bring additional funding into their endowment fund and sometimes even running a full campaign to perhaps leverage a match and get a really big chunk of money into that endowment fund to help it grow.

Dan Martel 4:09

So, let’s say an organization decides to establish an endowment. What do people do to help grow their endowment?

Jennifer Meckling 4:15

One of the great opportunities for endowment with Oklahoma City Community Foundation is our partnership with the Kirkpatrick Family Fund. That’s a fund established by Mr. Kirkpatrick himself. He was very fond of setting up funds for organizations. He was also kind of fond of leveraging matches and he would elbow his friends in the community and say, Hey, I’ll put some money into their fund if you’ll match it. In that way, he set up that precedent for matching funds. To this day, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund will offer a match to eligible organizations in the community. They offer two different ratios of matches. The first is to establish a match and that’s a $15,000 grant for a $25,000 raise. If an organization can come up with that $25,000, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, if approved, will match that with $15,000 to get to the $40,000 minimum for our endowment funds. Subsequent years, organizations have the opportunity to apply for a one to three match. An organization can set its own goal and after approved, they have a full year to hit that goal. Once they do the Kirkpatrick Family Fund will put in $1 for every $3 that was raised.

Dan Martel 5:14

Wow. Now I know that you do and hold a lot of training sessions here at the Foundation on endowments. Tell us about some of those sessions, who’s eligible to attend and what do you all accomplish there?

Jennifer Meckling 5:24

So, our sessions range from Endowment 101, which is our basic, what is endowment and how does it work here, all the way up to some additional sessions called Advanced Planned Giving, where we’ll talk about some of the more complex tax advantageous gifts that a donor might consider and everything in between. Our Endowment 101 is really targeted at people that are either new to their organization or an organization is new to endowment, or perhaps as someone that’s been with the organization for a while and is new to their position and wants to understand endowment a little better. We also invite some people that may be interested in starting an endowment to learn a little bit more about how that works here. Our Advanced Planned Giving we target that really to those organizations that already have an established endowment here. It’s really because that endowment fund is a fantastic development tool. Having that in place is really one of the key pieces to having those deeper conversations with donors about strategic gifts.

Dan Martel 6:13

You know, it’s interesting. We were visiting with Debbie Ingraham, who was the Executive Director and CEO of Skyline Urban Ministry. They’ve had an endowment established here for quite some time. So I said, what do you all do with the disbursement of your money once a year? She said that money allows us to pay a full-time staff person.

Jennifer Meckling 6:31

Yeah. Organizations can set different goals for those endowment funds. It could be funding a full-time position if they want to. It could also be funding scholarships for kids if they have a program that goes on an annual basis. It could also be funding an annual gift. If I’m a donor and I’ve been giving to an organization $500 a year for a very long time, I could actually endow $10,000 with that organization. It would give my $500 back to them every single year forever.

Dan Martel 6:56

Wow, that’s excellent. How do you approach a nonprofit if they don’t have an endowment here?

Jennifer Meckling 7:02

I’d say it’s a long road to establish an endowment. It’s not something that’s going to pay off right away. If an organization has that idea that they’re going to be in the business of supporting their mission for a very long time, I tell them they should probably consider it. They also need to have some rather frank conversations with their key donors and maybe support people in the community that they think will maybe get on board with the endowment fund. It’s kind of a steep climb to raise that $40,000 to be able to invest in endowment. Then that 5%, that first year will only be $2,000. It seems like a lot of work with not much payoff for the first couple of years, but over time that fund will grow. It will continue to give back support. There will be donors who will notice that that’s a grand opportunity for giving in a much more strategic way.

Dan Martel 7:45

Do you have any success stories that you might want to share with us on organizations that might receive a handsome disbursement check every year?

Jennifer Meckling 7:53

Well, I got to present to a local organization recently and when I do that, I usually pull the history of their fund and give them a little snapshot of what’s going on. I was just so delighted with this one. It was one of our earliest funds and it was supported largely by Mr. Kirkpatrick and his wife early on. The fund has been established for 51 years. It truly was one of our first funds here. Its current market value is nearly $2 million. Of that gifts into the fund is about $1.2 million. That difference between that $1.2 million and that $2 million is investment growth over the years. That’s a pretty big chunk that has grown over time. In addition to that over the years, it has also given back $1.3 million in annual distributions. If you think about it, the value of that fund, of that giving, that $1.2 million that was given into the fund is actually given them back more than $1.3 or sorry has given them back $3.2 million over the years.

Dan Martel 8:46

So double.

Jennifer Meckling 8:47

So absolutely double. This past year they received a check for $85,000. They can count on that money every single year. They can count on getting a little bit larger every single year. If they put some work into growing the fund, it will grow even bigger.

Dan Martel 8:59

Well, that’s outstanding. Jennifer, what’s the best way for folks to inquire on how to establish an endowment here.

Jennifer Meckling 9:03

I would tell them to poke around on our website. There’s some great information about the endowment fund and some ideas of what organizations are doing with their endowment funds. You can actually see every single one of our funds listed there. You can see everything from our largest fund, which is about $65 million down to our smallest funds, which of course are at that minimum of $40,000. I would certainly invite them to reach out to me anytime they want to at

Dan Martel 9:27

Thanks for being with us today. We always appreciate it.

Jennifer Meckling 9:28

Thank you so much, Dan.

Dan Martel 9:30

Now we want to bring in Bruce McIntyre. Bruce is the Executive Director with the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma. Welcome to the podcast today, Bruce.

Bruce McIntyre 9:37

Thank you so much.

Dan Martel 9:38

Glad you’re here. So, first of all, Bruce, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your organization?

Bruce McIntyre 9:42

The Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma works to inspire hope and transform life for Parkinson patients and families in Oklahoma. Specifically, we do support, exercise, research, family consultations, LOUD Crowds, all the things that someone needs to do between doctor visits.

Dan Martel 10:01

Okay. You mentioned something called LOUD Crowds. What exactly is that?

Bruce McIntyre 10:04

Yeah, so LOUD Crowd is probably one of the more impactful programs that we have. It’s basically the second part of a two-part process. When a Parkinson’s patient begins to experience a lower voice volume and choking or swallowing issues, which 89% of Parkinson patients experience that. There’s really not a pill you can take for it, but the therapy one-on-one is very effective. Then following the therapy, if a patient doesn’t practice the exercises, they lose everything in about six months. This is where LOUD Crowd comes in. We have partnerships with speech therapists and hospitals for licensed speech therapists to lead these LOUD Crowds around Oklahoma. It just helps them practice and maintain their voice.

Dan Martel 10:52

Bruce, how many people does Parkinson’s affect here in Central Oklahoma?

Bruce McIntyre 10:56

Yeah, so statewide probably 10,000 or more. In the metro area of Oklahoma City, probably 3,500 to 4,000 people.

Dan Martel 11:03

What are some of the services that you all provide folks of who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s?

Bruce McIntyre 11:08

So, some of the things that we do at the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma is we’ve basically quadrupled our programming in the past six or seven years. We have about 30 support groups, which are educationally driven. We have close to 30 Parkinson’s specific exercise groups around the state. Then we also have about now 24 LOUD Crowds. We also provide free family consultations if someone’s diagnosed or they’ve had it 10 years and they’re just not sure what to do next, we will help them figure out what is their next right thing to do.

Dan Martel 11:42

So, before we get into talking about endowments, which is what our program is centered on, I wanted to ask you one more question about Parkinson’s. What’s the first symptom? How does somebody know when they might have something going on?

Bruce McIntyre 11:53

Yeah, so it’s a funny thing. With many diseases, you know what it means. With Parkinson’s everyone says, oh yeah, that’s the one with Michael J. Fox, but what is that? Tremor is the most noticeable symptom, but only about 75% of patients actually have tremor. The others are rigidity and slowness of movement, balance issues. As I mentioned before voice and swallowing issues. These aren’t necessarily noticeable to most people, but if someone notices this in themselves, they’ll want to see a neurologist.

Dan Martel 12:26

Interesting. Okay. So, your organization has an endowment established here at the Community Foundation, correct?

Bruce McIntyre 12:32

Yes, we do.

Dan Martel 12:32

Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about that. When was it established and why did you all decide to secure an endowment?

Bruce McIntyre 12:38

Yeah, our board started talking about this in 2020. We began the endowment in December of 2020, and the purpose for it was really to ensure our mission of what we’re doing for Parkinson’s patients, because while the cure may be somewhere out on the horizon, people need access to programs that help them have better quality of life today. We want to be sure that we’re able to do that.

Dan Martel 13:03

Fantastic. Then the other question I was going to ask you is, having an endowment is one thing, but that’s something that you want to grow to benefit you all down the road. What do you all do to continue to grow that endowment?

Bruce McIntyre 13:17

So, we created a strategy from the beginning that we continue to carry out, which basically first of all, is that we would set aside memorial gifts. Unless otherwise directed and as long as we’re doing well, financially, we would set those aside quarterly. Then once a year apply for the Kirkpatrick Family Fund match and continue to kind of ratchet up the endowment in that way. We would also consider any outlying gifts as potential gifts to go towards the endowment. Then we make specific asks of a part of our clientele and people that we know to contribute.

Dan Martel 13:52

Okay. You know, it’s interesting, Parkinson’s is one of those things that it’s alive and well right here in Oklahoma City. A lot of people may not be aware that there’s something that they’ve got going on or a family member. Your organization obviously does wonderful things here in the community. We thank you and your team and your board for all that you do for folks that do suffer from Parkinson’s. If they want to learn more about you all, where do they go?

Bruce McIntyre 14:20

So, go to You can learn more about the programs that we have. You can get connected with us, and we can help you make your next right step with Parkinson’s.

Dan Martel 14:31

Well, Bruce, thanks for being with us. We certainly wish you all the best with the Parkinson’s Foundation of Oklahoma and all the great work that you do here in our community.

Bruce McIntyre 14:38

Thank you so much.

Dan Martel 14:40

Now I want to bring in Dana Gibson with the El Reno Public School Foundation. Dana, you all were founded back in 1988 to raise and provide support for El Reno Public Schools’ faculty, staff and students.

Dana Gibson 14:51


Dan Martel 14:52

All right. Well, I want to talk about that. First of all, welcome.

Dana Gibson 14:54

Thank you.

Dan Martel 14:55

All right. Tell us a little bit about the El Reno Public School Foundation. What do you all do?

Dana Gibson 14:59

When we started, we did grants to teachers, that was the main objective, to provide enhancements for teachers. They would ask us for magic markers, Crayolas, drawing paper, seeds to plant a garden, books… Then we started to grow and we had more money to give away. We’ve enlarged what our vision is to include some leadership grants. We have some site-based grants. We give every school site a certain amount every year to buy something that can be used by the whole school.

Dan Martel 15:35

How many students, teachers, et cetera, do you all help each year with the work that you all do?

Dana Gibson 15:40

We have an enrollment of over 3,000 students, but our budget is a little over $55,000 per year for the fall grants and then the site-based grants.

Dan Martel 15:51

Okay. I want to talk a little bit about endowments and I want to ask you, when you all decided to establish an endowment with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and why do you think it’s important to have an endowment in place?

Dana Gibson 16:04

We started our endowment process a little unexpectedly. We had a family in 2004-ish, both husband and wife died with no children and no immediate family. They wanted to leave their money in an endowment to be used for educational purposes. They named a couple of attorneys and business people in El Reno to manage those funds. They contacted the El Reno Public School Foundation if we would be interested in managing those funds and then giving scholarships every year. I called our attorney who helped drop the bylaws and said, if somebody gives us $250,000, what are we supposed to do with it so that perpetually it’s there. He said, in the morning, pick up the phone and call Nancy Anthony at Oklahoma City Community Foundation and tell her that Jim Bass told you to call. I had no idea who Nancy was, who the Foundation was, but I called and that’s when we became involved in the endowment process and its importance.

Dan Martel 17:06

Excellent. What do you suppose that some of the benefits are by having an endowment?

Dana Gibson 17:12

The number one benefit for us is the perpetuity of the endowment. In five years, when we have a complete board shift, they can’t decide let’s take all this money and invest it in something else and lose sight of what all the founders in 1988 had in mind for the Foundation.

Dan Martel 17:32

What do you all do to ensure the growth of your endowment?

Dana Gibson 17:35

Well, we’re not afraid to ask for people to donate, and we have quite a following now of people that donate for memorials. We try to put half of that in endowments. We have a general fund endowment. We have various scholarship endowments. We try to make sure there’s an even balance so the endowments are always there to help us with our budget every year.

Dan Martel 17:56

Well, that’s the idea. Is there anything that you all do to raise funds? I mean, other than that.

Dana Gibson 18:02

You know, I had a phone call last Thanksgiving from a friend of mine that called and said, I have some money that I need to give away. I said, oh, you call the right person. He goes, no, I mean the Foundation, but he wanted it to be a matching fund. I thought it was a great idea, but in the back of my mind, I thought, I don’t really have time to do this, but he’s a good friend of mine. We talked about it. He had some ideas, I had some ideas and we started talking to people and before we knew it, the first year’s funds were matched. I’m three-fourths of the way matching this year’s funds. Then next year we’ll have some more funds. So, it just works.

Dan Martel 18:36

Absolutely, it worked. I think that’s excellent. If somebody’s interested, if they’re listening right now and they’re interested in perhaps contributing to your endowment, what do they need to do?

Dana Gibson 18:45

Give me a call. If not call someone at Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Jennifer Meckling is a source that I don’t know what I would do without. Call Joe Carter if you’d have more questions. I think about my first meeting with Joe, there are two things he said, three things actually. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for money. Don’t leave any money laying on the table when you leave that conversation. If they have an IRA or 401K that they’re going to have to take money out of, talk them into giving it to you and they won’t have to pay tax on it. Oh, and talk your donors into not being donors but being investors. I think that’s probably the most important phrase that I continue to use, don’t be just a donor, be an investor in our vision.

Dan Martel 19:29

Absolutely. Well, and if you think about it here at the Community Foundation, all of our “donors” are technically investors into the community. That’s the whole point. The name of this podcast, as you know, is Creating Impact Through Giving. What you all do is create an impact in El Reno and beyond. I hope that the Foundation is certainly helping you all meet those needs. Well, thanks for being with us today, Dana. Thank you for all the work that you do on behalf of the El Reno Public Schools. We do appreciate you being here on the podcast. I hope folks learned a little bit more on how endowments work today. Thanks again.

Dana Gibson 20:01

Thank you.

Dan Martel 20:04

Well that about wraps it up today. I want to thank you all for listening, and I hope we have brought you some good information when it comes to establishing an endowment here at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. If you would like to learn more, please visit our website You’ll be able to find all the information you need about establishing an endowment if you’re interested.

Join us again next month, when we’ll have an interesting discussion on the advantages of creating an advised fund at the Community Foundation. We will talk all about the different types of funds one can establish here at OCCF. Joe Carter, the Vice President of Development will be on hand to talk about the advantages of opening and advised fund through the Foundation. We’ll have a couple of other surprise guests as well. I want to thank Jennifer Meckling with the Community Foundation for being on the show today and a big shout out and thank you to our other guests, Bruce McIntyre, with the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma and Dana Gibson with the El Reno Public School Foundation. Until next time I am Dan Martel, and we hope that you’ll join us again next month on Creating Impact Through Giving. Have a great day.

Episode 17 Transcript: Philanthropy and the Advantages of Advised Funds

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 17: Philanthropy and the Advantages of Advised Funds

Dan Martel 0:30

Hello, I’m Dan Martel and welcome back to Creating Impact Through Giving. Through the years, Oklahoma City has been known to be a very generous city when it comes to charitable giving. Today, we’re going to be talking about philanthropy and what it takes for someone to create an impact or leave a legacy. More importantly, we will discuss why giving through the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has so many advantages.

In this episode, we will talk to Joe Carter. Joe is the Vice President of Development at the Community Foundation, and he’s been helping people throughout the community fulfill their philanthropic wishes for the last 20 years. We also have Jeri Holmes, a lawyer with Nonprofit Solutions who does work for tax-exempt organizations and government entities. Also, on today’s podcast we’re happy to have Kayla Cawood, a transactional attorney with Robben Law here in Oklahoma City, whose practice is primarily focused on estate planning and corporate transactions. First thing, let’s just jump right to it and bring in Joe Carter. Joe, welcome back to the podcast today.

Joe Carter 1:27

Thank you, Dan.

Dan Martel 1:28

Joe, you oversee the Community Foundation’s development division, and you’ve been working with donors and prospective donors to set up advised funds among other fund types and you help guide people with their philanthropic wishes. Tell us what an advised fund is and how does it work?

Joe Carter 1:41

So, we essentially have two types of advised funds here. We have one that would be more in line with a private foundation, whereas it’s a permanent fund in which somebody can create this fund that can then gift out to one charity or number of charities on an annual basis and it lives on in perpetuity. That is known as a legacy fund here. The second Donor Advised Fund that we have, which is a little bit more in line with what a lot of people are familiar with as far as commercial funds, i.e. Fidelity, Vanguard, Schwab is our gift fund. Those are funds that come in and then they have no limitations on when the grants can be made out. Essentially a Donor Advised Fund is really a place where somebody can make a gift today, receive a charitable deduction today, and then some time in the future make grants out of.

Dan Martel 2:27

When you talk to donors, Joe, do they have an idea of what they want to do or does the foundation really guide them and give them the option and say, this might be your best bet?

Joe Carter 2:37

Yeah. I would think that we’re a little bit more involved on the resource side of things, helping them understand what are you trying to accomplish? What impact are you trying to have? Is this an estate planning option? Is this a tax planning option? Is this a family education option? Exactly what are you trying to accomplish with your philanthropy? Then we’ll help you decide, Hey, is a Donor Advised Fund the right thing, is a supporting organization. Is an endowment fund one of the funds that we already have existing, is that the best option for you? Really, it’s an education process when a donor walks in the door.

Dan Martel 3:08

What are some of the other types of funds that the foundation guides its donors to consider?

Joe Carter 3:13

Depending on what a donor’s trying to accomplish, let’s say we were starting with just a simple estate plan and somebody was looking for an opportunity to support an individual charity for a period of time. Then, we could either use the legacy fund or if they were not necessarily zeroed in on a particular charity, but more a cause area, then we could use a field of interest fund. For instance, animal welfare. Somebody was interested in pet adoption. They were interested in spay and neutering. They were interested in no kill shelter. There may not be one charitable organization that meets all of those. However, it’s a cause area, so if they wanted to support that, then we could shotgun grants out to a variety of organizations.

We are the nation’s largest provider of Charitable Organization Endowment Funds. We’ve got over 380 organizations for which have a permanent endowment here but many of our donors like to come in and establish a fund that’s restricted to a specific purpose at that charity. It could be the Boys and Girls Club, for instance that has an endowment fund with us. Then there may be an individual donor that comes in and says, “Hey, really, I like the afterschool tutoring program. I would like to restrict this gift specifically for tutoring.” We could actually set up a gift underneath the auspice of Boys and Girls Club to make that happen. If you’ve got a high net worth family that wants to ensure that they have multiple generational contacts to that fund, then we might use a supporting organization, which really is a kissing cousin of the private foundation. It looks and smells a lot like a private foundation it just doesn’t have the complexities or some of the reporting that’s required out of private foundations. Many times it’s a great opportunity to come in.

Then, probably one of our biggest areas right now, where a lot of donors are coming in is our scholarship funds. There again, a donor can come in and we’ll work with them on the criteria and what does that mean? Is it geographical? Is it merit based? Is it athletics? Is it orchestra? What is it you’re trying to support or what are you passionate about? Then, we have another whole subset of funds for people that may have IRAs or something of that nature, for which a Donor Advised Fund is not an appropriate vehicle. Then we can use what are called Donor Designated Funds, which they can use retirement planned assets and things of that nature to really zero in and direct funding to a particular organization or organizations depending, there again on a short-term basis or long term. It’s just what is right for that particular donor and we’re going to position them to the best fund for them.

Dan Martel 5:48

So, Joe, I know you work a lot with professional advisors, attorneys, folks like that. How do you work with these groups? Where do you find them and how do you guys get in touch?

Joe Carter 5:57

Part of that is just longevity here, right? I mean, I’ve been here almost 20 years. My initial job coming in was outreach amongst professional advisors. That network has built up. We try to do a lot of things as a foundation to provide continuing education for the advisor group. For instance, we host the Oklahoma City Estate Planning Council, here we’ll host the Oklahoma Gift Planners Association. We’ll usually do an annual CLE event for all advisors, bring in specialty speakers that’ll address estate planning, or gift planning, as it may relate to either tax planning or estate planning in their general practices. Then we’ve just recently hired Julie Dais, who it is now, her job to go out and basically door knock, if you will, and really get the word out and continuing the awareness of the Community Foundation amongst the advisor community. We’ve positioned ourself as a really good resource in town, a trusted partner, so that when those attorneys in the past, many of those meetings, I would get called into the attorney’s office. Now many of them just refer their client directly over to us. They’ve got a comfort level now to know that they don’t have to be in every single meeting with us but we’re still happy to be there in a house with them, if needed.

Dan Martel 7:11

Can you talk about some of the types of gifts you all accept? I know it’s just not always a cash deal.

Joe Carter 7:16

Really, especially when it comes to the Community Foundation. I think that’s one of our greatest advantages over many of the charities because there’s only three things that we don’t typically take. We won’t take cemetery plots, timeshares or cars, unless it’s a vintage car. The rest of the time, we’ve really positioned ourselves to be able to accept all types of non-cash gifts. That would include crypto currency, real estate, oil, and gas interest, even believe it or not, we can accept cattle, anything that’s hoofed. Anything that has a deed that goes along with it can essentially be granted over or gifted over. The other thing that people don’t think about as well is maybe art and collectibles.

Dan Martel 7:58

That’s interesting. I’m just curious now, just through the years, anything really unusual that you may have received, that was a little out of the ordinary?

Joe Carter 8:06

One of the most interesting things was a herd of cattle. At the end of the day, what we learned through that process is that depreciation of cattle works a little bit differently than other things. It didn’t work out for the donor by the time we dove into the IRS code and worked with the CPA. It just made more sense for him to sell the cattle and then gift us the proceeds rather than us going down to the stock yards. We’ve taken entire estates where somebody has left absolutely everything to us.

Probably the most common gift for us is working through attorneys on liquidity events, through business transactions. Somebody’s getting ready to sell their business. They want to support charity. They’d also like to utilize a charitable deduction, then they’ll gift a portion if not all of their business to us, which is a great tax planning tool. We’ve gotten all types of different businesses. I mean, from real estate companies that dealt with trailer parks to oil and gas companies, to insurance companies, I mean, you name it, there’s been a variety of different types of businesses that we’ve been able to accept.

Dan Martel 9:10

Interesting. Are you seeing an uptick in this type of trend?

Joe Carter 9:14

Well, I think you’re always going to have the majority of cash gifts are going to be out there because that’s the traditional way of giving. I mean, most people think about supporting charity. In many cases, it’s transactional. They just get their checkbook out and they write a check. The second most popular is appreciated stock. There again, that’s been publicized and marketed time and time again, but where we really see those impactful gifts that are really sustainable and create lots of opportunity in the community, it really does come from real estate, closely held businesses and those non-cash assets. Only about, oh, I would say roughly 5% of the nation’s wealth is held in cash. The other 95% is in non-cash assets. For us to be there and have the ability to accept those kind of gifts are really what separates us from the typical charities in town. That’s how we partner with many of those non-profits to be honest, and bring donors in with us.

Dan Martel 10:05

I want to kind of stay on that for a little bit, Joe. Tell me a little bit about the advantages. Why would somebody want to work with you all here at the Foundation versus another entity out there?

Joe Carter 10:14

Well, that’s a great question. You know, we’ve got about $1.6 billion under management here, which are all charitable dollars, for the most part here in central Oklahoma. The question that I always ask is why are all those dollars coming here? I think that the number one point is that donors have confidence when we say that this is going to be a permanent fund and it’s here in perpetuity and your legacy will live on, they understand that here because so much of what we do is endowment-based. We’re always going to utilize those funds to make sure that generations after generation are supported with that one donor’s gift. Our donor base has been informed and educated I think, to the point where they realize that we are going to keep them as the hero in the story.

Dan Martel 11:03

You know, Joe, one of the things I’ve noticed is you can actually talk to real people here. What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Joe Carter 11:10

Well, certainly calling the Foundation, my direct line is (405) 606-2914. They can certainly call the main line; (405) 235-5603 is the direct line. There again, depending on what somebody’s interested in – whether it’s a scholarship, a donor fund, a Charitable Organization Endowment Fund – our receptionist will get you in line with the best person to talk to.

Dan Martel 11:30

Well, Joe, thanks for being on the podcast today. We always appreciate your expertise. All of you out there, if you’re listening, if you’re thinking about establishing a fund, if you want to know how you can create some kind of an impact within your community, Joe Carter and his team have been working with donors to make sure their wishes are fulfilled today and well into perpetuity. Thanks for being with us today, Joe.

Joe Carter 11:50

Thanks, Dan. I would just say you don’t have to be a multi-millionaire to make a difference in the community. Many of our permanent funds start at $20,000. You can really make a difference over the long haul with a relatively small entryway.

Dan Martel 12:08

Next up on the pod is Jeri Holmes. Jeri is an attorney in Oklahoma City who founded Nonprofit Solutions back in 2004. She’s been giving and providing legal advice to tax-exempt entities ever since then. Jeri, welcome to Creating Impact Through Giving.

Jeri Holmes 12:23

Thank you.

Dan Martel 12:24

So, let’s just jump right into some questions. Tell us about the work you do and why did you decide that this area was something that you were so passionate about?

Jeri Holmes 12:31

Well, I grew up volunteering and raising money. I had a severely disabled sister, and so my mother dragged us all over the state raising money for the Opportunity Center in Ponca City, Oklahoma. After I got my law degree, I was doing mergers and acquisitions work scrubbing companies and sitting on boards of nonprofits, because that’s how I grew up. I wondered, Hmm. I wonder if we could pierce the corporate veil of a nonprofit organization. I looked into how a lot of them were managed, and I realized that we could. I was very interested in shoring up governance and protecting those board members. Then in 2004 I started Nonprofit Solutions and I’ve been at it ever since. We’ve worked with more than 800 nonprofits now.

Dan Martel 13:14

Outstanding. What’s different about working with a tax-exempt organization versus one that’s not?

Jeri Holmes 13:20

Well, first of all, the people in the for-profit industry, and my law firm is in the for-profit industry, we don’t have to follow all of the regulations that tax-exempt organizations follow because we pay our taxes. If you don’t want to pay income tax, there’s additional rules that you have to follow. That’s obviously the biggest issue. One of the issues that I run into with other for-profit attorneys is they will tell an organization to never put anything in the minutes. Don’t ever put anything in the minutes, you can be held accountable for that. But with nonprofits, we have these wonderful state statutes that say, you literally have to be doing something bad or turning a blind eye before you get in trouble. And so, we went in those minutes, just how is the board fulfilling those fiduciary duties? That’s probably two of the biggest differences.

Dan Martel 14:09

All right. Well, good to know. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been helping charitable organizations for more than 50 years here in the community. Why would you send one of your clients to the OCCF?

Jeri Holmes 14:20

Because I know they’re going to get taken care of here. I have a little bit of a horror story where I was president of a board where a donor gave us a house, and then the family turned around and sued the organization. I ended up being named and ended up having to be the representative on the estate for a short period of time. Had we had a fund at Oklahoma City Community Foundation, which you can be assured that we do now, that would not have happened because the Oklahoma City Community Foundation would’ve helped us manage that process.

Dan Martel 14:54

Excellent. Well, I know Joe and his team do a great job, and I know they love working with organizations and clients that you send over, which is fantastic. What’s the biggest advantage of having your clients work with the Community Foundation perhaps versus another organization?

Jeri Holmes 15:09

Well, you’re the safety net, right? You’re the backstop, is how I look at it. When I’m talking to people about starting a private foundation or starting a public charity, we talk about how complicated it really is. If I can talk a family into not doing a private foundation, but doing a Donor Advised Fund that they want to turn over to their children. Now you’ve got a backstop because the Community Foundation is going to step in and say, no, we can’t send 25 people in your family to Tahiti for a board meeting, right? No, we can’t do things that are going to get you in trouble. You are that protection that is ongoing for my clients, that they may not necessarily call me and ask the questions. If their funds are with the Community Foundation, then the Community Foundation provides that additional layer of support and information for them.

Dan Martel 16:02

Absolutely. Jeri, one of the things I read in your bio is that you teach a class called the Law and Nonprofit Organizations, correct, over at OCU. Is that OCU, correct?

Jeri Holmes 16:12


Dan Martel 16:13

Okay. Are you seeing more and more folks kind of coming up in this type of field, that’s doing law the way you’re doing it? Are you seeing more and more people interested in this?

Jeri Holmes 16:23

I see more and more people interested in it, but I think they still do it a little bit differently than I do. I’m a lot more hands on. It’s not like, “Hey, I want to start a nonprofit” and I say, “I’ll help you fill out the form.” I’m going to train the boards. I’m going to train the staff. I’m going to let them know where the pitfalls are. One of the people I talked to today, she had an attorney teller. It was perfectly fine in the state of Oklahoma to only have one board member, and she could be on the board and pay herself out of a public charity. That came from an attorney. It’s that holistic approach that I take that a lot of organizations or a lot of law firms do not. There’s also a lot of online help. I’ve seen people try to set up public charities and private foundations through these online filings, and I hate to be crude about it, but I make a lot of money off those right now because there’s lot cleanup work that has to be done.

Dan Martel

Sure. Well, I can rest assured that I will never do any of my work online. That’s a guarantee. Jeri one of the things that’s interesting is this new thing that’s been introduced called the ACE Act. Can you talk a little bit about that and tell us what that means.

Jeri Holmes 17:43

Yeah, that is legislation that was proposed in 2021. A group of people started getting together in 2020 and saying, “Hey, there’s a lot of wealth that is being housed that is not being spent.” They’re trying to figure out how to get that wealth out of Community Foundations and back into communities. What they don’t understand is Community Foundations are supposed to acquire as much wealth as possible because that’s a safety net for their communities. So, I’m against the legislation, but the things that are going to really impact our private foundations are, they’re not going to be able to do their 5% payouts to a DAF if indeed this legislation is passed. They’re also not going to be able to if a family member is paid or a staff related to them is paid they’re not going to be able to count that as a portion of their expenses that will meet their 5% distribution requirements. The IRS and Congress is looking at really tightening up on these private foundations. There are tons of smaller private foundations out there that may not be able to withstand the scrutiny. I worry for those because the penalties associated, if you don’t do this right, are astronomical.

Dan Martel 19:09

Well, if you are a small foundation, what’s the best thing for them to do.

Jeri Holmes 19:11

I recommend that they get with their family and they talk about, is this really something that generations are going to want to do? A lot of times at private foundations, the first generation is happy. The second generation is not quite as happy by the time they get to the third generation the great grandkids, the grandkids don’t want to have anything to do with it. They really need to get with their families and discuss how they want to manage their philanthropic intent. They may want to consider dissolving those private foundations, starting Donor Advised Funds. If they’ve got five grandchildren, they can split that up into five different Donor Advised Funds. Each grandchild can then be an advisor on a Donor Advised Fund. As we talked about before, the reason why I like that strategy is because then the Oklahoma City Community Foundation can be their backstop and their safety net to make sure they don’t get into trouble.

Dan Martel 20:05

Absolutely. do we know anything about a timeline for this particular Senate bill?

Jeri Holmes 20:12

We do not. We do know that they tried to get it passed in 2021, and there was no interest. Too many organizations came out and said, there are just too many unintended consequences, but the 5% payout requirement and a couple of the others are still circulating. I believe at some point that this legislation will get passed because the IRS is really pushing it.

Dan Martel 20:39

That’s unfortunate. I’m with you. I hope that this is something that people take a stand on and say, this is not in the best interest for everybody, especially if you’re a small foundation. You’ve been working and helping clients for several years now who are in the nonprofit space. What’s the best way for folks to find you?

Jeri Holmes 20:56

Well, I’m pretty easy to find online. I have a lot of people find me through LinkedIn. I have a website, a lot of people find me through there, but probably 95% of the people who find me, find me through referral sources. Someone that I’ve already worked with. That’s where the majority of my clients come from.

Dan Martel 21:19

All right. Jeri Holmes is with Nonprofit Solutions. Is that correct? Nonprofit Solutions. You can look that up online if you’re interested in talking to Jeri or one of her staff members. Jeri, again, thanks for being with us today. The work you do is important. I know that Oklahoma City Community Foundation enjoys the unique relationship you have with them. The fact that they’re able to work with clients that you send over to them has got to be a win-win for all parties involved. Thanks for being with us today. We appreciate you being on the podcast.

Jeri Holmes 21:46
Thank you for having me.

Dan Martel 24:50

Finally, I want to bring in Kayla Cawood, who is a transactional attorney with Robben Law in Oklahoma City, whose practice is primarily focused on estate planning and corporate transactions. Welcome to the show.

Kayla Cawood 22:00

Thank you, Dan.

Dan Martel 22:01

So Kayla, I want to start by asking you a little bit about the work you do at Robben Law. Tell me about that.

Kayla Cawood 22:06

Sure. I really like what I do with Robben Law. I work with clients and whether it’s on the estate planning side or the transactional side, I work with clients planning for their future and helping them manage their assets. I do a lot of forming new businesses and hearing about people’s business ideas and what kind of ventures they’re going to be going through and helping them with transitions as they grow or decide to retire with their businesses and writing contracts and that sort of thing on the business side, which is really fun and interesting. You get to learn about everything from mining, to artist work. That part is really cool.

Dan Martel 22:52

Oh, I can imagine. We just went through the great resignation here, over the last couple years, with people coming up with very philanthropic and entrepreneurial ideas on starting companies. That’s really interesting.

Kayla Cawood 23:04

Yes. I think Oklahomans for sure still have some of that cowboy entrepreneurial spirit and there’s lots of great ideas floating around in there.

Dan Martel 23:11

Oh, absolutely. Kayla, you recently earned your CAP designation, which stands for Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy, correct?

Kayla Cawood 23:18

Yes, that’s correct.

Dan Martel 23:19

Okay. Tell us a little bit about that. What does that allow you to do?

Kayla Cawood 23:22

The CAP class is designed for professionals of all different types, and it gives you a background in charitable giving that comes from all sorts of different perspectives. It was really interesting for me as an attorney who oftentimes I’m just thinking about the technical aspect of giving, but it gave me a good background on where people are coming from, whether they be fundraisers or the people who were actually giving the funds to support the community. It runs the gambit of everything from psychological factors to technical aspects. It was just a really interesting program.

Dan Martel 24:03

Sure. You had mentioned working with all different types of people. What are some of the clients you’re seeing today and what kind of legacy are they trying to leave in the community? What are you hearing?

Kayla Cawood 24:14

I would say a large section of my clients are thinking about a family legacy of giving. It’s fairly common once I explain to them about the different tools that we can offer in partnership with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. They’re often really excited that they can set apart a portion of their estate either when they pass or now and allow their children to become successor advisors on those funds and be able to continue to make annual gifts and learn about being philanthropic through that means. I also have a good amount of clients who are using their charitable intent in conjunction with some big event in their life, such as the sale of a business or retirement of a farmer. Those big liquidity events are great times whenever we can get some tax savings and make a big impact in the community with a cause that they support by using one of the tools that we have available to us.

Dan Martel 25:18

Fantastic. I was talking to Joe Carter earlier in the program, and we were talking about the idea here is that you don’t have to be incredibly wealthy to start something philanthropic. One of the things I’d like to ask is when do people start thinking about their estates and what might happen to them when they’re gone?

Kayla Cawood 25:39

It seems like it happens at a different time for everybody. We have some people who are looking at their minor children and wondering what would happen to them if they were no longer able to care for them. That’s a trigger event. Sometimes people are getting older and they’re retiring and kind of looking back on their life and wondering, what is my legacy going to be?

Dan Martel 25:59

I know that you work a lot with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation with Joe and his group here, what is it that they can do to help clients that you refer to them?

Kayla Cawood 26:08

The possibilities of what they can do are astoundingly diverse. As the attorney, oftentimes it’s my job just to connect the client with what they want to accomplish with the people who can best help them accomplish that in an efficient manner. Oftentimes the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has a great availability of things that they can do for them. Joe and his team really do a good job of getting to know the clients and talking with them and figuring out how they can best help them. It makes everything very easy on the client side when it comes to documents and formations and actually getting things funded. Then it also lets me as the attorney kind of step back and let them kind of go through and decide how they want their charitable legacy to be carried forward.

Dan Martel 27:05

That’s outstanding. What do you think the advantages of working with the Community Foundation would be over perhaps another organization?

Kayla Cawood 27:13

I really enjoy working with OCCF because they are so local and they work with so many local charities. In speaking with them, it seems like the team here really has their thumb on the pulse of central Oklahoma and both what the needs are and what groups are fulfilling those needs as well as helping clients fill holes that maybe aren’t being covered in the needs of the local community.

Dan Martel 27:39

I think that’s great. When it comes to estate planning, what are some of the parameters that somebody needs to be thinking about when they kind of reach out to you at your firm? When do they need to like start talking about this?

Kayla Cawood 27:52

Usually I say, it’s good to at least have an initial conversation if you want to make any sort of plan for the future. There’s not really an asset threshold where this becomes important. It’s more about the type of assets that you own and what you want to happen with them after you die. Most people don’t know that in Oklahoma, if a married couple who has children, if one of them were to pass away and there was absolutely no plan in place that that asset was owned only by the one person who died, without any type of planning in place the Oklahoma statute says that that asset passes half to the spouse, half to the children to be split amongst the children. Most people are surprised by that. Oftentimes what we’re doing is implementing the simplest plan possible to change that default and avoid the probate process at the end.

Dan Martel 28:48

Excellent. Well, I mean, Robben, R-O-B-B-E-N Law is the law firm that Kayla Cawood is associated with. If you all out there are listening and you need some advice, this would be a good time to start thinking about it. Kayla, I want to thank you for being with us today. Thanks for all the work you do in estate planning for folks. So many people don’t really know where to start and coming to somebody like you can be life changing in so many ways. Thanks again for being here. We appreciate you.

Kayla Cawood 29:16

I enjoyed it. Thank you.

Dan Martel 29:19

Well, it looks like we’ve got another episode in the books. I want to thank you all for listening today. If you’re seeking ideas on creating your own legacy through philanthropic giving, or you need a little help with your estate planning, or if you’re a tax-exempt organization looking for a way to create your own impact, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is here and able to help guide you throughout your decision-making process.

Join us again next month, we’ll be talking about the importance and impact of beautification. We’ll show you how a single gift can make a difference in perpetuity. I want to thank Joe Carter, the Vice President of Development with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Jeri Holmes, with Nonprofit Solutions and Kayla Cawood with Robben Law. Until next time I’m Dan Martel. We hope you join us again next month on Creating Impact Through Giving. Have a great day.

Episode 15 Transcript: iFunds: What Are They and How Are They Changing the Community?

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 15: iFunds: What Are They and How Are They Changing the Community?

Dan Martel 0:31

The Oklahoma City Community Foundation was looking for a way that the wishes of their donors could be met when they did not have a specific organization or charity in mind to support. The Foundation came up with an initiative called iFunds. Hello, I’m Dan Martel. Welcome back to the pod. Today we’re going to be talking about iFunds. What are iFunds? Well, there are three categories. The Service for Elderly iFund supports grants to help our older citizens stay safe and well in their homes. The Opportunities for Children iFund supports grants that provides children access to services and opportunities. The Access to Health are iFund supports grants to provide basic and preventative healthcare, including mental and dental care to individuals in need. An iFund provides an easy way for anybody to make a gift of $25 or more. When combined with gifts from others, it can have a real impact on the lives of so many.

Today we have Kelley Barnes who is the Vice President of Community Engagement with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. John Wilguess, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Dental Foundation, who is a recent recipient of an iFund grant and Clarissa Watkins, the Director of Outreach and Development for Hilltop Clinic, also located here in Oklahoma City and also so a recent recipient. We’ll discuss how these grants have impacted both of these organizations and how organizations throughout the metro can apply to these grants. Let’s get right to it. First of all, I want to welcome Kelley Barnes back to the program. Kelley, welcome back. Good to have you again.

Kelley Barnes 1:57

Thank you for having me Dan.

Dan Martel 1:58

So, Kelley, if we look at Oklahoma City, we find that so many of our own citizens are in need of basic health care, hot meals, things like that. A lot of us take things like that for granted. I’m glad we’re here talking about iFunds today. The first question I have is very simple. What is an iFund and what are they intended to do?

Kelley Barnes 2:15

Sure. In 2010, the Trustees adopted a grant making program around some restricted funds that did not have the traditional community program element of activities like we have with the Margaret Annis Boys Trust, right? There’s a certain program element to those things. This was mostly around some funding of some grant activities where we had pooled some money, either from donors that had made some special instructions in their fund agreements or from a Charitable Organization Endowment Fund that maybe the focus was on children and it went out of business. We pooled some of those funds together and the trustees voted to do three different granting activities, Opportunities for Children, Access to Health Care and Elderly Services. It really was an efficient way for us to deploy some money in the community around those three areas.

Dan Martel 3:13

This is really interesting. How do your donors usually help fund this type of initiative?

Kelley Barnes 3:18

When a donor comes to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, they generally not always, but they generally have an idea of maybe things that they want to fund. They do those things in their fund agreement, and they make those grants year after year and eventually the donor passes away or they don’t have successor advisors for the funds and maybe the organizations that they were funding have gone away. The Community Foundation has been around a long time. We looked at some of those restricted funds and pooled them together in the areas that made sense. The areas that bubbled up were children. Florida Knight was the donor for Opportunities for Children. It was really around enrichment opportunities for children with disabilities, foster care and really programs for children who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to participate. Florida Knight was really specific about that. We take a great deal of pride at the Community Foundation in the way that we steward our donor’s intentions in perpetuity when we absolutely can. This is just one way that we continue to do that after the donor is gone after their decision making has passed.

Dan Martel 4:38

Which is interesting because it sounds like a donor can get very, very specific as to where they want to leave their impact. In this case you had mentioned earlier that there are three basic categories. Are there specific times of the year that you grant or allow people to apply for these types of grants or can they go in at it all at the same time?

Kelley Barnes 4:58

So certainly, there are definite grant cycles they are annual. Access to Health Care just passed. Opportunities for Children will go to the OCCF trustees at their May meeting. We kind of stagger them throughout the year and sometimes it changes, but it’s always on our website what the opportunities and the deadlines and the dates are for the entire process of the grant, starting with the information meeting and all of that kind of good stuff.

Dan Martel 5:28

So, Kelley if somebody’s interested in one of these particular areas under iFunds, they can go to the and find out everything they need to know about Access to Health Care, Opportunities for Children and Services for the Elderly.

Kelley Barnes 5:42

Sure. Our grant guidelines are always posted. They can look at the awards that were made the prior year and a little description about those awards.

Dan Martel 5:51

Oh, that’s great so they have a better understanding.

Kelley Barnes 5:52

And the amount so they can kind of follow along with us what we’re doing and where we’re making some investments.

Dan Martel 5:58

That’s great. Kelley, one of the things I’m interested in knowing is, when we talk about these three basic categories, you know, Opportunities for Children, what would a charitable organization be out there that might fall into that category? Then what might fall into something under health care, then something for the elderly?

Kelley Barnes 6:18

Certainly. Opportunities for Children, part of the guidelines that we try to adhere to is funding for preschool readiness. A good example would be Oklahoma Children’s Theater.

Dan Martel 6:33

Oh, Lyn Adams. We’ve had her on the program before.

Kelley Barnes 6:35

She has been a partner of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for years. She has been a great mentor to other organizations in the community that are fostering literacy programs or theater programs for children. That’s really what she does, is bring literacy programs to preschool aged children. They do it through fun and engaging things such as children’s theater and opportunities for them to be on stage and to read a book and to talk about what they’ve learned. Lyn Adams is a great example of an Opportunities for Children partner over the years. She’s just done an outstanding job in many of our granting areas, but Opportunities for Children is certainly one of them.

Dan Martel 7:27

Well, that’s just one, absolutely. In terms of Services for the Elderly?

Kelley Barnes 7:34

So that iFund is really geared around helping seniors stay in their homes. A good example of that would be Rebuilding Together. They go into a senior’s home and perhaps puts bathroom bars in the shower facility or perhaps puts a ramp up to the front door in case they’re bound by wheelchair or have difficulty walking by themselves. Whatever we can do to partner with organizations that are helping seniors stay in their homes is the objective of that grant program.

Dan Martel 8:12

Sure. I wanted to ask you one more question. If there’s an organization that is not chosen for one of the, iFunds, are they allowed to re-apply?

Kelley Barnes 8:20

Absolutely. It is a competitive process, and we get a lot of things, a lot of wonderful applications that we just can’t fund. I would encourage everyone to read the grant guidelines and please attend the information meeting where we kind of kick-off the grant cycle. It’s really important. It’s a great time to ask questions to see if your program is really a good fit with the guidelines and with the donor intent.

Dan Martel 8:50

Well, if there’s a particular organization that was a recipient of one of the iFunds are they allowed to apply for the same type of grant for their organization like the following year?

Kelley Barnes 9:03

They are. We tend to not want to give multiple year grants or fund the same project or organization year after year because sustainability is an important component of what we look at.

Dan Martel 9:18

Absolutely. Is there a committee that overlooks this and decides? How does that process work?

Kelley Barnes 9:22

Absolutely. We have committees for all of our grant programs that consist of some OCCF Trustees, some community members, some are experts in the area of the grant content. We rely on them to help us cull through the grants, and they take that really seriously. Then it goes to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation Trustees for final approval.

Dan Martel 9:49

That’s great. This past year, I saw where the Foundation gave out more than $729,000 to this initiative. That’s a lot of money in the community.

Kelley Barnes 9:58

It is. We’re getting back in the swing of things. We saw a pause in a lot of our program areas due to COVID. We didn’t do some grants for a while. We had not very many applications in some of our areas, and it’s great to see programs getting back in action, responding to community need. It’s really enriching to hear about people being in person again. I think we have something like 31 applications for the Opportunities for Children this grant cycle, which is probably an all-time high number of applications for that particular area.

Dan Martel 10:36

That’s great. I think that is outstanding. Hopefully, a lot of these organizations are going to receive future grants from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. If you’re a donor and you want to create an impact and have a love for children or elderly people or people that are in need of health care that you know of or if you’re an organization that is seeking to get help in one of those areas, Kelley, thank you again for being on Creating Impact Through Giving and for the valuable information on iFunds. You know, people can truly make a difference in our community. One might just consider a charitable gift to one of the Foundations iFunds. Thanks again.

Kelley Barnes 11:15

Thank you.

Dan Martel 11:20

Now we want to bring in John Wilguess. John is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Dental Foundation and has recently been a recipient of one of the latest rounds of iFund grants that have been distributed. John, welcome.

John Wilguess 11:30

Thanks very much. Glad to be here.

Dan Martel 11:32

Glad you are here. John, first of all before we get into the iFund Access to Health Care Grant, I want to ask a little bit about the Oklahoma Dental Foundation. Tell us a little bit about what you all do.

John Wilguess 11:40

Sure. Well, our mission is pretty simple. We are working to build partnerships across the state to be able to improve oral health for all Oklahomans. We really think that the partnership piece is the most important part of what we do. In fact, we’ve almost redefined our mission and have come to understand that we actually are most successful in providing dental care and fulfilling our mission by helping other organizations fulfill theirs. By doing that, what we do is work with prison diversion programs like Remerge here in Oklahoma City. We actually take our mobile dental program to their program so that the ladies who are a part of that don’t have to go anywhere. They don’t have to worry about anything. They show up to where they’re supposed to be. We provide dental care for them for the time that they are there. We help fulfill the mission of getting those ladies taken care of in an appropriate way. Then we are successful in helping serve the population as well.

Dan Martel 12:30

Man, that is outstanding. You all received an iFund Access to Health Care grant recently, tell us about that.

John Wilguess 12:37

This is one that we are really, really excited about because it is about helping veterans. Last year we also received a grant for this purpose. We were able to expend all of the funds in just about three months. What happens as far as veterans go, they receive zero dental benefits unless they have been 100% disabled during their time of service. That means if it’s 99%, they still get zero dental benefits. The VA is not able to help them. There really are no other dental resources. We see so many folks across the state who have come to be a part of a variety of programs. The Dale Graham Center down in Norman, or with D-DENT which is a great program here in Oklahoma City that helps identify veterans and adults with disabilities and tests them on their ability to pay. So long as they really hit that category of being unable to access any dental care any other way, they’re on their list.

We go to the office of D-DENT, we park our mobile unit there for a week at a time. We take in all of the veterans that we possibly can, provide them as much service as we can. Generally, what we’re seeing is that we have to take care of getting almost all of their teeth extracted. The vast majority of them really need to have dentures. D-DENT then has another extended program, which is fantastic that helps acquire dentures for those folks. If we can get them to a place where all of their teeth have been extracted and they’re ready for that.

Dan Martel 14:05

I’m assuming then that you work with local dentists that volunteer their time, or how does that work?

John Wilguess 14:10

Yes and no. That’s a really great question. The uniqueness of our program is that we also work very closely with the OU College of Dentistry. We have dental students for two weeks at a time during their externship. It’s the fourth-year dental students. They’re about to graduate. We put them out across the state of Oklahoma in our mobile clinics, which gives them an opportunity to see people who are not likely to ever cross the doors of a regular dental practice. Then they get a sense of what it is to help people when they start practicing, they understand that people get into situations that largely are not of their own making. It changes the way they think about how they’re going to practice. Our primary workforce, and it’s a workforce development process for us, are the fourth-year dental students under the observation of a dental preceptor. They work together to be able to help all of those patients that we see generally 10 to 12, maybe 15 a day, just depending on how fast they can go through the patients and what those patients need.

Dan Martel 15:07

It sounds like they’re getting quite the education and the experience by doing that too. That’s excellent.

John Wilguess 15:11

It is. When they see a patient and have a chance to talk to that person about why they’re there, why it was so hard for them to get dental care, it changes what they think about their own practice when the time comes.

Dan Martel 15:24

That is outstanding. That’s interesting. I had no idea. That’s fantastic. How important is it then for an organization like Oklahoma Dental Foundation, your organization to receive grants like an iFund grant?

John Wilguess 15:36

For us, it’s absolutely vital. Number one because we think partnerships are the most important thing for what we do. Yeah, we’re providing dental care and that is really life changing for a lot of people, but we couldn’t possibly do this by ourselves. It requires that there have been folks who are generous and understand the strategy of trying to overall improve the health of our community. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and the idea of the iFund grants is that they are investing in us. You are literally providing us these resources almost to get in on the ground floor to prove that we can do the work that we have said in our grant proposal. Then to be able to prove that out over time, which then builds a great deal of confidence. Not only for the folks who are reviewing our applications, but most importantly, if I can go to another potential funder and say, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has invested in us, they’ve trusted us, they see what we can do, that gives them a great deal of confidence to move forward with us as well. It’s really an incredible part of just the overall building of an arc of support for us as we look for ways to help certain populations in our community.

Dan Martel 16:42

So, you guys are making a difference in the communities that you serve then.

John Wilguess 16:47

We are. We do so by going into places generally where there are no good resources. When talk about the veterans, one of the things that’s…and we do it right here in Oklahoma City, and you look around and you say, oh, there are lots of dentists in Oklahoma City and they should be fine. That’s absolutely true, except that so many of them have really limited abilities to get to places, especially as they get older. Dan in 2021, and so far in 2022, the thing that we saw that just astounds us is that the veterans that we saw, we are having to dismiss them from our program for dental care at a rate that exceeds anything that I have seen in the 11 years that I’ve been at the Oklahoma Dental Foundation.

We’re dismissing them because their other underlying health problems are so bad that we can’t even fill the cavities in their teeth or even begin to do any kind of cleaning. We see folks with blood pressure that is well above stroke level. What we have to do is work with our partner then to get them over to the hospital and get them checked immediately and try and take care of that. We ran into a female veteran and she had a sore in the back of her mouth and it turned out to be oral cancer.

Dan Martel 18:10

But you’re saving lives at the same time. I mean, you’re getting people early treatment.

John Wilguess 18:13

It’s incredible. Well, the dental program ends up being not just about dental care, it becomes the first touch that a lot of people have with basic health care coming out of the pandemic time. It really puts not only the dental students in a unique position, but it puts us in a weird place too because then we have to have an obligation to go back and to help pick up those folks that we had to say, we can’t help you right now. We help get them better. We come back, we finish out the work and conclude all of the treatments that we can with them. It’s incredibly helpful. It’s heartwarming to us to know that we’re connecting them again to other resources and finding other places for them to go.

Dan Martel 18:53

Absolutely. Well, you know, the, the name of this podcast is Creating Impact Through Giving. I know the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been helping create impact to organizations like Oklahoma Dental Foundation and so many others for since 1969. That’s been a long time, more than 50 years. John, thank you for being with us today. John Wilguess, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Dental Foundation. John, we certainly enjoyed having you on the podcast.

John Wilguess 19:22

Appreciate it, Dan. My pleasure. Thank you.

Dan Martel 19:26

Now I want to bring in Clarissa Watkins, who is the Director of Outreach and Development for the Hilltop Clinic. Clarissa. Welcome on the podcast. Appreciate it.

Clarissa Watkins 19:34

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Dan Martel 19:36

We are glad you were here. Tell us a little bit about the Hilltop Clinic. What kind of services do you all provide?

Clarissa Watkins 19:41

Yeah, so we are a nonprofit pediatric clinic in Southwest Oklahoma City, and we see kids who are uninsured or who have SoonerCare. We want to provide a high-quality medical home for kids who might have a difficult time finding that elsewhere.

Dan Martel 19:54

Okay. We’re here talking about iFunds today and I wanted to ask how you heard about the Oklahoma City Community Foundation’s iFund grants.

Clarissa Watkins 20:04

In my position of doing outreach and development, I’m always looking for what funding opportunities there are out there. We do have sort of a relationship with Oklahoma City Community Foundation. They actually came and toured our clinic a few months ago and told us that this would be opening soon that we should apply. As soon as it opened, I was like, oh, got to get on that.

Dan Martel 20:28

How long has Hilltop Clinic been around?

Clarissa Watkins 20:30

So, we are part of Christ Community Health Coalition, and it was incorporated in December of 2014. For about five years we operated a once a week free clinic for kids, once a month for adults. Then in November of 2020, we opened the pediatric clinic full-time; Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30. That is what Hilltop Clinic is. Hilltop Clinic the way it is, has been open just a little over a year.

Dan Martel 20:59

All right, fairly new recipient then to one of the iFunds at the Community Foundation. Let me ask this question, in order for a patient to receive services from Hilltop, do they have to prove any kind of financial need? How does all that work?

Clarissa Watkins 21:15

Any child that would like to receive services in our clinic, we will first ask if they’ve applied for SoonerCare. Now with Medicaid expansion, more people qualify than they think, and so we will also ask when was the last time that they applied because maybe they applied two years ago and were denied, but now they qualify. Then sometimes people will say they have applied or they already know they won’t qualify because the child was not born in the United States and therefore does not qualify for SoonerCare. Then they are considered an uninsured patient.

Dan Martel 21:49

Looking at your website, one of the things I noticed that I’m sort of intrigued by, it says that you also provide spiritual support. Right? Tell me a little about how that works.

Clarissa Watkins 22:00

Yeah. We are a faith-based organization. We are Christian. It doesn’t mean that all of our patients…we don’t require anybody to be believers. We will see everybody, but we do take opportunities to pray with families. We really believe in whole person care. This child, isn’t getting a lot of sleep and it can be a lot of different reasons. Our doctor takes time to really talk with the family about what’s going on in the home and all of these other factors that are going into a child’s care.

Dan Martel 22:31

Wow. That’s excellent. I think that’s an incredible service that you all provide. One of the things I’m curious about, you guys have been around for a little over a year you mentioned earlier, how do people find out about you? How do they know you exist?

Clarissa Watkins 22:45

Yeah. A lot of it is word of mouth. Somebody comes in, has a great experience and they say, oh, I’m going to tell my sister so she can bring all her kids and all my friends and everybody that lives on my street. That’s how a lot of people come in. Then we also just have like normal advertising, like our Google Ads and our social media. Then we go to a lot of events where we know that children will be and pass out flyers and things like that.

Dan Martel 23:09

All right. Hilltop clinic was a recipient of one of the Access to Health Care iFunds. Tell me a little bit about the grant.

Clarissa Watkins 23:16

Yes, we are so excited about this. It’s really going to help us bring in more uninsured patients to our clinic. It’ll help pay for COVID tests, strep tests as well as other materials and things that are needed for seeing patients.

Dan Martel 23:35

All right. Clarissa Watkins, thanks for being here today. I hope that you guys can continue to do the great things in the community that you’re doing. We look forward to hearing a lot of good things to come from the Hilltop Clinic. Thanks again for being with us.

Clarissa Watkins 23:47

Yes. Thank you so much for having me. This was great.

Dan Martel 23:51

That about wraps it up for today. I want to thank all of you for listening, and I hope we’ve brought you some good information when it comes to applying for iFunds Grants through the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Join us next month when we’ll be talking about meeting the needs of charitable organizations throughout Oklahoma City. We’ll be talking about how organizations can set up an endowment through the Community Foundation and how that endowment grows over the years and helps those organizations reach their financial goals. We will be speaking with Jennifer Meckling, who heads up the Foundation’s Charitable Organization Endowment program. We’ll have two special guests who head up some of the city’s well-known nonprofit organizations.

I want to thank Kelley Barnes, John Wilguess and Clarissa Watkins for being our guests today. We look forward to having you back with us next month until then I’m Dan Martel, and we’ll see you again on Creating Impact Through Giving.

Episode 14 Transcript: Keep Moving Across Central Oklahoma's Parks & Trails

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 14: Keep Moving Across Oklahoma’s Parks & Trails

Dan Martel 0:32

A lot of folks right here in central Oklahoma are unaware of how many public parks and trails we have. Fifty-six percent of the citizens right here in Oklahoma City live it within half a mile of a park or a trail. That equates to one park for every 3,995 residents.

Hello, I’m Dan Martel and welcome back to Creating Impact Through Giving, a monthly podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Well, it’s that time of year again when spring is in the air and people are antsy to get back outdoors and enjoy a little exercise. And, a good way for folks to be able to do this is by taking advantage of all the parks and trails we have right in the metro. Just to let you all know, if you’re listening today, we have 170 parks in more than 80 miles of trails. I’m sure there’s a lot of folks that probably didn’t know that we had that here in our city.

Today we’re going to be talking to Marsha Funk, who is the Director of the Greater Oklahoma City Parks and Trails Foundation. We’re also going to be speaking to Lanc Gross, who is the foundation’s Parks and Wellness Programs Manager. You may have seen her on television, but we also have Leah Philpott with us today. Leah, as is the spokesperson for the wellness initiative called KeepMovingOKC. In addition, we’ll have Brian Dougherty on the program. Brian is the director of Parks and Public Space Initiative at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and we’ll talk about how the Rebloom Oklahoma initiative is going as it enters its second year.

So let’s get right to it. First of all, I want to welcome Marsha Funk to the pod today, and I want to preface that by letting our listeners know that Marsha happens to be in Costa Rica right now. I think we’re all a little bit jealous but welcome again to Creating Impact Through Giving, Marsha.

Marsha Funk 2:14

Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, it’s pura vida as we say in Costa Rica.

Dan Martel 2:17

All right. Marsha it’s that time of year when folks are heading back outside after being indoors throughout the winter months, and folks start to think about getting a little more exercise and it leads me to a few questions I want to have a neat little discussion about. How does Oklahoma City rank in terms of meeting our residents needs when it comes to our parks and trails?

Marsha Funk 2:38

Well, that’s a really good question. Thanks for asking that one. The city has done a survey recently and the good news is that over 70% of its residents feel that we’re really doing a pretty good job with our parks and trails. On the downside, an organization who surveys cities of 14,000 cities across the US have ranked our now 24th largest city in the US as quite a bit lower on the scale in terms of how parks and rec score. This year they’ve given us a terrible 99th ranking. Now the good news is we’re doing lots to improve that so stay tuned, we expect good things in the months to come.

Dan Martel 3:21

Fantastic. That’s excellent to know. Okay, as director of greater of the Greater Oklahoma City Parks and Trails Foundation, what role does your organization play in reminding folks of the resources that we actually have here?

Marsha Funk 3:33

Well, we work with community organizations and donors and central Oklahoma municipal, county and state agencies really to enhance our parks and trails and public spaces. We do that through several different ways, one through education, two through our programming and grant making opportunities and also through advocacy. It’s our job really to be an advocate and a cheerleader for our parks and trails and to work toward enhancing them so that all of our residents will have a wonderful quality of life.

Dan Martel 4:05

We’ve got 170ish, I guess, parks here, are our citizens, our residents out there taking advantage of these parks?

Marsha Funk 4:13

Well, that’s another good question. Some do and some don’t, and I think it depends on where you live and how close you are to a park. If you took a glass and put it down on a map in the center of Oklahoma City, you would find that the central part of our city really has pretty good access to parks and certainly since the pandemic have spent quite a bit of time outdoors, which we’re all thrilled about. But beyond that, in the areas of the new growth of the city farther west, you’ll find fewer parks and citizens are further away, so not so much in some of those areas.

Dan Martel 4:48

Okay. The other thing I also discovered was that we had more than 80 miles of trails. I mean, to me, that’s a great way to get folks to get out there and get some physical activity throughout the week. Are people aware of these trails?

Marsha Funk 5:04

Well, we certainly can do more to talk about them. Very few people know how many miles of trails we have. It’s a great place to lace up your sneakers and get out for a walk and explore just what we do have. That’s one of the things we’ll be focused on more in the next 24 months is to talk more about those trails and the new trails that we’re building and completing.

Dan Martel 5:24

That’s excellent. Marsha, one of the stats I quoted earlier in the program was that 56% of the folks living here are all within a mile and a half of a public park. What else can we do to sort of get them out, to even consider visiting the parks if they haven’t even done it yet?

Marsha Funk 5:40

Oh, that’s a good question. I think that we can talk about our parks more, and we can invite friends to join us in the park. We’re starting to see some of our parks have performing arts, children’s theater in the parks, art in the parks, storybook walks through the parks, so good things are coming. I hope all of our residents will take advantage.

Dan Martel 6:02

So, are there other ways to promote the parks? The reason I ask that is that a lot of people here in Oklahoma City know the big parks. We’re familiar with Scissortail because there’s been a lot of publicity around that park. A lot of people may know about Will Rogers Park. It’s been around for a long time. They’ve made some incredible improvements and strides in that particular part but what about the other parks?

Marsha Funk 6:24

Well, we have, as you know, actually about 170 parks, but there are different classifications of parks. Some are what I call linear parks and some are pocket parks, which are fairly small. Then you have neighborhood parks and regional parks. We really just, I think, need to talk about things a lot more. We need to get out and participate in what’s going on. When we look at some of our smaller neighborhood parks, you may not have taken a walk around Memorial Park. There’s a park in the center of the city. It’s at 36th and Classen. It has tennis courts, basketball courts, a wonderful walking trail. It’s just on the other side of the Oklahoma City Boys and Girls Club, and many people don’t know it’s there. And, of course there are Lake Hefner Trails, a place that lots of people love to go to walk and bike and run. I would highly encourage everyone even to get on our website, which let me just throw in promotion for that Please visit our website, take a look at the interactive map and find and pick a trail to explore.

Dan Martel 7:30

One of the things that attract people to any park, whether it’s a neighborhood park, a little pocket park, or one of the larger ones is the shape of the park. Do you feel like the city is doing a good job maintaining our parks?

Marsha Funk 7:44

Well I will tell you that probably depends a little bit from park to park, but a recent survey indicated that about 70% of our citizens feel we are doing a good job. Now they’re not resting on their laurels and there are great improvements planned. You probably know a little bit about the MAPS 4 excitement that’s coming, but we are all very excited about the funds that will be spent on parks and trails as a result of our MAPS 4 passing.

Dan Martel 8:12

Thanks again and what’s the best way, again, for people to find out where our parks are located?

Marsha Funk 8:16

Dan Martel 8:20

All right, well Marsha, you and your team do a great job. I want to thank you for being on our program today, Marsha Funk, the Director of the Greater Oklahoma City Parks and Trails Foundation. If you have a desire to get out there and get in a little physical activity, you don’t have to belong to a fancy gym. You can hit one of the many trails right here in the city. We’ve got over 80 miles worth, and we encourage you all to do that. Thanks again, Marsha.

Marsha Funk 8:45

Thank you.

Dan Martel 8:47

Now we want to bring in Lanc Gross, who is the Parks and Wellness Programs Manager at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Welcome Lanc.

Lanc Gross 8:55

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Dan Martel 8:56

Glad you are. We were just chatting with Marsha Funk earlier, who is the Director of the Greater Oklahoma City Parks and Trails Foundation. We were talking a little bit about getting people out to see the parks and taking advantage of the trails, not just for the beautification, but for the physical activity. Now that you head up the parks and wellness area of the Community Foundation, tell us a little bit about what you do and maybe what else we can do to encourage folks to get out there.

Lanc Gross 9:23

Sure, primarily manage the wellness activities initiative and also the parks and open space initiative. One of the things that we’ve run into that I’d say is difficult for individuals is accessibility to some of the park facilities. When you think about it, in order for people to use these spaces they have to be convenient. They have to be in good locations, say in the middle of a neighborhood or say for instance, along the river. People drive north and south and they go by the trails that are along the river quite often, but say, when you’re driving over and you see the trails, you kind of think to yourself, how do I get to those trails? Well, the city’s worked really hard to try to put parking areas and also sidewalks so that people can actually get to them. They’re actually making a really strong effort to try to make them convenient to get to.

Dan Martel 10:15

That’s interesting. I noticed for awhile there it seems like when they were building neighborhoods across the Metro, sidewalks was one of the things that they forgot about. Is that sort of a thing that’s coming back now in neighborhoods that they’re building?

Lanc Gross 10:26

Definitely. Yes. It’s part of the ordinance right now that they’ve updated, probably the last five or 10 years, to actually require sidewalks to be installed. You think about this, for the longest time throughout the eighties and nineties, in the early 2000s, there were no sidewalks really built because they weren’t required.

Dan Martel 10:47

Wow. There’s also this Wellness Alliance that you partner with here. I want to ask a little bit about what this group does and how did you become associated with these folks? Fill me in on some of that.

Lanc Gross 11:01

Sure. Working under Tracy, she’s been a great help, and she’s really introduced me to a lot of different people. The Wellness Alliance is made up of a large number of different professionals from health care to city planning basically. There’s a lot of people that concentrate on how do we make things easier for people to obtain health care, but also encourage people to have healthy lifestyles?

Dan Martel 11:34

Yeah, well it’s funny, back in January, we were talking about the latest OKCGetsFit, the wellness grants that the Foundation is now involved in and encouraging folks out there to come up with ideas to maintain a healthier lifestyle. I know that this past year, last year the Foundation launched, KeepMovingOKC, which is an online platform that will give people a listing of free and low-cost physical activity ideas. How is that initiative going since the success of the launch last year?

Lanc Gross 12:09

It’s going great. The numbers keep increasing and it’s really interesting because you go out there and you look, and there’s a wide range. I mean anything that you’re interested in it’s out there.

Dan Martel 12:20

That is outstanding and really good news to hear because it just proves that it’s working. I think the more you push an initiative like that out there, the more it makes people understand it. I mean, let’s face it, we’re the city, Oklahoma City, that was voted dead last in a fairly recent study on the healthiest cities in America. That’s not a good place to be. I appreciate the Foundation doing everything they can and folks like you getting people out there and getting them active and trying to erase that statistic. Tell me a little bit about who some of the partners that the Foundation engages with to keep not only to KeepMoving going, but some of these other wellness initiatives too around. Tell me about some of those partners, who are they?

Lanc Gross 12:59

We try to coordinate with a lot of the different cities to see what type of activities they have through their parks and rec programs. We try to put those out there. OKC Beautiful, they’ve got trash pickup, LitterBlitz and stuff like that. Those are really popular and they’ve been around, I believe since the late sixties, so that’s a very active program. But we’ll also be working with Visit Edmond because they’ve got a lot of different activities and programs that are going on, and we’re just trying to promote everything. If there’s one location to access all these things, all these activities and these different programs, it makes it convenient for people to get to.

Dan Martel 13:39

Excellent. If you’re listening right now, we would encourage any of you to check out KeepMovingOKC. I think it’s exciting that you’re seeing the numbers go up, which means more and more people are starting to use the platform. Lanc Gross, thank you so much for being with us today. We appreciate all that you are doing to keep people moving and getting a little more exercise.

Lanc Gross 14:03

Great. Thanks for having me.

Dan Martel 14:10

Now I want to bring in Leah Philpott. I know a lot of you out there may have seen Leah on television appearing in those fun KeepMovingOKC commercials. Leah, welcome to our podcast today.

Leah Philpott 14:20

Thanks Dan. It’s great to be here.

Dan Martel 14:22

Glad you’re here. Leah, you were hired as the spokesperson for the Community Foundation’s wellness initiative called KeepMovingOKC. How did that come about?

Leah Philpott

Well, I first heard about it when they were looking for their new spokesperson, and it spoke to me as a person because I’ve had a lot of health issues in my past. What I, long story short, discovered is that as long as I keep moving, then I don’t have as much pain. And, they were looking for someone pretty much to promote that very thing. I mean, not necessarily pain, but just active living and keeping healthy and getting your heart rate going and staying active. I don’t think I necessarily always looked at myself as a spokesperson type, but when it’s something you truly believe in then it’s easy and it’s fun and it’s something active. We obviously throw a little comedy in there which is really fun.

Dan Martel 15:18

I think that’s great because I know that being a professional actress, and you do like to do a lot of comedy. I thought that your comedic skills certainly added to the idea behind KeepMoving.

Leah Philpott 15:31


Dan Martel 15:31

I know noticed in one of the ads that you’re actually at a park, and I believe it’s Martin Nature Park.

Leah Philpott 15:37


Dan Martel 15:38

Where there are a lot of trails and things like that. How important is it for folks to get out there and have a little fun while engaging in physical activity?

Leah Philpott 15:45

Physical activity is really undervalued. We’re so busy in our everyday lifestyles with our gadgets and devices and sitting all the time that more than ever, it’s really important to get out and honestly just walk. All of these parks and trails that are available to everyone in Oklahoma, one, they’re beautiful, there’s lots of nature. Just getting the oxygen into your lungs and being out in nature, walking, getting your muscles moving and just being anywhere except for in front of a screen for a while is kind of detrimental to having good health.

Dan Martel 16:24

You know another one of the ads I like to talk about is you did an ice skating ad. I know that they premiered during the Olympics. I know it’s a popular sport. Tell us a little bit about that, because I know the team wrote the ad we’re kind of going, Hmm, we have to have this actress skating. We don’t have a clue if she knows how to skate. You kind of surprised people. Tell me about that.

Leah Philpott 16:57

I think they lucked out a little bit because I had assumed that was written based on looking at my special skills on my resume. When we got to the rink, I laced up my skates and said, Hey, do you mind if I go for a little warm up? No, that’s fine. I went out and started doing some laps. Apparently while I was doing those laps, there was a bit of a conversation like, Hey, did you ask her if she could skate? No. Did you. No. Oh, I guess we’re lucky that she could skate. Yeah, I used to skate as a kid back in Canada. Like most kids did, I guess.

Dan Martel 17:30

That’s excellent. Well, yeah everybody at the Foundation lucked out because of that. Then, I noticed that you also have a new commercial that’s getting ready to launch mid-March. Tell us a little bit about that.

Leah Philpott 17:41

That’s right. We filmed it a little while ago, but we’re holding off for its release for the March Madness that is coming up this month now. It was a lot of fun to film. It is a basketball commercial. I haven’t played in a long time, but I used to play. It was really fun to get out there on the court. We have our special guest Aunt Betty returning. It’s it’s a really fun one. I think everyone’s going to like it a lot.

Dan Martel 18:07

Good. Well, we’re looking forward to seeing it on television again. I know that in addition to the ads that they have you working on for KeepMoving, you’re involved with other things with KeepMoving. What are some of the other things that the foundation has you involved in?

Leah Philpott 18:20

Yeah. Outside of filming, we also have appearances that we like to do when there’s any special events going on around the city that we want to encourage people to come out to, or to put a spotlight on really so we can get some people who don’t normally do these activities to come on out. I mean, I don’t do all of these things myself. I like to stay active, but some of them are new to me. There are bike rides that happen in the evenings for all ages. They’re absolutely incredible to witness because all these people, about 10 minutes before the event, just show up with their bikes, ready to go and have a really nice ride around the city. There are races. Even in the winter there was a Christmas themed one out in Yukon that was absolutely beautiful to see and really fun too, because they had mascots like the Grinch and Santa Claus dressed up and whatnot and lots of fun activities for the kids.

Whenever there are events like these happening around the city, I like to be available to promote them and make the people who aren’t so aware that they exist more aware of them. The latest one we did was at Riversport. There was an indoor rowing competition and that was a lot of fun, not exactly my forte, but I might give it another go because it’s a full body workout and really fun and the people at Riversport are just awesome.

Dan Martel 19:49

Well, I know Leah, you have been an incredible sport, no pun intended, a great sport with all these activities and the ideas that we really want people to understand that getting out there and having a little fun is really what it’s all about. We’ve certainly enjoyed watching a lot of your ads on television and out on social media. I know that being a face for that particular initiative is very important. I know you’ve got some other things coming up. Let’s see, I understand you’re going to be at the Integris Hospital, sponsored Hispanic Health Fair in April, as well as we have Festival of the Child coming back up in the Yukon.

Leah Philpott 20:29

That’s right.

Dan Martel 20:29

It’s coming back out as well. For the first time you’re going to do the Red Bud Classic this year, which is exciting. They reached out and asked us about you and having you there. That’s exciting and because of that, Leah. I know that the foundation is going to get everybody probably t-shirts that and have a big team walk at the same time. That’s going to be quite exciting.

Leah Philpott 20:52

Yeah, I believe that there’s the 5k race and the two-mile walk. I will be participating in the two-mile walk, not the 5k race.

Dan Martel 20:59

Which is probably what I’ll do with you. I don’t think I’ll do the race as well.

Leah Philpott 21:02

The importance is that we get out there and we get active and we socialize not necessarily that we be the best at everything.

Dan Martel 21:08

Absolutely. The website, again, just for everybody is KeepMovingOKC, correct?

Leah Philpott 21:15

That is right KeepMovingOKC.

Dan Martel 21:17

There you go.

Leah Philpott 21:18

There’s an online calendar, and you can find all these awesome things that we’re talking about listed right there.

Dan Martel 21:23

There you go. Thank you for being with us today, Leah, we sure enjoy seeing you in the ads on television. We’re looking forward to the new one that starts in a couple weeks and on social media. We will see you out on the walking trails or at some park or perhaps ice skating somewhere in the city.

Leah Philpott 21:39

Thanks so much. It’s always a pleasure. Keep moving.

Dan Martel 21:44

Finally, with spring in the air, we’ve noticed that things are starting to bloom again. This past year, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation brought back their Rebloom Oklahoma initiative to help beautify our city. Today we’ve got Brian Dougherty with us to tell us a little bit about that. Brian welcome.

Brian Dougherty 20:00

Hello. Thank you.

Dan Martel 22:01

Glad you’re here. Brian, last year the Oklahoma City Community Foundation decided to give away 65,000 daffodil bulbs to various organizations ranging from neighborhoods, churches, libraries, and so forth. It was a huge success, right?

Brian Dougherty 22:17

That’s correct. As we hear, people are still talking about the last year’s bloom.

Dan Martel 22:22

Right. Let’s remind the folks one more time, how did this whole initiative get started, Brian?

Brian Dougherty 22:27

Well, there was gentleman that left part of his estate to the Community Foundation for beautification. As with some people it could be just generic beautification. He really had kind of a focus on bulbs and those flowers and a lot of times it’s how somebody remembers it. He would talk about how he remembered his mother’s flower gardens here in the city. As a tribute to this in trying to stay true to what he wanted, he had talked about hyacinth bulbs, he had talked about tulips, he had talked about daffodils. In this area daffodils are our most sustainable bulbs. If we’re really wanting to do it in the spirit of kind of an endowment that you put something in and you keep getting more and more benefits, daffodils kind of the endowment type of bulb.

Dan Martel 21:14

Excellent. I know last year you gave away 65,000 bulbs, the Foundation. This year you decided that because it was successful last year, you wanted to do it again. Tell me why you wanted to do it again. How many did you give away?

Brian Dougherty 23:28

I think it’s just value added. You turn around and do it. We had a group, we had a big group that had done part of an entry. They had done a park, they had done a green belt and they wanted to do another one, but we had a lot of people that said, we heard about this, or we saw the bulbs blooming last year. Can we get in on it next year? So, we had a big group of brand new neighborhoods, libraries, parks that wanted to get in on it. We turned around and we looked at what was available out there. We had a little over 70,000 we distributed this last year.

Dan Martel 24:02

Outstanding. I’ll bet you had some repeat customers.

Brian Dougherty 24:04

Oh yeah. About 50% were, but again, a lot of times maybe they just needed another 200 or 300 to finish off that frontage or because once you see them come up and you see them bloom, sometimes you say, wow, I wish I would’ve just done a few more at the end. We had some that was just kind of completion. Again, it’s a value added. These Daffodils are going to come up year after year and they’re going to multiply and they’re going to do it. We kind of worked with groups on how they could really do it. Not only looking at the immediate right now, but looking at two or three or five years down the road.

Dan Martel 24:43

You bet. I know there’s some specific instructions on the best time of year to plant these. The Foundation gave these bulbs away last winter.

Brian Dougherty 24:53

Yeah. We’re kind of in that Thanksgiving time. What you do is you try to catch it before the grounds are frozen, but the bulbs are there and these were all pre-chilled. These were all number one grades. These weren’t something that hadn’t been pre-chilled, they’re held, they come in. Our goal was to get them all in basically between Thanksgiving and Christmas, is really the optimum here. Then they’re going to continue to chill in the ground, then they’ll be coming up so that you are seeing them coming up all over the city now.

Dan Martel 25:23

Now here we are in March. We’re going to start seeing these?

Brian Dougherty 25:27

Yeah, we’re seeing some of the earliest varieties blooming now. I went down one neighborhood the other day and I saw in front of somebody’s house, a bunch of yellow ones. Those would’ve been some of the very earliest, but a lot of them are probably up four inches, six inches tall. Some people get real concerned about the ice last week and all, it’s going to set them back just a little, but not really. They’re going to pop right through it. Now the minus 15 last year really did some serious burn on them but like I said, we’ll just move right on through.

Dan Martel 25:57

Fantastic. What kind of response have you received from the folks? Are you guys getting calls?

Brian Dougherty 26:03

Oh yeah, we get calls. We get people that are just thrilled about them that are just showing a spirit of appreciation but on the other hand, we get a lot of pictures sent back to us because they’re so excited. Our daffodils are starting to come up and all. I think this is really an opportunity for Oklahoma City. There’s different cities that will have different kind of branding that happens. I think daffodils in little way, because it works. Some bulbs, rodents want to go into them and all. Daffodils, you don’t have that. It works well with our climates. It works well with a lot of things. People are just ready for spring.

Dan Martel 26:43

Absolutely. You bet.

Brian Dougherty 26:45

Every year you come from this unknown winter and then you come out in spring.

Dan Martel 26:50

That’s right. So, the daffodils pop up, what’s the lifespan of them once they usually start to populate and they start beautifying the city, how long do they stay up and look good?

Brian Dougherty 26:59

Oh, I think they’re going to come up and they’re going to do their thing with the blooming. Of course, with some of the different varieties, you’re going to extend it. You realize that you had some of them bloom a little earlier than others, and the amount of sun. Sometimes people will say, well, mine aren’t blooming when they’re on the north side of the street instead of the south side. The south side’s going to warm up a little more and it’s going to bloom a little earlier.

Basically, we’re going to have three, three and a half, four weeks of good yellow that’s going to be spotted around the city. Then on the long term, as long as somebody doesn’t tear up the bulb and dig all the bulbs out and throw them away, which we don’t want to happen, they’re going to turn around and multiply and that band of bulbs is just going to get thicker and thicker. Then eventually they can divide them. There’s some old estates down behind the zoo and all, and they’re just this sea of daffodils that are out there where people planted them probably back in the thirties and forties. Eventually you would like that type of thing to happen around the city.

Dan Martel 28:05

Well, I think you guys have really done a fantastic job with this initiative. Do you think you guys will do it again next year?

Brian Dougherty 28:10

I think so. I think it is so positive, and we’ve done a couple of pretty major permanent plantings. Putnam Heights we have a lot of bulbs in different places, around the old Memorial Park Fountain. In that Memorial Park we have a big display of bulbs, a big display of bulbs at Will Rogers Park. It’s kind of something that grows on you. The more people will say, wow, we didn’t know OCCF was who was doing those bulbs. I think it will go as long as you can find the bulbs and get good bulbs it’s a fun thing for people to do in the fall and then realize the benefits in the spring.

Dan Martel 28:51

Well, that about wraps it up. Brian, thank you so much for being with us today. You’re listening to Brian Dougherty who is the Director of Parks and Public Spaces here at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Brian, if there’s a voice in the community that knows about daffodils and all things that go into the ground and sprout it’s you. We thank you for being here.

Brian Dougherty 29:09

Thank you.

Dan Martel 29:13

Well that about wraps it up for us today. I want to thank you all for listening, and I hope we’ve enlightened you a little bit about our parks and trails here in central Oklahoma. I encourage you if you’re a runner, you ride a bike or just want to get out and walk while taking in some fresh air, check out all of the parks and trails we have right here in the metro. It’s a great way to get out, get some exercise, have a little fun at the same time. We look forward to seeing all of those daffodils sprinkled up around the city. Thanks to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for helping to beautify our city.

Join us again next month, as we talk about some of the ways that Community Foundation supports opportunities for children, services for the elderly, and access to health care through something called iFunds. That should be a lively discussion. We look forward to having Kelley Barnes who oversees the programs division at the foundation, and we’ll have a recent recipient of one of those grants. I’d like to wrap it up by thanking again, Marsha Funk, Lanc Gross, Leah Philpott, and Brian Dougherty today. We look forward to having you tune in with us next month. Until then I am Dan Martel and we’ll see you again on Creating Impact Through Giving.

Episode 13 Transcript: Scholarship Season is Heating Up!

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 13: Scholarship Season is Heating Up!

Dan Martel 0:34

The Oklahoma City Community Foundation has helped passionate individuals, families, and organizations create scholarships that collectively awarded over $2.8 million this past year to nearly 800 students. Hi, I’m Dan Martel. Welcome back to the pod. It’s that time of year again, when thousands of Oklahoma students begin thinking about college, and more importantly, how to pay for college. Tuition costs have increased by more than 41% over the last 10 years, which is a pretty significant gain.

So, the big question today is how are kids able to afford attending college? That’s where scholarships can come in to play and help ease the burden of students who might not be able to go to college without some form of financial assistance. Today we have Jessica Schwager, who is the Director of Scholarship Programs with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, as well as Rick Fernandez, who is the coordinator of the Central Oklahoma Guidance Counselor Network. We also have an OCCF scholarship recipient Carolina Garcia, who is a student at the Oklahoma City University. She’ll be talking with us today about what that scholarship meant to her and how it’s helping her financially. Let’s get right to it. First of all, I want to welcome Jessica Schwager back to the program. Jess, welcome back. Always great to have you.

Jessica Schwager 1:44

It’s good to be back.

Dan Martel 1:45

So, Jessica, here we are in early 2022 and students and parents, right are already talking about applying to college and the bigger discussions become, how are we gonna pay for it?

Jessica Schwager 1:56


Dan Martel 1:57

All right. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been awarding scholarships to students for several years. Tell me how all this got started.

Jessica Schwager 2:04

Yes. Our scholarship programs first started in 1970 by a man named E.K. Gaylord. We only had a few scholarships between then and about the mid-nineties, but after the Oklahoma City bombing, we were tasked to be in charge of the survivor’s education funds. Where we kind of helped serve survivors of the bombing with their education through scholarships. I think it was after that point in time, we really became known as people who were good at managing scholarships. About that time until now our scholarship program has grown to a little over 220 different scholarship funds that we manage.

Dan Martel 2:42

Man, that’s quite a bit of scholarships.

Jessica Schwager 2:44

Yes. It’s a lot of scholarships.

Dan Martel 2:45

It is. Actually, what are some of the different types of scholarships the foundation awards every year? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Jessica Schwager 2:51

Yes. We work with donors primarily to establish scholarships. Many of those donors might have unique interests. They might want to set up scholarships for certain high schools in Oklahoma City. They might be from…we have a donor from Wellston, Oklahoma who wants to establish scholarships for graduates of Wellston. We have opportunities for students across the state. We are a statewide scholarship provider. We have opportunities for rural students. We have opportunities for the Lawton community. We have opportunities for Central Oklahoma, high school students, college students, a couple for graduate students. We have really scholarships all across the board.

Dan Martel 3:34

I read that the community foundation is the state’s largest independent provider correct…?

Jessica Schwager 3:39

That’s correct.

Dan Martel 3:39

Of scholarships across the state, which is pretty impressive. What are we talking about? I mean, how big is it? How many scholarships does the foundation give out every year? What kind of money are we talking about?

Jessica Schwager 3:50

Well, we’re talking about a lot of money that we manage here. We, this last year awarded about $2.8 million in scholarships.

Dan Martel 3:57


Jessica Schwager 3:58

Yeah. Since last year we’ve had another 14 scholarships come to us, new scholarships that we’ll be awarding again this year. I’m imagining that we might be hitting close to that $3 million mark here pretty soon. Then last year we awarded a little over 800 students with scholarships.

Dan Martel 4:14

It’s a lot of kids needing some help. I think that is certainly a worthy cause. If a student is already in college, does the foundation help there too if they wanted to get a scholarship, even though they’re already in college?

Jessica Schwager 4:26

Good question. We do have some scholarship programs for students already in college. We have a couple of programs, we have one that if a student has been awarded one of our Community Foundation Scholars scholarship, which is for graduating high school senior, if they are in the state of Oklahoma at a college, they can apply for this renewal scholarship. That’s kind of an enhancement to that other scholarship. Then we have some other scholarships that donors set up say for OU, OSU, UCO, OCU, Langston, Cameron. We have some kind of pockets of scholarship money that students can apply for at different colleges here as well.

What’s nice is that we offer scholarships to say nontraditional students, students who are looking into going to school. Say they have been in the workforce for a couple of years we have nursing scholarships. Say there’s a nurse who’s been in the workforce, but then she wants to go back and get her bachelor’s degree. She could then apply for our scholarships as well. So, we have a lot of different opportunities that students should definitely check out.

Dan Martel 5:23

You know, one of the things…I saw a meme recently that was interesting too. They were talking about a lawyer, there was a young, well-dressed lawyer who was walking down the street with his briefcase. It said he’s making $130,000 a year, but he owes about $100,000 in debt with school. Then they showed a picture of a plumber, said he owes no debt. He makes about $160,000 a year. My understanding is that the foundation also gives scholarships to students that want to attend a Vo-Tech. Is that correct?

Jessica Schwager 5:54

That is correct. Actually, most of our scholarships could go for students if they’re planning to attend a Vo-Tech. Actually, there have been a few students we’ve awarded who are going straight to cosmetology school. Then as soon as they’re done getting their cosmetology degree, then they go off to a four-year school and we’re able to support them in that as well. We have a lot of different opportunities for those students interested in going into Vo-Tech.

Dan Martel 6:16

I think that’s exciting because you know, we do need plumbers. We do need mechanics. We do need aviation technicians, those kinds of things. The fact that the OCCF offers scholarships for Vo-Tech is pretty exciting as well.

Jessica Schwager 6:27

Yes, it is.

Dan Martel 6:29

What’s the best way for students to learn about the scholarships that the Oklahoma City Community Foundation offers?

Jessica Schwager 6:34

What I always say, because I have a lot of students and parents reaching out to me and saying, Hey, this is a little bit about me or about my student. What am I eligible for? And unfortunately, I don’t know everything about that student. I can’t really tell a list of scholarships that they might be eligible for. For instance, if that student goes to Norman North High School at Norman and they’re playing football they might be eligible, are two different scholarships we have to offer, but they might have not told me that they’re playing football or something like that. I always recommend to them to go to our scholarship website, There’s going to be a ‘How To Apply’ video on that website. They’ll watch that, they’ll create an account in our scholarship system. Then what happens is the students will kind of create this profile about themselves and then our website will recommend scholarships for them to apply for. I think the best bet is just to go to our website, create an account and then it will recommend opportunities for them.

Dan Martel 7:32

Okay. Let’s say you’ve got a handful of students. They’ve all applied. What’s the next step? How are these, how are certain students awarded? How did the recipients receive the news that, Hey, you’ve been selected to receive a scholarship?

Jessica Schwager 7:47

So, we have hit the spring scholarship season where we have a lot of deadlines happening. We have quite a few deadlines coming up March 1st. What will happen as students will apply for those scholarships? Then what we do is we enlist the help of people in our community, people at our foundation, people from local nonprofits to help us review all of those scholarship applications. It’s a very intensive, very competitive process. I do recommend to students that they make sure that all of their applications are complete. Make sure they’re reading the instructions, applying for the scholarships that they’re eligible for and making sure all of those applications are complete. If the application requires a transcript, be sure a transcript is submitted and attached.

Once that happens, once the applications close, what we do is we look at all the applications, we get them out to our reviewers to review. Then typically it us take about two to three weeks for those reviews to take place. Once the reviews take place and an awardee has been determined we will send that awardee a letter in the mail. Then a lot of times we are doing emails as well, just because we know that we don’t want to keep students waiting for a lot of those scholarships. But then also a lot of times we’re actually able to go to that student’s awards banquet in May and present the student with the scholarship at that time. It really is kind of a waiting game for students right now. Once they apply on March 1st, then we will hopefully get all that awarded information out by mid-May at the latest, whenever their awards ceremonies take place.

Dan Martel 9:18

Now I know that one of the things the foundation does is hold luncheons for these, what you call community foundation scholars. Can you tell us how that works and how those students are selected?

Jessica Schwager 9:29

Yes, well, the past couple of years, unfortunately because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to do those lunches. Fingers crossed we’re able to do them this year. That group of students is actually selected through an application process in our online website that closed in December. It’s our earliest deadline and this group of students they were reviewed by their high school counselors. They were known for kind of their community service. They had to have a certain GPA and so they were selected and then they have to be approved by our scholarship committee, which is this governing board that we have.

Then we also have a group of students in addition to those community foundation scholars who are first generation scholars. They apply the same kind of similar way, they’re selected, then we invite both of those groups of students to our luncheons. We have the luncheons over a series of four days. We invite those students from 54 different high schools in central Oklahoma to come to the luncheons. We break them up to about 50 to 60 students per day. What’s really neat is they’ll get the opportunity to meet us at the foundation, see the foundation, get a really nice lunch. Then we also invite any donors to their scholarships, to those banquets as well. They get a chance to connect with their donors.

Dan Martel 10:40

That’s exciting. That’s really cool. I am curious about this. Have you ever had a student that’s received a scholarship from the foundation since you’ve been the head of the department here that maybe have gone to college and maybe came back a few years later just to say, thank you.

Jessica Schwager 10:55

Yes, we have that all the of time. I think that’s actually probably the most rewarding part of working this job. In fact, it was really neat. I connected with a student a couple years ago when I first started at the program and she actually reached out to me, it would’ve been last year and she said, I received this scholarship. I just wanted to know how I can help you all. I want to spread the word about scholarships. What’s really neat about her, her name is Sophie Graham and she is featured in our ‘How To Apply’ video on all of her websites because she just reached out and said, how can I help? What can I do? She was more than willing to come up here and film a video for us. She did a great job. A lot of times we have those students who come up and thank us for everything we’ve done.

Dan Martel 11:35

That’s great. It’s always nice to know that your hard work is thanked every now and then. Okay, Jess, one more time, what is the best way for students who’d like to apply for a scholarship what do they need to do?

Jessica Schwager 11:46

Well, they need to get on it right now. Do not wait. If you’re listening to this right now, make sure that you get into our website, go to There will be a ‘How To Apply’ video on that website, watch the video. Then there’s a link to our scholarship application through there. I think it’s very important students watch that video because it’s going to kind of walk them through the process and how to create an account and an application. Then they’ll at that application. I’d say, get on it right now. We have a lot of deadlines coming up, especially a big March 1st deadline. Do not wait, get on it now. If they have any questions at all, our contact information is right there on our website, So, reach out to us if they have questions.

Dan Martel 12:28

All right. If you’re a student right now and you’re looking to go to college or a Vo-Tech, or trying to enhance your future career with a great scholarship from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, you’ll definitely want to go to If you’re a parent out there listening, you just heard it’s the same address. Jessica, thanks again for being with us, enlightening us about scholarships. It looks like you all have been very busy and will be very busy in the coming weeks, plowing through applications, making students very happy by selecting some of the scholarship recipients for 2022. It’s exciting. Good luck with that.

Jessica Schwager 13:05

Thank you so much, Dan.

Dan Martel 13:08

Now we want to bring in Rick Fernandez, Rick works a lot with guidance counselors across the state, and when it comes to helping students learn about scholarships, he’d be the guy to go to at OCCF. Rick, welcome to the pod today.

Rick Fernandez 13:19

Great to be here.

Dan Martel 13:20

Well, glad you’re here. Let’s just jump right in Rick. What role does a guidance counselor play in the role of actually helping students when it comes to applying for various scholarships?

Rick Fernandez 13:30

Well, for many students and families the guidance counselor may be their only source for information on college admissions and financial aid. We rely on counselors across the state to assist us for scholarship promotion and helping students apply.

Dan Martel 13:42

So, what’s the role of the Community Foundation and how do you all work with guidance counselors?

Rick Fernandez 13:47

Well, I manage the Central Oklahoma Guidance Counselor Network. It’s a trustee initiative as well as various other scholarships across the state. Through the Guidance Counselor Network, we host two free workshops a year for counselors that feature specific information on college admissions, financial aid and campus visits to university, colleges and technology centers in Oklahoma and neighboring states.

Dan Martel 14:09

So, do you actually go out to the schools across the state and make visits? Do you supply them the, the school counselors with some kind of information packet? How does all that work?

Rick Fernandez 14:19

Yes. I go and so does the scholarship staff. We attend college fairs and student application workshops at schools in central Oklahoma, and in various communities across the state. We do scholarship brochure mailers statewide, as well as social media promotion.

Dan Martel 14:36

I’m curious to know, just with Oklahoma City Community Foundation, obviously being located here, percentage of applicants that come from outside of the Metro area, do you have that stat?

Rick Fernandez 14:47

I don’t have a particular percentage, but I would say 60% of our applications come from central Oklahoma and probably the other 35 to 40% do come outside the central Oklahoma.

Dan Martel 14:58

All right. You get quite a bit that are applying for the scholarships here. That’s that’s excellent. I was curious to know how you all work with some of the rural areas. You mentioned 35-40% come outside the metro too.

Rick Fernandez 15:10

I would say counselors in all school districts work very hard to assist students in the college and career application process. We cannot get the students awarded without their assistance. Fortunately, we have a liaison named Wanda Minter and she is our liaison that works directly with rural schools in the Lawton Community Foundation. She is terrific.

Dan Martel 15:28

So COVID has kinda played a real interesting role in so many factors of our lives over the last couple years. I’m sure that it’s affected scholarships. People interested in applying and maybe I won’t go to school this time or whatever. How has that worked in terms of the increase or decrease in the number of applications you all see here?

Rick Fernandez 15:51

Initially we saw a decrease in the number of applications when COVID hit and the schools were forced to go virtual. We did see a significant drop off, but we quickly rebounded this fall as schools opened back up and they were no longer full-time virtual. The application process, we pretty well rebounded from we were a year and a half ago.

Dan Martel 16:13

Well, that’s good news and people are finally starting to take it serious again and get out there. What else, Rick, is there anything else you can tell us about this particular counselor group?

Rick Fernandez 16:25

Well, the Central Oklahoma Guidance Counselor Network consists of 54 schools here in central Oklahoma. Specifically, we have some guaranteed scholarships at those schools for first generation students and students that meet a specific GPA requirement. It’s a great opportunity. It’s not necessarily a need-based scholarship, and we probably do anywhere from 150-200 awards out of this trustee initiative scholarship program each year.

Dan Martel 16:50

That’s exciting. We were talking to Jessica Schwager just before you came on and didn’t realize, but this is, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is the largest independent scholarship provider in the state, which is a fact that we want as many people to know as possible.

Rick Fernandez 17:05

Right. We didn’t start out that way, but thankfully for our donors in the community they have made it happen.

Dan Martel 17:12

Fantastic. Well, Rick, thank for being with us today. This is Rick Fernandez, the Coordinator of Central Oklahoma Guidance Counselor Network with the foundation. Thanks for being with us.

Rick Fernandez 17:21

Thank you.

Dan Martel 17:25

Now I want to bring in Carolina Garcia, a student at Oklahoma City University who received the Dortha Dever Business Scholarship from the foundation. Welcome Carolina. Glad you’re here.

Carolina Garcia 17:34

Hello. Thank you for having me.

Dan Martel 17:36

Now I want to put this particular scholarship in context, Dortha Dever was a successful business woman here in Oklahoma City, who prior to her death established this scholarship for women who wanted to major in business at Oklahoma City University with a preference to those majoring in finance, accounting management, or economics. Obviously, you’re one of those students.

Carolina Garcia 17:58

Yes, that is me.

Dan Martel 17:59

Well, welcome again. Let’s just jump right in Carolina. What was it like early on in the process, as you were beginning to explore various scholarships that might have been made available to you?

Carolina Garcia 18:12

Well it was definitely on the harder side. I think that when I first started looking for scholarships, I didn’t necessarily know where to go. But I do remember that my high school counselor was the one who told me about this foundation and was like you know what, why don’t you just try it? The worst that can happen is no, is not get a scholarship. It was a bit hard before I found this foundation, particularly because once you found this one, I think that it was easy because you had a whole list of stuff and it was specifically in Oklahoma. It was a lot less competitive than the bigger scholarships that you find all around the state.

Dan Martel 18:50

Fantastic. How did you hear about the Oklahoma City Community Foundation? I know you mentioned your counselor that kind of talked to you, were there other students that maybe you knew that may have talked about it at all?

Carolina Garcia 19:02

I’ve seen a lot. I think that upperclassmen sometimes that they would announce that they got scholarships. I would always be curious of about where they got these scholarships from. I think a lot of the times that I reached out, it always ended up coming back to the same Oklahoma City Foundation. I think that it was easier in that specs because everyone was going towards the same foundation for scholarships.

Dan Martel 19:30

Absolutely. I want to talk about this particular one that you received the Dortha Dever. What were some of the steps that you took to apply for this particular scholarship?

Carolina Garcia 19:41

I had to apply for it. I think it was from my sophomore, the summer before my junior year. It was pretty nice because I think my counselor at my university was the one who reached out and sent the application and said that they had this awesome scholarship that not a lot of people were applying to. I jumped at the opportunity. It was kind of just your basic application, make sure you had all the requirements, which thankfully I hit every one. I’m a student, I’m business, I had the grade point average and everything so it worked out. It was filling out the information, I believe there was still a scholarship essay but nothing too hard. Everything, it just felt like it fit perfectly.

Dan Martel 20:29

That’s really good news. How did you find out you were chosen to be the recipient of this scholarship? How did that happen?

Carolina Garcia 20:37

Well, actually I believe I had an email, but it was not on my school email, so I didn’t check it. I was pleasantly surprised by the mail, the letter in the mail. I came home and my mom, obviously I have that kind of mom who there was no boundaries and she opened my mail for me. She had already opened it and she’s like, Hey, I think you got something from your school. I was like what is it? I opened it and I was like, this isn’t from my school mom, this is from a scholarship. It was like a really nice pleasant surprise to come home and see like the letter and it explaining to you the Dortha Dever scholarship and the amount and you know, all the requirements.

Dan Martel 21:18

What did your mom say when you let her know?

Carolina Garcia 21:20

Oh, I think at this point she’s not as impressed as she was when I first started applying to scholarships, but she was very proud of me for sure. I think she was like, well, like how did you do it? You didn’t even tell me you applied. Sometimes I don’t really tell her when I applied to all the scholarships just for the, you know, she just is I’m her daughter so she expects me to get them all. She thinks I’m most deserving.

Dan Martel 21:45

What are mom’s for? Absolutely. I get it. Tell me a little bit about what you’re studying now and do you think that this scholarship was a big help in helping you attend college?

Carolina Garcia 21:56

Yeah, so currently I’m studying marketing business admin with a major in marketing. I plan on going into accounting actually for my masters which is a little weird jump. Right. But I think your gen-eds are for that so their business gen-eds make you try all aspects of the business school. I think that accounting was the one for me and I really enjoyed it. But I also really like marketing. I thought, why not the best of both worlds? When I applied, I didn’t really think I was going to get it because I was like, I need to explain to them that I’m marketing, but I want accounting. Maybe they won’t give it to me because the preference in accounting. But it worked out thankfully and it’s still my path, it’s in the business school and anything business is really what I enjoy.

Dan Martel 22:48

Of course.

Carolina Garcia 22:49

The scholarship was really a pleasant surprise because I do…a lot of my scholarships are need based, financial based. At the farther you go into your college career, the less you have of that money that you start off with. The bills started to get a little higher as you go on. It was really nice because it really helped cushion the spot where I was needing to start to pay for it on my own.

Dan Martel 23:19

Okay. It’s helped you then in the financial sense, which is, I guess what they’re all about.

Carolina Garcia 23:24


Dan Martel 23:27

One more question here. What kinds of things made it a little easier once you received the scholarship?

Carolina Garcia 23:33

Yeah, it helped me with my tuition which was probably the biggest help for sure. I was able to buy my books on campus, which made it so much easier. It really helped in the sense that I was able to just like not have to worry so much.

Dan Martel 23:52

And textbooks are not cheap anymore. That is a fact. Well thank you for being with us today, Carolina and congratulations on being awarded the Dortha Dever scholarship. I hope you’ll tell others that you know about applying at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation when they might be in the market looking for scholarships and we enjoyed having you on the program.

Carolina Garcia 24:12

Of course. Thank you.

Dan Martel 24:13

Well that about wraps it up for us today. I want to thank you all for listening and I hope we’ve brought you some good information when it comes to applying for scholarships. Listen, if you’re a student out there and wanting to go to college, or if you’re a parent of a potential college bound student, just visit us at, because this is the time of year where you need to start diving in and looking at all the different types of scholarships that are available to your student.

Again, the OCCF is the largest independent provider of scholarships in the state, and hopefully we’ll be able to help you garner one of those scholarships for the coming school year. Join us again next month, when we’ll have a robust discussion on Oklahoma City’s parks and trails, that will include guest Leah Philpot, who you may have seen on television as the foundation’s KeepMovingOKC spokesperson as well as Marsha Funk and our own Brian Daugherty, as he will bring us up to speed on some of the thousands of daffodils that are now looming right here in OKC. You won’t want to miss that.

I want to thank Jessica Schwager, Rick Fernandez again, and Carolina Garcia for being on the program today. We look forward to having you back with us next month until then I’m Dan Martel. We’ll see you again on Creating Impact Through Giving.

Episode 12 Transcript: OKCGetsFit Wellness Grants

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 12: OKCGetsFit Wellness Grants

Dan Martel 0:33

Hi, I’m Dan Martel. Welcome back to the pod. Glad you’re back with us today. And I hope you’ll find today’s topic informative. It’s that time of year again, as you know it, this is the time of year when people make all those resolutions that nobody really sticks to. One of the most popular, of course, people committing to eat better, lose weight, join a gym. We’ve heard all the stories. Well recently there was a survey done and out of the 100 most popular cities in America, Oklahoma City was voted the unhealthiest city in the country. That’s right, last place.

Our neighbors, a little Northeast of us, Tulsa, fared a little bit better coming in at number 98. So, think about that for a minute. Living in the unhealthiest city in America, right here in OKC. So, the president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Nancy Anthony thought we should take some action here at the foundation, and she’s come up with a new wellness grant for those who want to turn some of those stats around.

Today, we’re going to be talking with Nancy, Anthony and Kelley Barnes, the Vice President of Community Engagement with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. It’s her department that will oversee this particular initiative. So, let’s jump right in. Nancy Anthony, welcome to the podcast.

Nancy Anthony 1:39

Thank you very much. It’s great to be here.

Dan Martel 1:41

So, Nancy, I remember you walking into a meeting one day at the foundation, throwing an article down on the table that showed that Oklahoma City had been voted the unhealthiest city in America. I know the foundation’s been involved in the wellness arena for many, many years. You and some of the folks that you work with decided that this might be a good time to take some action. What did you do?

Nancy Anthony 2:02

Well, I have to say, I wasn’t really surprised. Probably disappointed that we hadn’t made any more progress than we had, but the reality is we just don’t have very good indicators for things about people’s health. Which is really, they call it wellness, but it really is disease. We have a lot of disease issues here, but in order to address those things, you have to think about what can you do to; number one, prevent the disease and how can you stay healthy?

So preventing things, you know, you can do testing and normal sorts of things, but to stay healthy, you have to eat right and keep active. We decided that those were the two areas that we could work on within the foundation, because that really is part of everybody’s life. What we really do here is not necessarily treat illness as much as we just try to help people do the right things with their lives. To eat healthy is one thing, but to try to get fit and to stay active is another thing.

We decided to really try to focus on the get active part and really try to encourage people to do something every day. Whether they walk, run, jump, whatever would work for them, but to start moving around and becoming more active, because that is a very great prevention for heart disease and strokes and also mental health for that matter.

Dan Martel 3:16

Absolutely. And you’re right, especially in the time of COVID too, a lot of people are climbing at the bit to get out and, you know, people talk about when you’re in college, you always put on the freshman 15 and now there’s the COVID 15. KeepMovingOKC is a pretty interesting initiative that the foundation oversees. That’s really all about physical activity and finding those kinds of things. This is a little bit different. You guys right now at the foundation are coming up with an initiative in the form of a grant, a wellness grant. Can you tell me a little bit about how that’s going to work?

Nancy Anthony 3:47

Well, KeepMoving is a way for organizations in the community that have activities to promote those activities. But we also found that there were people that wanted to do things that just needed a little bit more support. And we also wanted to encourage a little more creativity around things that people could do to become active. Not everybody wants to work out for a marathon or to buy a bike and go down to a trail, but they might want to go do a yoga class somewhere, or they might want to go and just walk around the park. So, we needed to come up with some ways that would encourage people to do that. We felt like offering a little bit of financial support might put together some activities.

In order to move the needle, we have to have more people doing things. And so, not only do we need to communicate that it was important, but we needed to try to encourage it with some incentives.

Dan Martel 4:33

So, what did you do to sort of get the word out to people in the community that the foundation was giving away grants anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000? I mean, what did people have to do to apply for those grants?

Nancy Anthony 4:46

Well, we’re looking for ideas, and the important thing about the idea is what could you encourage somebody to do to actually move? The second thing is what group of people could you encourage to do that? Because we want to encourage people to do things who weren’t doing things. And the last thing is probably the most important thing is, what would be the incentive to get those people to participate? Is it a social activity? Is it a health activity? Is it just something that’s going to be fun for them to do. So those are sort of the three things. So, we encourage people to think about that and then send us some information about it. And maybe we can put together some way to support that.

Dan Martel 5:20

I think that is an outstanding idea. I mean, out of the top 100 cities, Oklahoma City was dead last.

Nancy Anthony 5:27

But we’re going to improve. We’re going to do better.

Dan Martel 5:28

That’s good. So, the grants, as we’ve just mentioned, they can be large or small. So, tell us a little bit about some of the things that you’re seeing. I mean, what…

Nancy Anthony 5:35

Well, one of the things that was interesting, everybody knows that going up and down the steps is okay for you and you can actually get some exercise going up and down the steps. And we actually had a group to promote a step climbing activity. You could be very aggressive, like pretending like you’re climbing a mountain, or it could just be an everyday let’s have a race and see who can do the best time for going up and down a certain set of steps or just counting steps. So, it’s interesting to think, because everybody has steps available to them. And if your knees aren’t too bad, then you can probably get a lot of exercise out of steps. And so, you could put some kind of an incentive around that, whether it be social or economic or whatever, to encourage people just to take the steps.

Dan Martel 6:15

You probably have a committee that looks over these applications when people apply for these types of grants, what do you guys see? What types of organizations might get a grant like this? Or is it still too early to even talk about that?

Nancy Anthony 6:26

Well, it could be anything. If you have a group of people and you think you can figure out how to encourage them to do something and you have an organization, any group that falls into that category. It could be a church, it could be a neighborhood. It could be an organization that has a venue and they just would like that venue used more, like walking around the zoo or walking around a park or doing something while you’re walking around, either listening to music or talking to people or reading a book aloud or whatever might happen. But there are lots of things that will encourage you to do something. It’s just a matter of who are the group of people and what incentive can you provide for them to participate.

Dan Martel 6:59

This is only the first round, you’re doing another round this spring, is that correct?

Nancy Anthony 7:03

Sure. We’re learning about this just as well as anybody. I mean, we want to try a few things and, you know, maybe make some mistakes, but maybe find some real opportunities. You never know. I mean, this is a different approach to things.

Dan Martel 7:17

Absolutely. Well, it’s interesting. I find it interesting. If you look back several years ago, then former Mayor Mick Cornett challenged the city and put them, challenged them to lose a million pounds. That sort of gained and garnished some pop culture. You know, the former mayor was on television and this kind of thing. We’re incentivizing people here at the foundation. You guys are actually incentivizing people to come up with ideas to basically move and get your physical act together, sort of right.

Nancy Anthony 7:43

That’s right. And one of the things that we’ve learned in this whole promotion is getting fit can be fun. It doesn’t have to be drudgery. You don’t have to go out and feel like you’re doing chin ups or, you know, running a mile faster than anyone else. It can be fun. So, the whole idea of this is how can you put a fun layer around something that really then encourages people to do it because they enjoyed doing it.

Dan Martel 8:04

Excellent. The foundation also partners with other organizations that encourage better health and physical activities. How do you guys work with partners like that?

Nancy Anthony 8:12

Well, we work with the YMCA, they have a lot of opportunities there, and we like to encourage people to do that. There are different kinds of running clubs and biking clubs around that have races that also do training around those kinds of things. And those are obvious kinds of ways, but we like to give those people an opportunity to attract other people. A lot of the parks programs, both in Oklahoma City and Edmond and Moore all have activities that not only for children and young people, but also for adults. So, we like to help promote, as much as we possibly can, things that other people are doing because it takes a wide variety of locations and sponsors to really attract enough people to really kind of get us out from being number 100.

Dan Martel 8:53


Nancy Anthony 8:53

We have to get a whole lot more people engaged.

Dan Martel 8:55

So Nancy, when will you all decide as a foundation, when will you decide on who would receive these first grants and when do you think the second round will happen?

Nancy Anthony 9:04

The trustees meet in the third week in February. So, after that will be probably the first round of grants, and then we’ll see. I’m going to guess it probably would be more like the middle of summer for the second round. But again, we want to learn something from the first time to see what happens. Then also give people a longer period of time to sort of think about this, because we only announced this back in December. So, we haven’t had a lot of time for people to think and plan. So, this second round will be interesting too.

Dan Martel 9:30

Well, Nancy, if there were any of our listeners out there that might have a question regarding this new wellness grant. This is brand new. I mean, I don’t know of anybody that’s ever done this; incentivizing people to come up with creative ideas to again, to your point, have fun and then still, you know, get a little more fit than number 100. What do they need to do? Who do they need to reach out to?

Nancy Anthony 9:48

Well, they can just come to the Community Foundation’s website, there’s information there at And there’s also information and links from, which is another website, which actually has lots of information about other ways you can keep fit in the community.

Dan Martel 10:03

All right. Well, thank you, Nancy. I will say that nobody ever said Oklahoma City was dead last in the country for creativity. So, my hope is that there’ll be enough people out there that’ll take your advice and come up with some great ideas between now and the middle of summer, and who knows they could get paid for coming up with the next great thing. You know, it’s exciting. Thanks for being on the podcast today.

Nancy Anthony 10:24

Thanks very much. We look forward to seeing what the results are going to be.

Dan Martel 10:30

So now we want to bring in Kelley Barnes the Vice President of Community Engagement with the foundation. Kelley, welcome to the podcast today.

Kelley Barnes 10:36

Thank you, Dan. I’m happy to be here.

Dan Martel 10:37

Glad you are here. So Kelley, we’ve been talking to Nancy a little bit ago and we’ve been talking about the upcoming wellness grants that you guys here at the foundation are going to be providing. You call it OKCGetsFit. Why is this new initiative so important for the community here?

Kelley Barnes 10:52

Well, a lot of government and philanthropic funding is directed to toward the treatment of sickness and disease. Very little is dedicated to actual prevention and wellness. Wellness is really a state of being, it’s an ongoing lifestyle. It includes physical fitness, eating healthy, mental and spiritual wellbeing, healthy relationship, and really a sense of community. While the Oklahoma City Community Foundation can’t address all of these things, we’ve channeled our efforts into addressing physical activity as a lifestyle. Even with a singular focus OCCF will only be able to have an impact if we can help to build momentum and work with our partners across central Oklahoma.

Dan Martel 11:41

Okay. You know, I know one of the things that the foundation has is something called iFunds and we’ll get into, I know we’re going to have a whole podcast about iFunds later on in the year.

Kelley Barnes 11:50


Dan Martel 11:50

I believe that there’s one that is actually focused on the access to health care. How does this initiative, this OKCGetsFit, this wellness initiative, how does this differ from one of the iFunds and or is there some kind of a connection?

Kelley Barnes 12:05

Well, there is a connection, and yet they are very different. Our Access to Health Care iFund is really helping individuals who are underinsured and uninsured access healthcare services. So, if they’re sick, if they have a disease so that they would have a place to go to get treatment and to get medicine and things of that nature. OKCGetsFit grant is really investing funding to help individuals and families and the community as a whole engage in healthy lifestyles through the course of their daily lives. Ideally, if people can commit to wellness, they will need fewer direct health care services as they get older.

Dan Martel 12:49

All right. Well, good to know. I’m glad you were able to clear that up. I was very curious about that. One of the things that I know that that Nancy had talked about earlier was that we’re actually getting ready to make an announcement for these particular grants, this first round. So you’ve had people apply.

Kelley Barnes 13:03

We have.

Dan Martel 13:04

First question I have is how did you get the word out? How did people even know about this wellness grant?

Kelley Barnes 13:08

Well, we did a lot of things social media wise, and we also did some television ads featuring our new spokesperson, Leah Philpot and those were really well received. We have great information meetings and we send out information to our database of folks and we feature everything on our website. So, people who know that the community foundation makes investments in the community frequently look to our website as a source as well.

Dan Martel 13:38

So, there’s sort of a tie in between this KeepMoving initiative, which is kind of a platform that people can go to, to find free and low-cost physical activities to stay fit. Then this is such a unique wellness grant because you’re actually incentivizing people to come up with ideas to hopefully encourage people to get fit. Correct?

Kelley Barnes 13:59


Dan Martel 14:00

This is unique in that you’re actually giving people money to think about ideas,

Kelley Barnes 14:06

Right. They have to think about them, but then they also have to do them. Yes, there should be some thinking involved and some strategy and we want it to be fun. We want people to collaborate so that we’re reaching diverse audiences and we’re having impact in the community. We want people to utilize the parks and our public spaces. I mean, that’s a really important component of the grant and definitely utilizing our website that features free and low-cost physical fitness activities that are happening throughout the metro. We’re hoping to kind of tie all of these things together through unique organizations who are really thinking about this and can come to the Community Foundation with a proposal for a program or an activity that you know, can be ongoing and sustainable and perhaps even scalable.

Dan Martel 15:03

The other thing we talked about earlier on this program, Kelley, was the fact that after this first round of wellness grant applications, there’s going to be a second round coming up in the spring. Is that correct?

Kelley Barnes 15:12

There is going to be a spring round. We don’t have the exact dates yet, but it will be coming. We are reviewing our first cycle of proposals and those will go to the trustees probably in February, and then we’ll have a spring grant cycle and we’ll have, again, lots of announcements around that through social media and our website and a grant information meeting. We’ll get the word out about that for sure.

Dan Martel 15:38

Fantastic. I guess my final question to you is, are you hopeful that the Community Foundation will enact some change in people’s behavior by this initiative? I mean, I know it takes time to see something like this in a community, but I mean, I don’t think there’s anybody else in town doing what this initiative is doing for people or can do for people in the community.

Kelley Barnes 15:58

I know, and I really you know, was even the first of its kind nationally. If there is something else out there I’d like to know about it. You know, behavior change is really complex. It’s hard to get people to change their behavior. What we’re really hoping to do is motivate people to make a lifelong change in their approach to wellness. We’re looking for approaches that really inspire particularly sedentary individuals to try an activity and perhaps stick with it for the long term. You know aren’t we all challenged by that. That’s what we’re really hoping for through this grant program, is to see some unique ideas come forward that help inspire people to get active in their community and engage with the parks and our beautiful spaces that we have here.

Dan Martel 16:55

Well, Kelley I think that is outstanding. Thanks for being with us today. I appreciate you being here.

Kelley Barnes 17:00

Thank you for your time.

Dan Martel 17:02

Thanks for being with us, Kelley. We certainly hope this new wellness grant will energize people to consider more physical activity. I mean, nobody wants to be part of last place. Thank you for all you do for the foundation. It’s very encouraged to see an organization like the OCCF doing its part to help people who want to begin living a more healthy lifestyle. As Leah mentions in the ad, “Come on OKC, we can do this!” And we can. We have nowhere else to go but up. Let’s all take advantage of this incredible opportunity the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is giving us and let’s get fit.

Before we go, we’re going to give you a little sneak preview of next month’s podcast, which is going to be all about scholarships. I wanted to bring in Jessica Schwager to give us a little update on the OCCF scholarships and talk a little bit about when students should be applying and maybe what they should be doing right now. Welcome, Jess.

Jessica Schwager 17:54

Thank you so much for having me.

Dan Martel 17:55

We’re looking forward to talking about scholarships next month and we wanted to just kind of bring you on today to kind of maybe give our listeners just a little bit of little update as to maybe what students should be thinking about right now.

Jessica Schwager 18:06

Yes. Right now, students have already pretty much applied for admission to college. Now they’re probably starting to think about how they’re going to pay for college and that’s where we come in. Right now, I would encourage students to already get going on our scholarship website. Start looking at scholarships. In fact, we have several scholarship deadlines coming up pretty quickly. Students really need to get in there and start looking at some of those applications.

Dan Martel 18:29

Where should they go to find some things, Jess?

Jessica Schwager 18:32

So, it is There is a “How to Apply” video on the website. I always encourage students to go ahead and look at that video because it’s going to walk them step by step through the scholarship process. Then from there they will click a link that takes them to the scholarship application.

Dan Martel 18:51

Okay. Fantastic. Well, we’re looking forward to hearing about some of the new scholarships and I think we’re going to actually have a recipient, a scholarship recipient on the podcast next month.

Jessica Schwager 19:01

We are.

Dan Martel 19:02

We’re excited about having the student on here and talking a little bit about how you all work with guidance counselors. If you’re you interested in a scholarship or wanting to go to college and need a little financial assistance, you don’t want to miss this program. Thanks, Jess.

Jessica Schwager 19:16

Thank you.

Dan Martel 19:18

Well that about wraps it up today. I’d like to thank our guests, Nancy Anthony, and Kelley Barnes for being with us and offering up their expertise and to Jessica Schwager, who will be back with us next month. You want to tune in for that as we’ll be talking about scholarships with Jessica, Rick Fernandez of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and we’ll also be talking with a couple of students who have been recipients of some of the scholarships provided by the foundation. Again, I’m Dan Martel. I look forward to having you join us again on Creating Impact Through Giving.

Episode 11 Transcript: Let's Talk Year-End Giving

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 11: Let’s Talk Year-End Giving

Dan Martel 0:33

Hello, I’m Dan Martel. Welcome back to the pod. Man, we sure have missed all of you folks. We’re glad to be back after taking a little hiatus, and I hope you find today’s topic informative as we come to the end of yet another calendar year. Where does the time go? Our guests today are Nancy Anthony, the president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and Rachel Mouton who oversees the GiveSmartOKC platform with the foundation. Before we get too far, I want to remind our donors that our 2021 annual report will be arriving soon. Look for it to land in your mailbox in a matter of just days. We think you’ll find it informative as it includes plenty of stories that have shaped us over the last several months. So, let’s get right to it. First of all, I want to welcome back Nancy Anthony to the program. Nancy, welcome. Glad you’re back.

Nancy Anthony 1:17

Thanks. Glad to be here.

Dan Martel 1:19

Nancy, it’s that time of year where folks begin to think about year-end giving, sort of the type of charitable organizations they might want to support, maybe the type of gifts they want to leave to an organization or perhaps what kind of legacy they might want to leave for themselves and to the community. So, first question I want to ask you here is, you know, every year when it comes to charitable giving, there seems to be some changes that always are made legislatively when it comes to charitable giving. What are some of the changes being knocked around or that may have happened over the last year?

Nancy Anthony 1:48

Well, for most people, the ability to deduct up to $300 for an individual or $600 for a couple is a new thing this year. There were some changes in the tax law about three years ago that took the charitable deduction away because it was just part of the larger deduction that just became one big pot of money and so you couldn’t really get much advantage, but now they’ve added back in $300 for individuals and $600. So that’s the kind of thing that will affect most people. If you are in a position to make a large cash gift, it can actually be very advantageous to you to actually be able to make a gift in cash to a specific organization and be able to take full credit against your income for that. But, relatively few people are in that boat where the size of the cash would make that difference, but for some people it could make a difference.

Dan Martel 2:37

Absolutely. All right. So being the head of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, I would imagine this is a pretty busy time for everybody.

Nancy Anthony 2:42

Oh, for sure. We have a lot of people who make year-end gifts of cash or appreciated securities. The reality is, you get the same benefit for a gift in December, as you make a gift in January. So, lots of people sort of wait until they get to the end of the year they look at what their financial situation is and then make the gift at that time. So for us, we know that that’s the case so we prepare for it and we encourage people to think about it.

Dan Martel 3:05

Well now I guess the accounting team that works at the foundation aren’t really thinking about party hats and favors on New Year’s Eve.

Nancy Anthony 3:12

No, you know, we laugh and say we’ll have a drive through if anybody wants us to go out into the parking lot and pick it up.

Dan Martel 3:18

Absolutely. Okay, so when a donor comes to the foundation, decides that he or she would like to make a gift at year-end, what are some of the things that you all discuss with the donor?

Nancy Anthony 3:27

Well, sometimes they’re here because they want to support a specific organization or a specific scholarship fund, or in some cases, the fund they might have established. So, if it’s a donor that’s been here in the past, frequently we talk about what they’ve done. If they have not done anything thing in the past then we talk to them about the whole range of things we do at the foundation, They can either give to funds that they can contribute to other organizations, or they can give to some specific organizations, the endowment funds or the scholarship funds or the special field of interest funds that we have.

Dan Martel 3:53

So it’s kind of like cart blanche, there’s something for everyone. There shouldn’t be any trouble with that.

Nancy Anthony 3:58

There really is something for almost any interest that anybody has.

Dan Martel 4:02

That’s excellent. You know, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been around now for more than 50 years. Through those years, the organization’s continued to see the donor base grow. I know that the leadership here at OCCF, I know you’ve been running the show here for several years, that you’ve helped probably thousands of people with charitable giving here in the community. Why do you suppose the foundation is such a good place to consider when somebody is thinking about giving at the end of the year?

Nancy Anthony 4:28

Well, first of all, they can make a single gift and benefit as many different kinds of things as they want. So, we can take care of many potential uses that they might have. Secondly, I think people know that we’re going to be here and that whatever gift they give will be utilized in the way that they have designated.

Dan Martel 4:45

Alright. Awesome. So, what is your take on charitable giving during the pandemic? Did you see things kind of decrease/increase? Tell me a little bit about how that worked.

Nancy Anthony 4:52

I think giving for needs that were very specific to people was up. I think there was a great sense of helping people who maybe were unemployed or people that had lost the ability to do certain things with their family to make sure that people were taken care of. I think that that kind of giving really went up. I mean, it was very well seen in the news. I think people were very responsive to that. Bigger giving, like to a capital campaign to build a new building or to buy a new piece of equipment might not have been as well received. But I think people were very responsive to what they considered to be basic human needs, especially around health and around social services.

Dan Martel 5:33

One of the things I noticed at the foundation is toward this time of year, you really do see a lot of people in the community come out and put their, what I guess I would consider to be their charitable giving hat on. When it comes to specific types of funds and things like that, is there anything that stands out over the years that you may have seen in terms of a year-end gift that you kind of had a story to tell about that? Is there anything that comes to mind?

Nancy Anthony 5:59

Well, there was always a guy that every year he had a group of people that he send contributions to, but I guarantee if we closed at five o’clock, he would call about 4:45 and say, I’m on the way. The receptionist and I would stay until 5:30 and he would stumble in with his check. It was kind of like clockwork probably for 10 years. This same gentleman would make that same gift and his pattern was always to wait until not only the last minute after the last minute, in many ways, but he was somebody that we had done other things for. So it was always just a great story to be able to tell, but he was going to do it every year. I think people feel that way, that they want to be able to go ahead and make their gift.

Dan Martel 6:41

I think that’s excellent. The foundation works a lot with professional advisors, too. How do you all work with professional advisors and when it comes to effective and efficient opportunities to help folks maximize their charitable giving, tell me the advantages that an advisor would recommend the foundation, perhaps over another institution.

Nancy Anthony 6:59

Well, I think the first would probably be that a single gift or a single transaction can benefit more than one purpose. And so that makes it easy for the advisor to help a client make a single gift and take care of a number of charitable interests. The second thing is we take a lot of non-cash gifts. I mean, we take stock, we take other kinds of marketable securities, and we also take other things that aren’t marketable securities, but we are able to work with donors who have assets that might not be something that you can write a check with. So I think that is oftentimes, especially on the stock side, that can be very advantageous for them. Instead of selling the stock and giving cash, they can give us the stock and avoid probably in many cases, a lot of taxes.

Dan Martel 7:41

Man that’s incredible to know. That’s, that’s outstanding. One thing that I know is fairly new here at the foundation is crypto, cryptocurrency. Tell me a little bit about why you all decided to do that.

Nancy Anthony 7:50

Well, we had some inquiries, would you accept crypto? So we set up an account with an organization that actually accepts cryptocurrency. So they would do it just like they would go to a stock broker and ask them to contribute their stock. Then they would contribute that crypto to this particular crypto-based fund and they would sell the crypto and then send us the cash. So eventually we would get cash because we don’t really handle crypto. It’s it’s beyond many people’s idea.

Dan Martel 8:16


Nancy Anthony 8:17

I couldn’t explain it but we would be happy to have the cash and be able to utilize it for whatever purpose the donor wants.

Dan Martel 8:23

I guess the final thing I was going to ask you here too, is in terms of investment performance and that kind of thing, the community foundation had a pretty good year I’m assuming?

Nancy Anthony 8:30

The year that ended June 30, 2021 was a great year for us. Our total return in that year was more than 25%, which that’s a quarter. That means you increased the value of everything you had by a quarter of what it was, which is a huge return. Now the year before that, because there was a big downswing when crypto (Covid) first happened. We didn’t have anywhere close to that. So between the two years though, it really did turn out pretty well. So we were happy to be able to have taken advantage of the rise in the equity markets at that time. For us really, it was the best year we’ve ever had in the investment side.

Dan Martel 9:05

That’s outstanding. And if there’s anybody out there listening right now, considering a year-end gift to a charitable organization, we would certainly advise you to reach out to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Nancy, what’s the best way for people to reach out?

Nancy Anthony 9:17

Well, we have a website We have a phone number (405) 235-5603, either of those work and we answer the phone with real people.

Dan Martel 9:27

That’s another thing that’s an advantage I think too.

Nancy Anthony 9:29


Dan Martel 9:30

Nancy thanks for being with us again on the pod. I know that you and your team are always on top of any changes and tax codes and how they affect charitable giving. We really appreciate your time. I hope listeners out there take heed and consider giving us a call again or visiting our website, and consider making an impact here in the community. Thanks for being with us.

Nancy Anthony 9:50

Thank you very much.

Dan Martel 9:53

Now we want to bring in Rachel Mouton. Rachel is the manager of GiveSmartOKC here at the Community Foundation. Rachel, welcome to the podcast.

Rachel Mouton 10:01

Thank you.

Dan Martel 10:02

We’ve just been talking to Nancy Anthony, the president of the Community Foundation. We’re talking about year-end giving and the different ways that people can give to the foundation, whether they want to create a legacy for themselves or open up a scholarship or give to a specific fund. There are a lot of different ways to do that. You oversee GiveSmartOKC, tell us a little bit about GiveSmart, how does the platform work and what are some of the things people might need to know when searching for charitable organizations particularly this time of year?

Rachel Mouton 10:33

GiveSmartOKC, kind of in a nutshell, is an online database of charitable organizations here in central Oklahoma. So, if you want to give local, this is a great resource. It allows you the opportunity to really compare the organizations, apples to apples, orange to oranges. They all have their own profile page. Each of the profiles have robust information about the organization, their leadership, their financials, the programs that they have, et cetera.

Now on the platform, we have an interactive map feature. So, donors who are in the community, who want to maybe see a specific geographic location that they want to support, they can do that now with this map feature, that is synced to census data. Then that map has an overlay of those charitable organizations in the community that they can pick and choose from and make a contribution to. Or maybe if they’re wanting to just donate time even they can volunteer with these organizations.

Dan Martel 11:33

So a really, I guess, a cool thing to do is if you are in the market and you do want to leave a big year-end gift or a small year-end gift.

Rachel Mouton 11:40


Dan Martel 11:41

If they went to GiveSmartOKC, looked up, found the organization they’re interested in, it could be a geographical thing. If, let’s say I live on the south side of the city and I have an organization there, they can find that info, correct?

Rachel Mouton 11:53

Absolutely. They can search by an organization’s name. They can put in a filtered topic, such as children and youth, health and safety, human services, animal related causes. They can even use a feature for geography so they can pick down to even the zip code and census track level.

Dan Martel 12:09

That is outstanding. What are some of the things that people might find on the platform that could maybe sway them toward a particular charitable organization when they’re thinking about year-end giving?

Rachel Mouton 12:18

Well, what I really feel is important with the platform, is it gives the donor that sense of transparency. The organizations are providing this information completely free. We work with them every month to make sure that their profiles stay up to date. It’s really helping those donors see kind of that transparency with the organization. What they are doing. Maybe there’s been changes in their programming with COVID going on. They’re able to see that on the organization’s website.

Dan Martel 12:48

So, if a particular donor, again, wants to visit, GiveSmartOKC, what’s the URL that they need to go to. If they have questions, can they call somebody like you here at the foundation?

Rachel Mouton 13:01

Absolutely. Yes. So if they go to that goes directly to the platform, they can take a brief tutorial or they can end that tour and just start searching. They can also reach out directly to me. They can use my direct email [email protected] or [email protected]. My direct line is (405) 606-2918. I welcome the opportunity to talk you through over the phone, do a virtual tour, anything.

Dan Martel 13:42

Well, I’ve gone on and gone through it. It’s really not a difficult platform to navigate at all. I mean, it does kind of spell out the organizations that are listed. How many organizations are there now?

Rachel Mouton 13:53

So there are right at 350 organizations within an 11 county geographical region.

Dan Martel 13:59

If an organization is out there, if you’re a charitable organization and you’re not on the GiveSmart platform, what’s the best way for them to get on it?

Rachel Mouton 14:09

Yeah. The best way you can either reach out to me, or you can still go to There’s an option to add ‘my nonprofit.’ You fill out a short form and then our team here at the Community Foundation will get back in touch with you as quickly as possible to get you going on the platform.

Dan Martel 14:26

Outstanding. Well, Rachel, thanks for being with us on the podcast today. We do appreciate you.

Rachel Mouton 14:30

Thank you for having me.

Dan Martel 14:32

Happy holidays.

Rachel Mouton 14:33

Happy Holidays.

Dan Martel 14:34

That about wraps it up for today. I’d like to thank our guest Nancy Anthony president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Rachel Mouton, who is the director of our GiveSmartOKC platform here at the foundation as well. Join us next month for another timely topic. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you again in the new year. In the meantime, I’m Dan Martel, I look forward to having you join us again on Creating Impact Through Giving.

Episode 10 Transcript: Ready? Set. Keep Moving, OKC!

Episode 10: Ready? Set. Keep Moving, OKC!

Dan Martel: You’re listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast, brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, providing you with the stories, techniques, and tools around impactful giving. On this show we’ll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders, and our own team of experts to identify charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.

Hello, again, I’m Dan Martel and I’m so glad you are joining me on Creating Impact Through Giving. You know, everybody’s been cooped up over the last year because of COVID and like a lot of folks they’ve had limited amount of activity to be able to engage it. So with all the vaccines rolling out through central Oklahoma, and a lot of people are feeling the itch to get out there and get some exercise. We’re going to revisit the Keep Moving OKC Wellness initiative brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. is a wellness initiative that launched this past week here in the central Oklahoma area. This is a website that houses a multiple of organizations, clubs, groups of all types, encouraging people to get out there and get moving. I also want to add that the Keep website is one of a kind, not only here in Oklahoma, but across the country. It’s a very unique platform.

We actually spoke about the initiative on an earlier podcast, but today we’re going to dive in a little deeper and talk to Kelley Barnes, who is the vice president of programs with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and overseas, Keep Moving OKC and Leah Philpott, who is an actress, a Canadian actress I might add. So she’s been around the world and she was chosen as the spokesperson for Keep Moving OKC. I want to welcome both of you to the podcast. Thanks for being with us.

Kelley Barnes: Thanks Dan.

Leah Philpott: Thanks for having us.

Dan: So Kelley, I’m going to start with you. The last time we had actually gone in and talked a little bit about this initiative we were just kind of in the process of getting this website kicked off and at this point we’re getting ready to launch the campaign. So my understanding is, this campaign has just launched what type of activities can people find on the website, which is More importantly, can you tell us a little bit of the history behind this initiative?

Kelley: Sure. So Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been involved in the wellness area for a number of years now. just in the last couple of years, we really pivoted to having more of a communication approach to the greater Oklahoma city area, to encourage them to find fun things in the community, find free and low cost things in the community to help them get up and moving. We were doing some work actually with an arts organization, Allied Arts, who has an arts online calendar We thought, wow, what an resource? I wonder if we could do that with physical fitness activities. We contacted our top list, who is the technology provider. They thought that that was a really interesting notion and said, well, yes, of course we can do that for physical fitness activities. So was born.

Again, this is really a communication and marketing effort to encourage everyone in the community to get up and moving and to find something that they like. There is everything from ice skating to kayaking, to belly dancing. There is just a number actually 200 to be exact that people can choose from currently on the website and we’re adding some every day.

Dan: Now, Kelley, my understanding too, is that a lot of these activities that are on this website are free or very low cost. So I mean, that’s also good news for a lot of people in the community where they can find things that they don’t have to pay a lot of money to go and do, is that correct?

Kelley: Absolutely. It’s about accessibility and we wanted this to be accessible for anyone who wants to participate. So that was really a priority in putting activities on the website is that they are free or low cost.

Dan: So if there’s a person out in our community, that’s listening right now too especially our listeners. If you’re interested in, let’s say bike riding, I want to join a bike club of some sort, what would I need to do to find something like that?

Kelley: Sure so log on to there’s a tool bar where you can do different searches. Of course you can even search in a different language. If you’re Spanish speaking, you can choose that from the tool bar and it’ll convert the whole website into Spanish. You can search for anything you can search by geography if for something close to you, or if you’re interested in soccer, you can type in soccer and all the different soccer resources will come up or is if it’s specific to children, you can go under the children tab. It’s such an easy website to navigate and really intuitive for the users.

Dan: You know, it’s funny, as we were kind of going through this whole launch here, what I find really unique and special about this particular website is it’s really almost a, one of a kind type of a deal. There’s not very many of these across the country, let alone right here in Oklahoma, correct?

Kelley: Correct. We think that we might be the only one in the nation when we contacted the technology provider, they really thought that it could be a national model for them to roll out and for other communities to use. So I think that hopefully they will see Oklahoma city as number one in doing this and maybe we’ll get some copycats out there which would be great.

Dan: That would be terrific too. So Leah, I want to kind of pivot over to you and chat a little bit about this role that you play in this particular campaign. So you’re an actress and I know you’ve done a lot of movies and television series work and things like that. You’re located here in Oklahoma city now, is that correct?

Leah: That’s right. Yeah.

Dan: So how did you get involved and how did you become the spokesperson for this Keep Moving OKC initiative?

Leah: What interested me the most right out the gate about Keep Moving was the fact that in my regular life, it’s something I kind of did already. I really feel strongly about health and wellness and around my loved ones and my friends, I always kind of slip in a little encouraging, you know, just a little nudge about getting out and getting moving, or getting involved in activities that don’t seem like working ou. because that’s really important to me. I’m not a gym rat by any means. But I am a dancer. That was what first brought me to entertainment and any time in my life that I’ve gotten away from dance, I haven’t felt as well. It’s just really important to keep moving. So when I’m out in real life doing all of this and mentioning how important it is, then I see this opportunity to do that in a bigger role in an actual spokesperson role where I can reach a greater audience, then I just jumped on that as quick as I could.

Dan: I think that’s outstanding. So, you know, one of the things I’ve noticed, I looked at all the commercials that are out and you mentioned dance. Obviously I saw one of the ads where you actually got to do a little belly dancing…

Leah: That’s right.

Dan: In the commercial, which is kind of cool. So one thing I noticed in all of those ads, it looks like you’re having a lot of fun. More importantly, it looks like it’s the kind of thing where you’re encouraging anybody out there in the community to participate. You don’t have to be an expert to do anything regarding any of these physical activities. Is that right?

Leah: Absolutely. Yeah. So one of the big parts of the initiative is to reach the biggest audience as possible because health and wellness is important to those of all ages. We don’t want to just cater to children or to elderly or disabled. We want to include everybody. So whether you are 6 years old or you’re 96 years old, there will be something on the website that you can find that will interest you, that will encourage you to get up off your couch and get out and keep moving.

Dan: Were you surprised at all the different things that were out there in central Oklahoma in terms of the type of activities that people could find and explore?

Leah: Absolutely. Even prior to filming, just to, you know, start learning about the role that I was taking on, I was going through the website and was kind of in awe because as someone who does love these types of activities, I had no idea that they were available and that plentyfull in this area. You know, home in Canada, I was involved in a lot of clubs and whatnot. So you hear when you are in groups and activities of other groups and activities. Here, being someone new to town, it’s hard to hear about things like that if you’re not in school anymore. this website just kind of opened my eyes to just the rich culture of fitness that is in Oklahoma, which isn’t necessarily the first thing that we see when we think of Oklahoma, but maybe this will start to change that.

Dan: Anyone in particular come as a surprise that you discovered?

Leah: Well you know, I had been in a kayak once before, but it was on the ocean in Mexico and it didn’t work out in my favor. I hadn’t really thought that that was something I could go do on any given day. I thought I’d have to be part of an elite club or something and being down at Riversport to film that commercial was one of the highlights of the experience for me.

Dan: Oh I’m sure.

Leah: It was a beautiful day and I was out on the water.

Dan: Did you end up in the water?

Leah: Oh yeah, yeah. I ended up in the water.

Kelley: You were acting though of course.

Leah: We all want to encourage those of all experience levels to get out and get moving.

Dan: Absolutely.

Leah: So, as you can see in the commercials, I’m not expert at these things and I want everyone else to feel comfortable coming out and trying these things too, even if it’s the first time.

Dan: And I think that’s, that’s the important message that we’re trying to get out there is to encourage people, whether you want to try or you’ve thought about trying something, whether it’s kayaking down a river or ice skating in a local ice skating rink, which by the way you being from Canada, I figured that might’ve been a no brainer, but you had to act like you weren’t really a pro at skating until we saw the real Leah who was actually skating all over that rink like a pro. Tell us a little bit about your background as far as skating.

Leah: Well, my father was actually a hockey player.

Dan: Okay.

Leah: A fairly well-known hockey player. He was drafted to the Toronto Maple Leaves before I was around. He actually turned down the offer and became an RCP Officer, a Canadian Mountie. But skating is definitely in my genes. My brother was a good skater as well. One of my father’s favorite stories to tell actually, is when I was, I think, four, maybe not quite five. We were living in Ottawa, Ontario at the time, and there’s the Rideau Canal there, a very long canal. In winter it’s frozen over and it’s an attraction for families to go skating. He took me up the ice one way, holding my hand and on the way back he let go and I skated ahead of him the whole time.

Dan: Nice.

Leah: That’s his favorite story to tell.

Dan: Absolutely.

Leah: So skating’s definitely in my genes, but when you put me on the ice there a few months ago, that was the first time in a long time. So it was fun.

Dan: I’m glad you got to kind of brush off some of those skills and bring them forth so everybody in central Oklahoma could check it out. Yeah. Kelley.

Kelley: I just want to say give props to Christie Burke-Steinberg, who is the manager of Keep Moving OKC. She came on board with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation a year ago when we decided to commit resources full time. I’m standing in for her today because she had another phone call. We are getting lots of positive feedback from all the ads and from Leah and all the great communications that we’ve had.

Dan: I was going to ask you about that too, Kelley. I know Christie’s been signing up all kinds of different groups out there in the community to jump on board and become part of the website. Since the campaign launched, what kind of response have you been getting from the public so far? Have you seen any activity at this point?

Kelley: It’s been really positive. I mean, yesterday we had the Midtown district representative come by the office. She was walking her neighborhood and of course we’re adjacent to Midtown kind of right buttressed up against that neighborhood. She saw the banner and Leah out on the front of the building and came in to see what that was all about. I mean, we’ve just gotten lots of calls and people wanting to put their activities on the website. Lots of Facebook activity. It’s been terrific. The response has been really positive.

Dan: I think that is fantastic. Leah, I wanted to jump in real quick with you too. So as the spokesperson now, you know, we talked a lot about you being in this whole television campaign, what else are you having to do to help promote this particular launch and this particular campaign? What else have you been out there doing?

Speaker 3: Well, coming up, there will be a few events that are geared towards kids. Some kids fests will be in parks and I will be there to encourage the little ones to get moving and keep moving. So that’s coming up in May and you know, hopefully as this thing starts moving forward, there’ll be a lot more of those types of appearances, maybe for some of the older kids too.

Dan: Excellent.

Leah: Yeah.

Dan: That’s great. Well, you’re listening today to Kelley Barnes, the vice president of programs with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and Leah Philpott who is the spokesperson for the Keep Moving OKC initiative. if you’re listening right now, I want you to go to, find an activity for you to get out there. I know you guys have been cooped up for a long time. It’s time to get out, go have some fun. I want to thank our guests today, Leah Philpott and Kelley Barnes for being with us.

Kelley: Thank you.

Leah: Thank you. Get out and keep moving guys.

Kelley: Keep moving.

Dan: Thanks for listening in today. It’s hard to believe this has been our 10th episode for Creating Impact Through Giving. I want to tell you that I have been thrilled and we’ve been thrilled here to have you all listen in every month. Until next time I’m Dan Martel. I look forward to having you all tuned in again on Creating Impact Through Giving.

Episode 9 Transcript: Putting Goals within Reach

Episode 9: Putting Goals within Reach

Dan: You’re listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, providing you with the stories, techniques, and tools around impactful giving. On this show, we’ll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders, and our own team of experts to identify charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.
Hello, I’m Dan Martel, and I’m glad you’re joining me again on Creating Impact Through Giving. Well, it’s scholarship season here at the community foundation. That means up to two and a half million dollars are up for grabs for students all across Oklahoma. Do you want to become an architect or orchestra musician, or perhaps you want to become a nurse? Well, we’ve got you covered. As a matter of fact, we have more than 800 different types of scholarships that are sitting in our system waiting to be claimed.
Back on episode two of our podcasts, we talked all about the process of establishing a scholarship for donors, but today we want to learn exactly what you, the students, and maybe some of your parents need to do to have the best chances of becoming one of our award recipients. Later in the pod, stay with us for a deep dive into one particular scholarship opportunity, our Oklahoma Youth with Promise Scholarship for students in the foster care system.
But first let’s get all the answers and tips on the perfect scholarship application from Jessica Schwager, our director of scholarship programs. Well, Jess, welcome back to the podcast.

Jessica: Thanks for having me.

Dan: It’s been a wild year for everybody, especially those that work in admissions and higher education. But before we jump into the application Q&A I want to ask you what your team has done to shift their outreach strategies and their communications with students.

Jessica: Well, to be a hundred percent honest this year has really been a struggle with trying to get applications. We are down from last year with our application numbers, but we’re kind of seeing that across the board when it comes to higher education. I know there were some numbers that came out a few weeks ago that the students who graduated in spring of 2020, there was a 22% drop off from those students graduating from high school and the 22% of the students that would have typically matriculated into college just didn’t this last year.

Dan: So, Jess, you’d mentioned, this is all over. This isn’t just Oklahoma.

Jessica: All over, yes. All over the United States, a 22% drop off.

Dan: Would you attribute a lot of that to COVID?

Jessica: I think so, and I think that that’s what they’re kind of attributing this to. I think the uncertainty of not knowing if classes will be in person or online I think a lot of students ended up taking a gap year maybe, or gap years and they’re trying to figure out what to do. But when it comes to our own application numbers, I mean, I think that if students are uncertain whether or not they’re going to go to college they might not be inclined to apply for scholarships, or they might not be thinking about that right now.
So we’ve had to really get creative with our communication outreach out to students, because typically this time of year, we’re going out to schools and helping students apply for scholarships, but we’re not really able to do that this year. So we’ve been trying to do more Zoom sessions. I know Rick in our office has been connecting with counselors even more and trying to offer them some one-on-one support to get more students in our application system. Then we’ve been doing some kind of unique advertising this year. We did radio advertisements across the state of Oklahoma, and we’ve been on the radio in the mornings. We’re really just trying to plug social media; as many touches as we can get out there for all of our students to apply.

Dan: Yeah. Yeah. So even though a lot has changed, some things are still the same, in that we’re still gonna award millions of dollars to students across Oklahoma, right?

Jessica: Right. Correct. Yeah.

Dan: Some of these awards will go unclaimed. Is that a fact too?

Jessica: I mean, it could be, that’s probably the one motivating factor for students to apply because if we don’t receive applications for a certain scholarship, then we just won’t award it. So there’s money out there. Students need to apply for it.

Dan: Well, I hope that if they’re listening right now that they’re going to go to OCCF and look up what scholarship pertains to them because you’re right, there’s going to be a lot out there. Let’s start with some questions. So what do I need to collect to apply?

Jessica: So I would recommend the first thing students do is go to our website, That’s a great starting location because that lists out everything they need to do to prepare. But the most important thing on that website, I think is there’s a how-to-apply video. If students look at that, they can kind of just gear up for what they need to do.
So things that they might need they might need to collect kind of some resume information. Start on a resume, a FAFSA, free application for federal student aid, get that collected. We need transcripts, we need letters of recommendation. A lot of the questions we’re asking on our application are pretty similar to college admissions applications. So some of the essay questions about their career and why they’re choosing their majors and things like that. So they might just make sure that they have some of that information just kind of prepared as well.

Dan: This is all done online, correct?

Jessica: Everything is online.

Dan: Okay.

Jessica: A hundred percent.

Dan: All right. When are the deadlines and how can students make sure that they stay in the loop?

Jessica: Yeah, well, our deadlines have actually already started. Our very first deadline is actually in December, but our very first big deadline was February 1st. Really the deadlines are kind of rolling throughout the spring semester. I would recommend that students get in the application system right now because the majority of our deadlines are actually March 1st. So that’s only a few weeks away. So it’s really important to get into the system now because a lot of students, I’d say, don’t even think about how they’re going to pay for college until after they graduate high school. By the time they graduated it’s way too late to apply for a scholarship.

Dan: So when do they really start? At what age and at what grade do they really need to start jumping into look at scholarships?

Jessica: When I talk to students, I encourage them, and their parents too, to kind of get high school juniors thinking about it at least. Then anytime I talk to a high school junior, I tell them to open up their phone and on their calendar, put an event date on their calendar for October 1st of their senior year. So October 1st of their senior year is typically when a lot of scholarship applications start opening, including the ones at OCCF.

Dan: You know, there seems to be a common misconception out there about scholarships. You know, everybody thinks, well, I have to have a 4.0 grade point average to apply. That’s not really the case. So how are the scholarships awarded?

Jessica: That’s a great question. We consider various factors. So we are looking possibly at GPA; if that’s something that’s important to that particular scholarship. We’re looking at leadership, community service, work activities, we’re really looking at the student as a whole, like their entire application. So it’s not just one thing. It’s not just a high ACT. It’s not just a high GPA. We’re looking kind of at the holistic view of the student’s application.

Dan: Okay. So if there’s a student in school that is well-rounded, very involved in the community, involved in their school, but they don’t have a 4.0 they’re certainly urged to apply, correct?

Jessica: Absolutely, yes. In fact, a lot of our scholarships start with…the minimum GPA requirement is typically either a 2.75 or a 3.0, so that’s an A, B sometimes C student. So I would encourage students not to select themselves out of the running just because of their GPA.

Dan: I hope everybody understands that. That’s good to know because that’s a real common misnomer out there that people just don’t realize that, gosh, just because I don’t have a 4.0 means that I can’t get a scholarship, which is not the case.

Jessica: Yeah, absolutely.

Dan: Well, once they apply, once everybody’s on there, they have their information loaded up. What do you do to select the recipients? What’s the, how does that work?

Jessica: Yes. So all of our applications are collected. We really work with students. So if there are missing materials or say a student accidentally forgot something, we typically work with a student to get that information in the system. Once that’s all done, then we have this awesome group of reviewers who they’re, people who work OCCF. They’re people in the community that volunteer to read applications. We work with them on different rubrics and different ways to score the applications. So we have about 50 people that are a part of this big review process. So it goes to the review process and at that point in time, it’s the student who has kind of the highest score and meets the criteria are awarded the scholarship.

Dan: I am curious to know if we didn’t have COVID, if this were a normal school year and we give out 800, would you say more than 800?

Jessica: Right around 800.

Dan: How many applications would you normally receive in a, what we would consider to be a normal year?

Jessica: That’s a good question. It’s interesting because some of our application numbers are actually up over last year. The OG&E has a scholarship, and they actually got a hundred more applications this year than they did last year. So that’s one thing. Then we have other scholarships that might normally get 50 applications. This year, well, actually there was one I looked at today that last year around this time had about 90 applications and they only have 16. So there’s really a difference.So what I’m doing right now is kind of working with people who help administer those scholarships, the donors, and saying, Hey, can we just extend the deadlines a bit? Students might, this might be too early right now. Let’s extend the deadlines a little bit and see if we can’t give students a little more time to get in the system.

Dan: Yeah and it sounds like parents and students alike are really looking to see what’s going to happen with this doggone COVID.

Jessica: I know. I know.

Dan: Okay. So if I’m a student, what are my chances?

Jessica: Oh, that’s a great question. I mean, while I can’t necessarily predict the chances a student can receive the scholarship, the best chance a student could get a scholarship is to apply and make sure everything’s completed. So it really depends on how many students also applied. It depends on how big the pool is, how much money we have to give away out of a certain scholarship. So all those factors play in, but as long as the student’s application is complete, they meet the eligibility requirements, then they’ll be considered for that scholarship and that’s as good a chance as they can get, I would say.

Dan: I want to remind our listeners too, that the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is the state’s largest independent scholarship awarder, right?

Jessica: Correct.

Dan: They award the most scholarships than anybody else. That’s good to know, too. Okay. So let’s say that I’m a student, I’ve been awarded a scholarship. Yay. Then what happens after that?

Jessica: Then we get to do the fun part of notifying the students, which is exciting. Some people I would say like, OG&E, Bank of Oklahoma, they do big awards presentations, and it’s so much fun. What we do though, as an office, we send out award packets to the students. So these award packets will have an award letter in there and will give them the details of how they can actually receive their scholarship. There are a few steps they have to take to actually get the scholarship. This year because of COVID, we just kind of did double duty. So we made sure we sent a packet to the student, but then also sent follow-up emails as well. So I would just have students make sure they’re checking their mail, checking their email for those award notifications.

Dan: Excellent. All right. What do you think, any last-minute important things that we need to remember here?

Jessica: I would just encourage students to get in the system now, don’t wait. If any juniors are listening to this, I would say to, again, set an alarm or a calendar invite for October 1st of their senior year and apply early. Like I said, I think a lot of students think that scholarship applications close a lot later than they do and that’s just not the case. We’re coming up on our major deadline, which is March 1st here this spring. So I would just say, be aware of the deadlines, set reminders to apply, and just make sure to read all instructions on the application and make sure the applications are complete.
If students have any questions about if their materials are submitted correctly, or if they have any questions about really anything at all, the completeness of their application, they can always reach out to us. Our email address is probably the best way. It’s just [email protected] and we can check over their applications for them.

Dan: Well, all of you guys that are looking to earn a scholarship, it’s time to apply now, especially if you’re a junior. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation, again, the largest independent scholarship giver in the state two and a half million dollars’ worth to more than 800. So if you’re one of 800 listening, we hope, then you’ve done a great job. So check it out and thanks so much for returning to the pod to share all of your best practices with us, Jess.

Jessica: Thank you so much, Dan.

Dan: If you’ve turned on the TV over the last couple of days you may have heard the story of a very special young man. One of our scholarship recipients, Savien Johnson. Savien was only 13 when he had to leave his childhood home and was placed with a foster family. At the time, Savien already knew he wanted to make it to college, but he really didn’t have any idea on how he would get there. So let’s hear from Savien about what that was like.

Savien: I was 13, almost 14 years old. I believe it was in October of 2014. I was just going through a lot of verbal and physical abuse in my household and things were just kind of rocky all the time. There was never really consistency with like peace and structure in my house. So I got admitted into the system.
I didn’t really know what was going on. Everything was moving pretty fast. It was my first time in the system. I had a friend in high school whose parents were foster parents and that was who I was with at the time. I was kind of confused and nervous because everything was just happening so fast. I just wanted everything to go back to normal. High school for me was great to be honest. I played sports and I was involved in a lot of student organizations, and I have a lot of relationships that I built with my teachers and friends that still affect my life today.
I thought that I was smart enough at the time to go to college and get into college. I had knowledge of like scholarships and things. So I knew that that would be an option for me after school, but with the things that were going on, like the foster care system and just in my life, I wasn’t sure that I would have the opportunity to go.

Dan: I am now with Wanda Minter scholarship coordinator at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and also probably one of our longest-serving employees. Is that right, Wanda?

Wanda: Yes, I will be here 23 years in December.

Dan: Well, congratulations. That is quite a distinction. But more importantly, you know, all about these students and, and what it takes for some of them to dare to dream about going to college one day. You’ve been part of the team that works to administer the Oklahoma Youth with Promise Scholarships every year. These students are students that have recently aged out of the foster care program or who are currently in the program is that correct?

Wanda: That is correct.

Dan: Hearing stories like Savien’s it really does hit home as to why it’s so important to lower these barriers of entry into higher education, especially for populations that have had it harder than others. First Gen kids, non-traditional students, students with uncommon career choices, we have scholarships for pretty much all of these groups, but for now, let’s focus on Oklahoma Youth with Promise. How did this program come about?

Wanda: It was established in 1988. When it first came about, it was named the Kids with Promise Plaza Scholarship Foundation. It was founded by Dick Coylr, Carolyn Barry and their families, and owners of the Nichols Hills Plaza Shopping Center. But in 1996, they renamed the scholarship The Oklahoma Youth with Promise Scholarship Fund. It was established for students that were in foster care or that had aged out of foster care. They wanted it geared toward these students because we know that these students have lived a different form of life where things are not just accessible to them in an easier fashion, if that makes sense. So we accept students that have been in the foster care system or that are in group homes. So that is basically where that came about; wanting to manage a scholarship for these students who did not have that financial stability from living in a traditional home.

Dan: Man that is….who knows how many foster kids are out there that probably think to themselves, well, heck I’d like to go to college but I have no idea how I will ever get there.

Wanda: It is amazing how many students that we do come across that really feel like that they don’t have a chance at college. With this particular scholarship, they have to maintain a GPA of a 2.0 in high school and in college. Basically, we don’t turn down any students after we have figured out that they have been in the foster care system.

Dan: That’s really good to know. Well, how do you work with students and DHS counselors throughout the process? How does that work?

Wanda: Well, once you build a relationship with these students, which is one of the most awesome things for me, you build a relationship, and once that relationship is built, especially after they have aged out of the foster care system because once they’ve aged out, they have very little contact with their ETV specialist. Some of them still have contact, but most of them really literally don’t have contact. So once you’ve established contact with that student, then they will eventually come back to you for many of our scholarships.

Dan: What’s the impact of the scholarship been like on students that you’ve met that have received this particular scholarship?

Wanda: These young people are just so amazed that there is a scholarship that is just built for them. Most of them that do go to school, once they graduate from college or have some type of college experience, whether it’s vocational, a four-year college or two-year college, they want to go back and they want to help their community.

Dan: Well, you know it’s funny, when we were talking to Savien, one of the things that he mentioned, he’s kinda got a plan. He’s got a major selected that he’s picked out. The big thing that I was so impressed with, he said, when I get out of college, I want to join the air force and serve my country.

Savien: After I graduate, I would like to join the air force as an officer and get a job either in the medical field or in communications and serve my country. Nowadays I’m able to use that as motivation to like help myself pursue my goals. I look back and I think, man, I came far. It really helped me pursue my goals in school and everything. Number one, it helped financially. I was able to continue to pursue my goals in school without putting a strain on myself while working. It also helped me because I understand that there’s a lot of people that are in my corner.

Wanda: That is awesome. That’s what these kids really want to do. They have a close family, even if they’re not the traditional family.

Dan: I want to talk a little bit about some of the things that you want to leave the kids that might be listening to this podcast. What should they be doing at this point?

Wanda: If they have any questions at all, feel free to call me at any time. We will walk them through that process. This is one of those scholarships that we just don’t drop it in their lap and say, we’re done. We do none of our scholarships like that, but this is one of those scholarships that we kind of just kind of take them by hand and help them along the way. No question is a dumb question or a stupid question. Every question is legitimate. So we will walk them through that process. We will make sure that they get that transcript or they get that financial aid report and that they are making that GPA of a 2.0 throughout their college. One of the good things about this particular scholarship is that it actually goes up until the age of 25.

Dan: This is a pretty good scholarship. Can you tell us what this is worth?

Wanda: Once they come in as a freshman, it is a $3,000 award. Once they exceed 60 hours toward that undergrad degree, then there is an enhancement there. We work really closely with their ETV specialist to make sure that they’re on the right path and that they are making academic progress and that scholarship will exceed to a $5,000 award.

Dan: Wow, $3,000 – $5,000 a year. That is very impressive. What’s a good way to reach you if you’re a parent, a counselor, or a student that wants to talk to you, Wanda? How do they get in touch with you?

Wanda: You can always email me, and they can email me at, or they can always call me at (405)606-2907.
Dan: All right. That’s Wanda Minter (405) 606-2907. If you have a question about the Oklahoma Youth with Promise Scholarship, Wanda Minter your point of contact here at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. We hope you’ll give her a call or send her an email at Thank you so much for talking to us about this amazing program today, Wanda.

Wanda: Thank you.

Dan: If you want to listen to Savien’s full story, head over to or visit the Oklahoma City Community Foundation YouTube page. And students if you’re still here, thank you for sticking with us. But really though, what are you doing? Head over to and apply right now. You can be auto-matched to more than 800 opportunities before you head to bed tonight and could spend your next semester on campus or virtually with a lot more time studying and less worrying. That’s it again for me, I’m Dan Martell and I’ll see you next time on Creating Impact Through Giving.

Episode 8 Transcript: Turning Donors Into Philanthropists

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 8: Turning Donors Into Philanthropists

I’m Dan Martel. And welcome back to the pod. We hope you were able to start this year with good intentions, found some time to relax and recharge, and are excited to explore more topics in the realm of charitable giving with us. In our very first episode, now it’s been several months, we explored how people could discover their charitable passions and turn them into a legacy either by contributing to a fund, starting a scholarship or sustaining a nonprofit or cause in the community. So today we’re going to take a closer look at exactly how that process works and the actual evolution of a charitable gift.

What happens when donors come to us with a donation, but no initial idea on how to develop that legacy? And why should you speak to someone in our donor services team first, before dropping off your check at a nonprofit or an investment firm? We’ll dive into that and some interesting case studies with Laura Moon, Donor Services Manager here at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, who works closely with donors to maximize their impact. We’ll talk to her about what happens after the first conversation and how the Community Foundation works to execute those plans. And later stay tuned for our conversation with a donor who has done exactly that and grown his family’s fund into a multi-year grant program. But first, let’s chat with Laura about the process that ensures donors get to consider all the options available to them. Welcome, Laura.

Laura Moon: Thank you.

Dan: So you work with donors directly on a daily basis.

Laura: Yeah.

Dan: I know you hear from them directly about the thoughts and visions that they have for their charitable gift, but not all of them come to you with a concrete plan of action, so to speak. Would that be correct to say too?

Laura: Definitely, like any decision, it’s different based on the donor.

Dan: Well I know that because you’re in such close contact with these folks and they’re so valuable here to the foundation, how do you guide that conversation? What is it that you’re trying to communicate in that process?

Laura: Well, it depends some donors come in with a more concrete plan. Maybe they know that they’re coming to us for the convenience or the investment options. Other times a donor knows that they care about their community and that they need more information. So as a member of the donor services team, it’s my job to take my experience working in the non-profit field for many years. And then also just my experience at the foundation, knowing what we do and how we do it and pairing those together with what the donor thinks they want and trying to find what suits them best. So sometimes that’s a long conversation with lots of conversations with nonprofits, other community members, stakeholders that aren’t the donor. Sometimes it’s a very short conversation because they have more information and they kind of guide us. Sometimes we kind of guide them.

Dan: So what I’m hearing you say then Laura, is you’ve had folks that have come in and said, Hey, I want to do something. I really don’t know what I want to do. This is sort of my passion.

Laura: Yeah, yeah. Sometimes it’s the arts, I love the arts. Sometimes it’s very specific, you know, sometimes it’s, I love the arts, but I love orchestra, and I love string instruments. Other times it’s, I care about children generally and if that’s helping them with education, if that’s helping them with food availability, if that’s helping them with access to arts. We’re really happy to work with each donor individually and really cater to what they tell us they want. I mean, their passions are our work.

Dan: I think that’s probably the best way I’ve ever heard it put, their passions are our work. Talk to me a little bit more about the idea of turning donors into philanthropists. You know, that word gets thrown out every now and then, you know, he’s a philanthropist.

Laura: Well, the way that I think about it more broadly, is that when you have someone who has the opportunity to impact their community, but they don’t feel invested in the community it’s hard for that donor to feel like a philanthropist. But if you have a donor who knows about the community, lives in the community it’s much easier for them to become invested and be that philanthropist once they start to see the change that they make because they live where they’re making that change. It’s easier for them to become more invested and make that transition from just maybe a one-time donor or occasional donor to someone who’s really trying to impact the area that they live in. It’s not always a short journey but it doesn’t have to be.

Dan: I understand. And I’m sure that, you know, in the years of your experience here at the foundation and your background too, you’ve probably heard all kinds of interesting stories that have come across your desk.

Laura: Definitely.

Dan: So what kind of expertise can we offer in addition to the different investment in fund types?

Laura: So, I mean, obviously we have the investment and the convenience of a donor-advised fund or any other type of fund, but also our staff expertise, my colleague, Jennifer Stewart has, you know, worked here for 20 years. My colleague Joe has worked here for, you know, nearly 20 years as well. I come from a strictly non-profit background. I worked at program nonprofits. I worked in the Oklahoma City community. So we have knowledge based on the experience that we have here at this job, but then also at other jobs where we had our hands in it and we knew what was going on. Because of that, we have numerous conversations with over 300 nonprofits in the Oklahoma City community as our profession. I mean, a donor, oftentimes their day-to-day job isn’t talking to 300 nonprofits about, what are you doing? Why is it important? What type of impact are you making? And how can we make that easier for you? We can compile it for a donor and we can deliver it to them succinctly so that the donor can make a better decision about how they’re gifting. So we’re able to provide that because we’re here, we live here. Fidelity, they’re wonderful, they just don’t live here and they don’t have the, not just the institutional knowledge from working at a nonprofit, but also the community knowledge.

Dan: I want to stay on that just for a second because you just mentioned that and I think that brings up a good point too. The difference between the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and let’s say an investment firm, like a Fidelity or Schwab or something like that.

Laura: Yeah. My donors know they can call Laura Moon and have a 20-minute conversation about why they care about dogs and where they can help their dogs. And I can tell them about my foster dog and it’s that personal connection.

Dan: Right.

Laura: It’s not just an [email protected] email that you’re sending something to, it’s a person that you can talk to, you can see face to face, you can call, you can email, and we’re here.

Dan: Personal communication, I think is obviously found here at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Laura: Yeah. And I’m more personally invested in the contributions that those philanthropists are making in our community because it’s our community. I mean, of course, the nation at large is also our community, but like I know the coffee shop across the street that, you know, the donor also goes to, I run into them. We live in the same space and that’s, what’s so important about having a relationship with the Community Foundation in a community that you live in.

Dan: In some cases that initial conversation evolves into something bigger, a vision to impact a cause or population with more than just a donation or even larger than a single donor or fund. We already talked about some other examples of donor gifts that transformed into bigger initiatives. In Episode 5, as you recall, we explored the origins of the Margaret Annis Boys Trust, which has now evolved into our Parks and Public Space Initiative and takes care of all kinds of beautification projects around the city. We also have the Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation, which focuses on grants and scholarships to rural communities. We briefly touched on the Carolyn Watson Opportunity Scholarship awarded by the foundation back in Episode 2 and even got a chance to talk to some recipients. So go check out Episode 2 if you’ve missed it. And just as a side note, that program also has a grant opportunity toward the end of this month. Namely our community grants for arts, culture, and literacy projects in rural communities with a population of less than 6,000. To learn more about that checkout, Laura, I want to get back to you. So let’s talk more about the conversations that have sparked a bigger philanthropic project. So do you have any recent examples that you can talk about?

Laura: Actually, it’s kind of funny you say that. There is a donor couple that I have the opportunity and I’m fortunate enough to be able to work with who had heard about some fire department close to the town they live in that was doing some sort of coat drive for kids and they thought that was really interesting. They wanted to contribute in a way, but they didn’t know what the best way to do it was. After I was able to, you know, get a little bit of information from the fire department and figure out what’s going on, that program had concluded, but they were able to get me in contact with some of the public schools and the district at large and about seven different schools. I was able to talk to all those schools, gather information about their own coat and backpack programs, and glasses programs to help kids who didn’t have that available to them. So once I got that information to the donor, they decided that they wanted to fund every single one of those accounts at every single one of those schools, because it was important to them. And it was that one, you know, maybe it was a news clipping or something they had heard through word of mouth in their community that inspired them to make a larger change for smaller communities around their community. And it’s watching those ideas blossom into action, which is the most fun part of my job.

Dan: Absolutely. And you know, the reason that we’re doing this podcast for our listeners is that we want people that drive by our building on a daily basis to know exactly what we do here at the Community Foundation. I want to know what happens after, you know, when a donor passes, tell me a little bit about how OCCF steps in to help carry that torch.

Laura: Well, sometimes when a donor passes, we have this wealth of knowledge based on those conversations that I was telling you about. The phone calls, the emails, the in-person meetings, and then also the fund documents. So we have this wealth of information about what was important to that donor, why it was important to that donor. And then also sometimes, you know, if someone was more a type A, how they want this carried out, very at A to Z. So we’ll take all of that information and then apply it to whichever you know, geographic area or area of interest that was important to them. And we’ll use our expertise to determine based on applicants that, you know, apply to a fund to receive grant monies, how best to enact that vision that the donor had. Like anything sometimes it’s really straightforward and the donor says, I want to give specifically to this one organization for this one particular program. Or other times it’s, I care about the arts generally. And I care about the arts in Oklahoma City make that happen. You know, sometimes it’ll be something happening in the arts district or it’ll be a festival that is an annual event.

Dan: Right.

Laura: But like anything, it’s really based on that individual and their passions.

Dan: To all of you that are listening. If you want to get in touch with Laura, she’s doing some great things and helping a lot of people in the community help the community. Laura: I hope so.

Dan: Thanks so much, Laura, for the important work that you’re doing, stewarding people throughout this process. And maybe we can even have a couple of listeners today who are ready to start exploring their charitable ideas with you. Laura: I look forward to it. Dan: Thanks for being here.

Laura: Thank you.


Dan: I want to welcome Ken Rees. Hi Ken.

Ken Rees: Hi Dan.

Dan: Glad you’re here. It’s been a long time. I’ve known Ken for probably 25 plus years. So it’s an honor and a privilege to have you on the podcast.

Ken: Pleasure to be here.

Dan: Back in 2003, you came to the Community Foundation with a wish to create a model of giving for your family. And you became a donor to your own advised fund, correct?

Ken: That’s correct.

Dan: Today then I think it’s safe to say that you’ve become much more than a donor, I think. And I think you’d probably agree. But you’re an active steward of your own grant program and a philanthropist. So we’re going to talk a little bit about that today. Let’s kind of start at the beginning, if that’s okay with you, Ken.

Ken: Well, the beginning for our family was probably over 20 years ago when our children were out of the nest and on their own. And we began to think a little bit about the future and we saw that our retirement aims were probably going to be satisfied. And so we began to think what lies beyond that? And we came to some conclusions about the idea that we really wanted to focus what we had beyond our immediate needs on causes that we felt strongly about. So we actually got our children together on a family gathering and explained to them our plans for the future. Remember we were still not quite 60 at the time we had this discussion and we explained that, you know, if they’re waiting for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they need to go to plan B, but we wanted them to be involved with us in the giving plans. And so a couple of years later, we had a family retreat and we started talking about what would be some kind of cause or description that we had a consensus among these two generations to try to pursue? And we came up with the idea of efforts that tend to move people away from generational poverty.

Dan: Which is an incredible, admirable cause. And let’s face it, we live in Oklahoma, Oklahoma is doing its best to gain top 10 status in a lot of positive areas. But unfortunately, we are top 10 status and a lot of not so positive areas, one being generational poverty. What made you decide that this was something that you had a passion for and wanted to do everything you can to help folks work their way out of a system like that?

Ken: Well, certainly we always had the alternative of giving to immediate needs, emergency needs, other social service needs such as that. But when our family got together to discuss what we really felt we wanted to commit to, we felt we wanted to make a longer-term contribution that would alleviate not just immediate needs, but would lead people out of those conditions and circumstances and give them the tools and resources for the family, their children, and hopefully their children’s children to succeed.

Dan: Why did you choose the Community Foundation, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to execute that vision?

Ken: Well, first of all, we didn’t feel quite capable of always picking out the best and most effective recipients for our gifts. So we felt we could get some extra help from the community foundation. Second, we found out the idea of the donor-advised funds, which allows you to place your funds with the foundation as you have them available and then save them up. And in fact, earn some return on them until the time when you have selected the causes that you want to benefit.

Dan: Absolutely. So, you know, I know that, you know, right before the episode, we were talking a little bit offline, and there, you know, you had mentioned a couple of organizations that are pretty meaningful to you and your family. Tell me a little bit more about the causes that are important to you.

Ken: We first just sort of explored different things that came to mind. We would ask the community foundation to kind of give us feedback on whether, what their reputation was in the community and make sure that they were qualified to receive a gift. Then we began to think about how we might make more of an impact. And that’s when we came up with what we call, breakout challenge, which is a grant competition for a larger grant, rather than just a small or an annual grant. And so the Community Foundation was excited about that. They made the grant competitions happen. And the very first one that we gave was to The Boys and Girls Club, which had an idea of opening up an after school program for the first time in Oklahoma City’s Hispanic community, Cesar Chavez Elementary. We were able to fund that for the first couple, three years. And it’s been so successful that they’ve been able to replace that with a lot of community support from many other donors. And that’s been much the same program that we’ve used. We also were able to help Remerge. Those are some of the programs not to mention the City Cares Quiz Kids, which of course I was active in and we’ve given them some help over the years. Other programs such as Positive Tomorrows, which is a wonderful school for homeless kids in our community.

Dan: Absolutely. Well, I’m looking at a picture here. I’m staring at a picture of you standing in the background of a young mom, pushing her a little girl on a swing set. So, you know, you tend to be more than just a donor that stands out here and just writes a check every now and then, you tend to get involved. Why is it important to be more than just a donor or be directly involved?

Ken: Well, first of all, if you don’t have passion to combine with the analysis of what they do, you know, somehow philanthropy, it just doesn’t get into your bones and your system. The other thing is that we hope after we’re gone that our children will continue to grant the remaining funds that we have, and that maybe what we do is an example to them, and hopefully they will catch the fever. And I think some of them already have.

Dan: That’s unbelievable and a great, great, great testament to you and your wife, obviously raising your children in the right way. What would you tell people who want to become charitable, but might consider a traditional estate or trust planning firm like Schwab or Fidelity versus coming on to the Community Foundation let’s say?

Ken: Well, certainly Schwab and Fidelity can establish a donor-advised fund for you. That’s not the important part though of being effective as a donor. It has to do with deploying those funds in a way that makes an impact. And the Community Foundation knows Oklahoma City and the programs that are effective. And is in a position to ask the right questions and to lead you to the right people to give to. I don’t think that Schwab and other financial services organizations are in a position to do that.

Dan: How has it been working with the donor services team at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation?

Ken: I couldn’t be happier with the wonderful support I’ve had. The people are all qualified, they’re networked into the community so that they can provide their personal testimony for how these organizations work and how effective they are. And they also have been helpful in putting together tools for our family to be able to grade the grant applications. They have given us the tools and then we have actually gone through the evaluations, but we felt more confident having their help in the process.

Dan: Ken, we want to thank you so much for telling your story today. Very, very inspiring, obviously. And I appreciate you taking the time and everything that you’ve done to help the community.

Ken: Thank you, Dan,

Dan: If you’re thinking now, man, I got to get involved and start the year by setting up a fund that could benefit the community in 2021 and for years to come, get in touch with us and we’ll help you carve out that vision. As always this is Dan Martel and I can’t wait to explore more charitable giving strategies with you the next time.

Creating Impact Through Giving is brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, a nonprofit that works with donors to create charitable funds that benefit our community both now and in the future. If you want to be notified about future episodes, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter at For all episodes and more information, visit Thanks for listening today and I’d like to leave you with this: Everybody wants to create some kind of impact in your community – What would you like to do? Contact the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and let us help you turn your legacy into a reality today. See you next time.

Episode 7 Transcript: Ring in Year-end Giving with Us!

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 7: Ring in Year-end Giving with Us!

Dan Martel: You’re listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation providing you with the stories, techniques, and tools around impactful giving. On this show, we’ll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders, and our team of experts to identify charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.

Dan: I’m Dan Martel, and welcome back to the Pod; to our last episode in 2020. Hard to believe that we’ve been doing this all year and here we are at the end of the year. When we started out this podcast, we wanted to bring you topics, guests, and tools around charitable giving and help you understand a little bit better what we do here at the Community Foundation. I certainly hope that we’re able to accomplish that over these first few episodes, but if you have any specific topics you’d like us to cover, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email or social media, or by leaving us a review on your podcast platform of your choice. We do appreciate that.

Also our 2020 annual report is hot off the press. By now you should have received a copy in the mail. If you haven’t, we’re happy to send you an extra copy. It’s full of impact stories, people, and good causes that have shaped us over the last several months. So you’ll want to look for our 2020 annual report as well.

We’re rounding up 2020 by bringing back an expert from the very first episode Mr. Joe Carter. So glad to have you back. Today, we’re talking about different charitable giving vehicles, fund types, and important year-end giving advice. This episode is really directed toward people that want to make an impact either toward the end of the year or at some point in the future. And to set people up for success, we want to explore different fund types and avenues to contribute to your favorite charitable causes while also maximizing your tax benefits. Joe, around this time of year, what are some of the important deadlines for people to remember?

Joe Carter: I think when it comes to charitable giving from a personal standpoint, being cognizant of how gifts get to charities, when charities record them, and when those tax deductions actually take place. So I think for somebody making a cash contribution towards the year-end, they just want to make sure that if they are sending it via mail, that it is postmarked by December 31st. For anybody considering making contributions of appreciated stock, especially from a wirehouse or brokerage account, I would be inclined to say that you probably need to have those done by December 21st, if you can the 18th even better.

As it relates to any other type of property that you may gift, obviously if you’re doing real estate or something tangible like that, the sooner the better. But the bottom line is especially for cash gifts and using the mail just make sure that you have the postmark on the envelope December 31st. Even if the charity doesn’t receive it until January 4th or 5th, it will count towards 2020 contributions. For donors that already have funds with Oklahoma City Community Foundation and are looking to provide grants to those organizations, we would really prefer that you have those requests in by December 16th.

Dan: It sounds great. So while we have you, I want to explore some different giving options that we have here at the Community Foundation. I know that we’ve had a lot of people on the pod that have been on the receiving end of those gifts, and we’ve never had actually talked about the different ways that you can leave a legacy. So give us a little one-on-one, if you will, on some of the different fund types and the varying benefits that each one might have.

Joe: The majority of the donors that come our way actually come in through our charitable organization endowment fund program, in which we have about 380 plus charitable organizations that have an endowment fund here, which in more layman’s terms, that is a permanent fund that provides sustainability support for those organizations. As it relates to individuals who want to come in and establish something on a larger scale, either for tax benefits or state planning, or just outright charitable giving, we’ve got a couple of funds that are most used in that arena. The first is what’s called a gift fund. It’s a total spendable fund, meaning that anything that you put into it, you have the ability to grant out the totality of that on your own timeline. So if you put a contribution in, in December, you’re going to get the full market value of that contribution as far as the deduction. And then you have any time in the future to spend those dollars out; whether that be 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 40 years.

The second type of donor-advised fund that we have is called a legacy fund. That is more permanent in its nature, meaning that you’ll transfer an asset into us and it becomes a permanent fund of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. However, it grants out 5% of the market value of that fund each and every year in perpetuity. So if you transfer in $20,000 today, it works off a 5% spending policy. So next year you’ll be able to grant out a thousand dollars and then the next year, hopefully through investment performance and what have you that will have grown to $20,500 or $21,000. Now all of a sudden, rather than granting out a $1,000, you can grant out a $1,050.

So over time it becomes a very valuable tool, both for your giving and maximizing your impact and certainly for those charities on the receiving end. People often ask, well, which is better the gift fund or the legacy fund. The answer is, there’s really no right or wrong answer on that. Both do their jobs. The gift fund, I would say, a lot of times we use that in tax planning, especially this time of the year when somebody is needing that last year or year-end contribution, but they’re not really sure what charities they want to support. They can establish a gift fund, get their tax deduction, and then decide later on where they’re going to make those gifts. The legacy fund is often used in estate planning or for individuals that are looking for that private foundation look or looking to start their legacy earlier during life.

But when it comes to right and wrong, this is the way I describe it. The legacy fund allows you to have maximum impact for a long, long time. So for example, if you had a gift fund and you made an outright gift of $20,000 from your gift fund to a charity, they’d have $20,000 and they may or may not spend that within a week’s time or a month’s time or even a year’s time. If you had a legacy fund and you wanted to provide support to them, but you were looking at something on a more permanent scenario, if you put $20,000 into a legacy fund that then supported that same charity, historically it’s taken a little over 13 years for that charity to have received the total of that $20,000. However, the fund would now be worth $44,000. After 50 or so years, that charity would be receiving a distribution each year equal to about $20,000.

Dan: My understanding, Joe, is that you’ve got some funds here right now, though, that have been with the foundation, as you said, maybe up to 40 – 50 years that are actually reaping quite a benefit, you know, at the end of the year, is that correct?

Joe: Absolutely. So for donors that are thinking about sustaining that support for a charity or a purpose, legacy fund is a fantastic opportunity. For other donors, the gift fund, they’re utilizing more as a tax tool and it’s just efficient and effective, then it’s certainly the right tool for them. So there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s just a matter of, are you looking at short term results? Are you looking at long-term results?

So those are the two donor-advised funds we do have for individuals that really want to get their family engaged. We have family affiliated funds. They look and smell an awful lot like a private foundation from the standpoint is they meet at least once a year, have family meetings and then issue grants out.

Dan: Is that a permanent fund, Joe, the family?

Joe: That is, too.

Dan: Okay.

Joe: So it works basically off the same principles. It does give a little more flexibility to the donors as far as the spending policy. Whereas our legacy fund has a fixed 5% spending policy. Our affiliated funds are really determined by the committee and that could be, you know, income only. It could be 4%, 4.5%, 5%. It does allow for a little additional opportunities that the donor may want to build in.

Dan: Well, that’s a really nice distinction between the gift fund and the legacy fund. So I appreciate you jumping on that. I know later we’re going to be speaking to someone who’s successfully built and used a donor-advised fund, right?

Joe: That’s correct. Herb Martin will be coming in, great guy. He has utilized this fund over the last few years that he’s had it. I think he will probably admit that it’s been a very easy transition to use the Community Foundation. The support he receives from Laura Moon who’s in our donor services that works directly with Herb has been a great help to him and his wife.

Dan: Excellent. I look forward to meeting them. So let’s say you’re not ready to start your own legacy fund right now. What other tools do we offer for people that want to make an impact or gain a tax advantage in a short term, let’s say?

Joe: Well, I think that’s where we’d really get back to looking at the charitable organization endowment funds. They can accept any dollar amount. Oftentimes that’s one of the best ways whether you’re thinking about through estate planning, or if you’re thinking about current giving, they can leave a small or a medium-sized gift, or even a large gift to any one of our charitable organization endowment funds or any of our scholarship funds. All those ways. You can have an impact.

Dan: So a lot of things have changed as far as the charitable law and things like that. So let’s discuss some of the new laws that may affect donors, especially now that we’re moving toward the end of this particular year.

Joe: So 2020 has been a year filled with all kinds of uncertainties, and as it relates to Legislation and Congress, they’re always good at enacting laws it seems like, and changing the situation. But for 2020, they actually aided charity with a couple of things. One was the Cares Act that was passed this year. So for any donor that doesn’t itemize, there’s a provision in there that allows for a $300 charitable contribution to be realized above the line on your tax return. When you say above the line, that essentially looks and smells like a tax credit.

For people who make charitable gifts, think that when you make a $300 charitable gift, that you get a $300 tax savings, and that’s not really the way it works. Tax deductions are based on your income tax bracket. So that’s a good thing to always know, because I work with a lot of donors that say, well, I made a $300 gift, so I get a $300 deduction off my income tax. That’s really not accurate. This particular opportunity, this $300 gift is above line, which actually lowers your adjusted gross income, which also lowers your taxable income. So totally different than a charitable contribution. So as long as that is made to any 501(c)(3), that is a valid deduction for this year.

A couple other things they did is a lot of people in the past have utilized their RMD to make direct charitable rollovers. Well, for this year, you are not required to take the RMD. So we’ve lost…several of our donors who in the past have made their RMD gifts to us, they’ve been able to keep that money in their IRA and allow it to continue building, which fortunately the market’s been good this year. So a lot of those IRAs have gone up, but beginning January 1st, they’re going to be able to go right back to utilizing their RMD for charitable gifts.

Then just the other thing that they’ve done for 2020, is for anybody making cash gifts, typically in the normal cycle of planning, you’re limited on cash gifts up to 60% of your AGI. Meaning, that you can only get a tax write-off for 60% of your AGI using cash gifts. For 2020, they’ve extended that to a 100% of your AGI.

Dan: Oh, that’s interesting. Okay.

Joe: So if you are an individual that has the means, and you don’t need any income for 2020, you could actually donate 100% of that income this year to charity, as long as it’s a cash gift and you would have zero income this year. You’d still have to file taxes, but obviously, it would show that you had zero income on the year. So it’s fantastic. We have had a couple of donors that have been fortunate enough to be able to utilize that. Again for cash gifts this year, you can donate up to 100% of your adjusted gross income

Dan: And Joe, because our podcast is titled Creating Impact Through Giving, what has been your favorite impact story in 2020 or a particularly creative giving solution? Has anything come to mind?

Joe: Well, so there is a couple solutions that have come out, there, again from some of the acts that have been passed through Congress last year, too. One of those that’s probably the most creative is, for individuals in the past when you passed away and you had an IRA, those would pass to your heirs and they had the opportunity to do what’s called a stretch beneficiary IRA, or an IRA stretch beneficiary. Meaning that your kids would inherit that IRA. They could take the income stream off of that during their lifetime, just as you have with your own IRA. Well, they passed a law a couple of years ago, which actually limited that IRA now to 10 years. So the beneficiaries now have to take full distribution of their inherited IRA over a 10-year period.

Well, a creative solution that we’ve done for that is utilize what’s called a charitable remainder trust. You could leave an IRA or 401(k) or 403(b), make the beneficiary of that a charitable remainder trust. Then that charitable remainder trust can there again, pay your kids or whoever your inheritors are over their lifetime. So it eliminates that 10-year window.

Now, the way that works is your estate would receive a charitable deduction for the amount that went into the charitable remainder trust. Then at the end, whenever your inheritors pass, whatever’s remaining in that trust will go to charity. So it’s a very creative way to do charitable giving, extend the payments beyond the 10-year limitation period. That’s there and get back to kind of the stretch look.

Dan: Joe, I understand that people can call you direct, right, if they have any questions on that? What would be the best number for them to reach you?

Joe: So the best way to get ahold of us is call at (405) 235-5603. Just ask for me or anybody in our donor services and they’ll be able to help you out on these various things.

Dan: Well, Joe, thanks so much for chatting with me today. Always great to have you back on the pod. We’ll look forward to having you back on again and to our listeners. If you have any questions about which fund type best suits your charitable needs, or you just want to explore some options, don’t hesitate to give us a call and ask for Joe.

Joe: Appreciate it, Dan, thank you.

Dan: We could talk about different fund types and giving vehicles all day long, but don’t take it from us, let’s talk to somebody who has established his own fund and has been really successful in building his charitable legacy. Herb welcome.

Herb: Thank you.

Dan: Really glad you are on the podcast today.

Herb: Happy to be here.

Dan: Before we chat about your fund, tell us a little bit about who you are and how you got in touch with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Herb: Well, I’m recently retired from a 35-year career in the oil and gas industry. I’m a geologist by training. My wife, Marynm, and I’ve been married 37 years and we have three kids, three grandkids, and we came to Oklahoma City, well over 13 years ago, after spending the first 25 years of our life together in Houston.

Dan: Big difference?

Herb: Yes, in very many ways, but in almost every way, we like Oklahoma City much better and we chose to retire here. So, quality of life is outstanding.

Dan: I was going to say the good news is, at least you can get from point A to point B in a decent amount of time versus all that Houston traffic that you were probably stuck with.

Herb: That’s certainly not a small factor. You know, everything in the world is available to you in Houston and almost none of it do you want to do because it’s such a pain to try to go do it.

Dan: Oh, I understand.

Herb: My wife and I both have a heart forgiving. Our financial advisor said, you know, there’s probably better ways that we can give; more efficient, more tax beneficial, and really more beneficial all the way around. We’re able to give more because we don’t have to be as mindful of sometimes the cost of giving, if you will. So that’s how we came to look for a foundation in the first place to get away from what I was doing before, which was writing checks.

Dan: Fantastic. What inspired you to look into funds and how did you go about exploring your different options?

Herb: Well, it was following up a little bit on what we were just talking about. My financial advisor, our financial advisor, you know, recognized that we have a heart for giving and that we maybe weren’t doing it in the most beneficial way, that there were ways that we could be as generous or more if we did it in a smarter way that took more advantage of the system. So that’s what we chose to do. So we started looking for places to get that done.

Dan: And you settled on a donor-advised fund. What is it about that that stood out to you?

Herb: Well, you know, donor-advised funds have the greatest flexibility. You know, they’re not necessarily constrained by limitations of foundations or things like that. So we could just make a single donation into the fund. Then as opportunities came up, I mean, we have a few passions that we focus our giving in. But beyond that, we tend to give throughout the year to various things that appeal to us. So having the flexibility of the fund where literally it’s as easy as calling Laura or Jennifer and saying, could you help us make a gift here? And that takes care of it. So I think that flexibility of a donor-advised fund and the simplicity of it is what attracted us to that.

Dan: You know, Joe was telling us a little bit earlier that you guys have been kind of having a little bit of fun granting to different organizations. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about some of those passions that you have? What are some of those organizations?

Herb: Well, certainly my wife and I focused more than anything else on basic human needs. Things like hunger and long-term things like education. I guess our feeling is, as fortunate as we’ve been, that we just couldn’t live if we weren’t trying to make sure everybody doesn’t go hungry, at least in our world. Yet long-term when you think about how do we make the world a better place, education is foundational to that. It helps us rationally think and make decisions for ourselves that makes the world a better place. So we have a lot of focus on both education and those foundational fundamental needs like hunger. Outside of that, there’s a variety of other things that either friends are involved with or we’re seeing something that struck our hearts and made us give in that direction as well? So it’s a rather broad-based portfolio of charities we try to support in a small way.

Dan: Well, I mean, just based on what you just said, Herb, it sounds like our city, and our state, and our world would be a better place with more Herb Martin’s in it. I’ll tell you that.

Herb: You’re kind to say that. We try.

Dan: So how has it been working with the Community Foundation throughout the process? You came over, they got you hooked up. Tell me about that process.

Herb: Well, again, I came over with our financial advisor. Who’s really, you know, he’s more of a friend than anything. He knows us very well. He recognized the inefficiency in the way that we were doing and certainly that we had a commitment to giving. So he figured let’s see if we can figure that out. I think he’s pretty familiar with the Community Foundation. So he brought us here and we met Joe and Joe talked to us about our various options. We talked about maybe did we want to do a foundation? We also brought a lawyer with us, a lady who helped us do a trust document. She kind of guided us away from a foundation. It didn’t seem to fit where we were in our lives, you know, setting up our own sort of a fund.

Dan: Sure.

Herb: Instead going with the donor-advised fund because of the flexibility. Joe described that and we met some of the folks here and it was a pretty easy decision. It was a fit with what we wanted to do, and it was right in the wheelhouse of the Community Foundation. So it just worked out great.

Dan: Good to know. What would you say to donors who are perhaps thinking about leaving a legacy or want to start their own fund, but might be a little bit hesitant to make that leap? I’m sure you’ve had those conversations.

Herb: Well a little bit. I have and now that we’ve experienced it, I mean the expertise that’s here, the information you can get when you’re trying to decide about a new organization that you might want to support, it’s wonderful here and the ease. I mean, it’s just incredible how easy it is, instead of me in the past, filling out all the forms, contacting people, figuring out how to designate a check. It’s literally as easy as an email or a phone call to Laura or Jennifer, someone who can help us.

I don’t have to do anything, yet we get all the benefit. It’s cleaner and simpler on the taxes. Don’t have to keep up with all those receipts. We have one gift we make and we make that gift to the Community Foundation and that’s it for tax records. Then everything else is handled on the backside, through the foundation. Also the ease of the knowledge that the people have about the timing of things. When do you want to do them through the year? How about matching funds for various charities? Things like that. The knowledge of the people here and the experience of the people here makes that easy, too, so that I don’t have to go do that digging. I don’t have to try to figure all that stuff out. I mean, literally, there’s not a downside that I’ve seen at all to our relationship with the Community Foundation.

Dan: I think you’ve given a lot of our listeners, some great advice on somebody that’s actually come in here and established a donor-advised fund. We, again, need more like you. So we love hearing those impact stories, especially the people at the center of our work and donors like yourself. So I want to thank you for being on the show today and we look forward to having you back again.

Herb: Well, thank you for the opportunity.

Dan: Well, that’s it from us today. Make sure you’re getting our emails to be notified about grant deadlines, nonprofit training sessions, and other upcoming opportunities go to to get on our mailing list today. Remember to follow this podcast to get the most up-to-date information every month.

I hope everybody’s staying safe. We do appreciate you sticking with us throughout the year. We look forward to in 2021, where we’ll have more exciting topics to discuss here at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. We’re glad you’re a part of us. Safe holidays, and we’ll see you next year.

Episode 6 Transcript: Give Smart This Giving Tuesday

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 6: Give Smart This Giving Tuesday

Dan: You know, Giving Tuesday is coming up quickly, and for some of our nonprofits, that means gearing up for one of the most important seasons of the year, which is the holiday and giving season. Well today I’m excited to welcome a great group of guests to discuss a free tool that organizations can use to set themselves up for success throughout this season. Stay tuned until the very end for some important announcements about upcoming grant opportunities too. You won’t want to miss that, but first let me welcome our in-house experts on smarter giving, Kelley Barnes.

Kelley: Hi Dan.

Dan: …and Rachel Mouton.

Rachel: Thank you Dan.

Dan: Later, we’re also going to be chatting to someone who has given smart in the past, former trustee and Dean of the Minder School of Business, Dr. Steve Agee. Also on the pod later in this episode, we’re going to talk to DesJean Jones from the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Oklahoma County, better known as OIC, who has a great pitch to fellow organizations this giving season. But we’re going to go ahead and dive right in with Kelley and Rachel. So I want to start with you Kelley, tell us a little bit about what your role here is at the Community Foundation.

Kelley: Sure. So first thanks for having us on. This is exciting. I’ve never been on a podcast before, so it’s a new venture for me. I am part of the community programs team. Our community programs and grant area has different areas, parks initiative, the GiveSmartOKC platform, the Keep Moving OKC initiative to get everybody in our community up and moving and having a healthy lifestyle. We have grants in the areas of opportunities for children, elderly services, access to healthcare. And we’re not only about giving grants away. We’re really about providing a community leadership role and that means convening and providing expertise where we can.

Dan: Fantastic. Kelley, you mentioned GiveSmartOKC. I want to really talk about that today. That’s really what the podcast is going to focus on today. So I’m glad that we have the head of the GiveSmartOKC platform. Miss Rachel Mouton. So Rachel, if you could, in maybe a short synopsis, tell me a little bit about what GiveSmartOKC is.

Rachel: So GiveSmartOKC the very short answer, is it’s an online database of charitable organizations here in central Oklahoma. Currently there are just over 300 charities featured on the platform. One of my main roles is getting to work with each of those charities to help them present their organization, the programs that they have, the individuals they serve in the best light possible to community users.

Dan: I think our listeners, as we get into this, we’re going to find out exactly how this platform works. And it’s really exciting. Especially this time of year, as we get close to the end of the year and people are thinking about, gosh, what am I going to do to make an impact in our community? So we’re going to get excited about that. So, I want to kind of back up just a little bit and Kelley, I want to start with you too. So tell us a little bit about how GiveSmartOKC started.

Kelley: Sure. So the organization was really looking for a platform, a database of sorts to hold all the information that we were collecting about charitable organizations. So we didn’t really have a repository to keep it. And then we also wanted to share that information with our donors. About that time, the Minnesota Foundation was doing something and, and the Kansas City Community Foundation developed the platform and sold it to a company called GuideStar. And probably in 2011 or so, the head of GuideStar was driving through Oklahoma City with his son on a trip from Washington DC to California, and happened to stop at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. A man by the name of Bob Ottenhoff. And so when the head of GuideStar stops by how do you say no? And it was the perfect solution to what we really needed. So that has kind of helped the platform get it’s initial start at the Community Foundation.

Dan: I want to talk a little bit, Kelley, and then I’m gonna come to you, Rachel, on the idea of how Give Smart OKC fits in the overall role in the community. I want to talk about things like transparency and stewardships. And if you could maybe elaborate a little bit on that whole, you know, relationship between donor and charitable causes.

Kelley: Sure. I think because we’re a Community Foundation, we work with a lot of donors. We work with a lot of charitable organizations. So it’s a great platform to bring all of those worlds together. It’s a way for us to collect due diligence about the charitable organizations that we work with. And also one of the things that we were finding is that charitable organizations, most of them have a website, right? So they don’t have a common way that they have their information available. You go on to XYZ organization and they might have a lot about their programs, but kind of hard to find their board list. Maybe there’s not any financials on their website. So this is a repository that’s vetted by the Community Foundation and has the same formatting. So it’s easy for donors or people who are looking at organizations to compare the information and it all lives there in one profile.

So, you know, depending what’s important to a donor or a granting organization, they can find that information on GiveSmartOKC. To me as a donor if, for instance, it’s really important to have a diverse board, I can look up their board and then oftentimes we can see what the demographics are of that board.

Dan: That makes sense. So Rachel, I’m going to come to you just for a second cause that, you know, from my understanding a lot of good things have been happening with GiveSmartOKC and it’s kind of new and improved this year. Right?

Rachel: Yes, very recently.

Dan: Let’s talk a little bit about that. So what are some of the key differences between the old GiveSmartOKC and what’s happening right now on it to make it even more consumable, if you will, to our people out there that are listening.

Rachel: Right. So actually in March of 2020, we rolled out the new GiveSmartOKC. It is actually in partnership with Thriving Cities group. So we’re no longer hosted by GuideStar. That’s kind of a whole background story, but we are now at thriving cities and it has opened the door to a lot more functionality of the platform. So as Kelley mentioned, the profiles have very robust information and it’s all displayed in a very clean and consistent formatting across the website.

But now the site is more than just a database of organizations. It is actually becoming a city data hub. It has an interactive map feature, but now if you are, so let’s just say, you’re really passionate about children’s causes. You can filter by children’s causes and then you can even dive deeper. So say, you know, I really want to help a specific area in Oklahoma City Metro that serves children who are in poverty. Where are these kids and what organizations are in that area working? And it filters down on this interactive map to color shade, the map and show where out in the community, this population is. And then our map has an overlay of all the charitable organizations. So now, not only can they see where are those who need that service, they can see what organizations are actually fulfilling that need and providing solutions.

Dan: Well, that sounds to me then like it doesn’t it matter where you live in the central Oklahoma area here, right? If you live on the South side and you say, well gosh, I’m really interested in a particular charitable organization, but I know that they are probably out of my area. They’re probably too far North for me. I can go on Give Smart OKC and find out where there is a charitable organization that I’m really interested in close to me.

Rachel: Yes you can even dive as deep as census track, which is even smaller than zip code since it has synced with the census, but yeah, so you’re able to get down to that neighborhood level. So if you want to impact your neighborhood, you can see who’s in that neighborhood. You can see what charities are there helping to provide solutions.

Dan: Very exciting. That is really exciting. Who are you imagining? Will find these new functionalities really useful and who would you consider to be our audience?

Rachel: So our two biggest audiences are obviously our charitable organizations. It’s not just about creating their profile. As Kelley mentioned, they can use their profile to do board onboarding for new staff member training, for new volunteer training. They can use this tool as a communications piece and a fundraising piece. Obviously the donors with whom we work with, but not just us CPAs and attorneys. This is a critical tool for them, especially now that GuideStar’s, as we mentioned they have kind of changed their structure and it’s no longer free to see those financials. So we’re providing all of this information in one location. And the 990s and audits that are provided on these profiles, you can see them for free. So this is a huge tool for our advisors in the community, our attorneys in the community who are working with clients who are considering a charitable contribution.

Additionally, you know, student researchers can use this tool to determine the need in the community when they’re working on a thesis and how to solve problems. One of the other things I didn’t mention with the census data on there, that means the system is able to process geo-coded information, which is a really deep level. But what that does is it opens the door for in the future, additional geo-coded data to be added to the platform, say wellness information. So this has the capacity to reach city planners. This has the capacity to reach healthcare officials. I mean, the possibilities are really endless.

Dan: Why would a charitable organization want to be on GiveSmartOKC versus not wanting to participate?

Kelley: The advantage of having a gift smart profile is that you are alongside 327 other charitable organizations that also have their profile. So we’ve got some critical mass. It’s also, we’re the only organization in Oklahoma City who has this kind of a database. We really hope that the charities see this as a benefit to them for promoting themselves. There’s lots of reasons. When I worked at the Myriad Gardens, Oklahoma City Community Foundation chased me around a long time to get my profile for the Myriad Gardens up and going on Give Smart. And I thought, Oh my gosh, these people are calling me. They’re bugging me again. I really need to do this. So one day I just decided, okay, I am going to do this. And so I shut my door, and really within a couple hours maybe, I had the profile up and going. And what was advantageous to me as a development director is that I had all the information at my fingertips that I absolutely would ever need to write a grant, to talk to a board member, to talk to anyone. I had all the information that I needed to have right there on the GiveSmartOKC platform. So I was a big believer in it before I even ever got to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Dan: Is it difficult to sign up for this, Rachel, if I’m a non-profit or a charitable organization, is it difficult to sign up for this? And I understand you do like some tutorials too.

Rachel: I do tutorials. It’s not difficult to sign up. There are some requirements to having a profile. You do have to have three years of board-approved financials, a current board list, your 501(c)(3) tax determination letter from the IRS, and then operate it within 11 County region here in central Oklahoma. So to start a profile, you can go to and you will simply click the ‘add my nonprofit’ button, fill out a short form. I will receive that notification and then, you know, if you’ve met those other requirements, we’ll get you started.

Dan: Yeah, well, that’s great to hear. I mean, right now at this point, it sounds like if you’re a charitable organization out there. And I hope the people that are listening to this podcast that are involved with some of these organizations will really consider if you don’t have a profile on GiveSmartOKC, go to and find out how your charitable organization can be part of this unique platform. So I want to thank Rachel and Kelley for sharing your insight with us today. We hope to see you guys both back on the pod real soon.

Rachel: Thank you so much, Dan.

Kelley: Thank you, Dan. Thank you, podcasters.


Dan: Alright. My next guest is DesJean Jones and I want to say a couple of things about DesJean Jones. First of all, I’ve known DesJean for several years, so I’m glad you’re on the show, DesJean, welcome.

DesJean: 13 years now, since 2007.

Dan: Isn’t that crazy, time goes fast. Thank you for being on the podcast today. And DesJean is the executive director of the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Oklahoma County, better known as OIC. Did I get that right?

DesJean: You got it right. And it’s a mouthful. That’s why we call it OIC because it’s a whole mouthful.

Dan: Well, let’s just dive right in then. So first of all, tell us about OIC and what do you do there?

DesJean: Oh, you know, I am the head of lettuce at OIC. We have this great big salad where we motivate and inspire adult learners through academic and career education. What does that mean? That means that we help adults who need to get a high school diploma. We help people who need to learn how to use computers, who need to learn English, who need to learn how to read. You know, most of us never think about there being people in our midst, in our neighborhoods, in our churches who don’t know how to read, but 20% of the population in Oklahoma reads below a fifth grade level.

So what we do in our halls is really try to kind of right the wrongs of educational trauma and help adults get to where they want to be. We want snatch them out of survival mode and make sure they know that it’s a dream friendly environment, and they don’t have to let not reading or not knowing English or not knowing how to use a computer or not having a high school diploma, they don’t have to let that stop them. We can help.

Dan: That is a beautiful testimony to what you do.

DesJean: Thank you.

Dan: So I want to talk a little bit, you know, what this whole podcast is about, this platform we have here called GiveSmartOKC. And I know that OIC is profiled on GiveSmartOKC. So why did you decide to join GiveSmartOKC and how has that experience been so far?

DesJean: You know, I will tell you when you are a nonprofit we all talk about stakeholders. There are always so many people that we have to speak to with the mission of our organizations. We have to speak to the customers we serve. We all have to speak to funders and other philanthropists and benefactors that we want to give to our mission. And the thing is, what GiveSmartOKC has allowed us to do is to have credibility. When you have an organization and a profile set up on GiveSmartOKC.

When you’re telling a funder about the incredible work you do and the statistics and about how responsible you are with their seed, when they can go onto that website and see it with GiveSmartOKC, it really adds tremendous weight and depth to not just the mission of the organization, but the organization itself. And it distinguishes you from all of the other ‘give money to this’ ‘support this cause.’ It reminds the community that, you know, it kind of has a ‘you’re here to stay’ kind of feel to it. When you have a GiveSmartOKC profile, you feel like this organization is going to be here a year from now. So when the whole program first started, we were really excited to be a part of it.

Dan: So how has it been working with the Community Foundation through that process when you were kind of getting ready to get everything set up? How was that whole process?

DesJean: If I tell you that, OIC that we are fans of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. That in times of celebration, in times of peril, they have been so supportive. Three years ago when I became executive director of OIC, we were in a little bit of trouble and it wasn’t trouble from mismanagement. It was trouble from change where I inherited an agency that was 50 years old, that needed to become more relevant. And in doing that process, you know, there were a lot of things that hadn’t changed. And we were really about to go out of business. I turned to our friends here at Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and they immediately went to work, you know, kind of helping us to stabilize while some of the ideas that we had took hold.

So anything that the Oklahoma City Community Foundation says they want us to do, let me tell you, I want to do it. So when they reached out to us and said, now all of our organizations are required to have a GiveSmartOKC profile, I thought it was an excellent idea. They were yoked right with us to help us set it up and teach us where to get the information so that we can have a solid profile.

Dan: Great news. What benefits do you see in using the site and have there been any particular success stories that you’re aware of?

DesJean: Absolutely, and not just from funders. We have a benefactor to our organization. He really likes to do things completely anonymously. But one of the things he did, he looked us up on GiveSmartOKC. Someone had shared an experience with us, shared information about us. And he looked us up on GiveSmartOKC before he met us for the very first time. As we sat down and talked, it amazed me that he knew so much about our organization. I thought that was pretty cool, but he started hitting me with some numbers and some data. And I’m thinking, who is this guy? Where did he get this information?

And he told me, by the way, it’s a really smart idea for you to put that GiveSmartOKC profile at the bottom of your email addresses. And I realized right then what an impact being on GiveSmartOKC was for us. We made it a part of our global email a long time ago, where everybody who gets an email from us, they can just click that link and it takes them right to our profile. I realized then that more than just us is seeing this information. It’s great for our graduates. It’s great for our board members, people who are interested in serving with us, but to know that it turned into a whole benefactor for OIC, it was wonderful.

Dan: Man. It can’t get any better than that. That’s exciting. So, okay. Like many other charities, I’m sure that OIC is probably also gearing up for Giving Tuesday.

DesJean: Yes.

Dan: Okay. What kind of strategies are you trying to implement this year, and how does GiveSmartOKC play into that?

DesJean: One of the things we’re going to do, of course, because of COVID everybody is trying to be super careful. Last year, we did a kind of an open house thing where we wanted to reach out to our neighbors and have them come to OIC and learn more about what we do. We had a little food, a little something to drink. This year with the social distancing requirements, we’ve made the decision. Of course, we’re going to do some virtual stuff, but we’re really going to move some of our giving links, our Amazon profile and things like that.

In conjunction with that, we’ll have our GiveSmartOKC profile link attached to it so that people will understand we’re not a fly by night organization. OIC has been doing this work in this community for 54 years. I can rattle that off because that’s how old I am. I’m the same age as OIC. So as we do Giving Tuesday, what GivesSmartOKC is going to do is complement our efforts so that people understand that OIC is a really solid investment.

Dan: What would you say to another organization or organizations perhaps, that are out there that don’t have a profile yet? Why would they want to do that?

DesJean: What the profile does it tells the story of the organization. When you have an active and vibrant GiveSmartOKC profile, you have an active and vibrant organization. What we all need is as nonprofits is not just that we be able to tell our story better, but we need other people to be able to tell our story for us. That’s what a GiveSmartOKC profile does is that it puts the information out so that you can have ambassadors of your organization to share that with other people in the community. It takes a lot of time on the front end, but the staff of Oklahoma City Community Foundation is super helpful. There’s nothing that they haven’t done to help us pull the information together and get it in there. And I have to say, Dan, this new platform is so user-friendly. And so if an organization really wants to create those ambassadors, not just locally, but nationally, then a GiveSmartOKC profile is really the way to go.

Dan: Well, we really appreciate you talking so highly about this platform. I mean, it’s an incredible platform. It’s new and improved. It definitely is user-friendly and much easier to use.

DesJean: Much easier to use.

Dan: If you’re an organization wanting to increase your profile in the community this giving season, there’s still time to get with Rachel to get your own profile set up. And I want to thank our guest DesJean Jones of the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Oklahoma County, better known as OIC.

DesJean: Thank you so much. It was my joy to be here.

Dan: I’m now welcoming a man of many roles here in the community college Dean, philanthropist, a leader in the energy and banking world, and a longtime friend of the Community Foundation, Dr. Steve Agee. Hi Steve.

Steve: Hey Dan, it’s a pleasure to be here with you.

Dan: We are glad you are here. And before we get into some of the business on GiveSmartOKC, I want to talk a little bit about you. So why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself and how we got so fortunate to have you involved with the Community Foundation?

Steve: Well, I have to say I’m fortunate to be involved with the Community Foundation because it’s one of the best organizations I’ve ever been involved with. They found me, so to speak, many years ago because I had served on other boards. I’d served on the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Board of Directors. And I have served on the Petroleum Club Board, became president of the Petroleum Club. I’ve served on the Allied Arts Board. I’ve served at the Federal Reserve Board here, the branch office of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and became chairman of that board. And so I think that I’m active as a board member. And so anytime you’re active, you kind of move up into the leadership role, which I’ve done on many different boards. And so I’ve served now as chairman of the Community Foundation Board. So I think I’ve been fortunate in my life to be asked to serve on wonderful boards.

Dan: Well, I can tell you that everybody at the Community Foundation is really glad to have you. So we’ve talked a lot today about the functionalities of GiveSmartOKC. From a user standpoint, that’s kinda what I want to talk to you about. From a user standpoint what do you appreciate about this particular platform?

Steve: So if you’re philanthropic at all, and you’re looking for some organization to make a gift to, this is a great array of different organizations that you can really research before you make your contribution. And of course, if you want to set up your own endowment or a gift or donor advised fund, you can do that too. So there’s so many different avenues you can pursue. And then you could post on GiveSmartOKC yourself, if you have an organization.

Dan: Sure.

Steve: We established the Economic Research and Policy Institute endowment here, and we contributed $300,000. And the Kirk-Patrick Family Foundation matched that with a hundred thousand dollars. And then we posted this on the GiveSmartOKC platform. So individuals, if they’re interested, could make a donation to the economic research and policy Institute through the GiveSmartOKC platform, and they can read about what we do. And it’s just a wonderful way to get the word out about what you’re doing in terms of philanthropy.

Dan: That is excellent. You know, Giving Tuesday is right around the corner. And I guess the big question I would have for you is why should donors consider using this platform to support these charitable organizations?

Steve: Well, first of all, it’s easy to use and it’s free. There’s a lot of information about these organizations. There’s more than 320 local organizations vetted by the Community Foundation which should give donors peace of mind. So there’s lots of good reasons to use this resource.

Dan: Outstanding. We’ll Steve, we really appreciate your sharing your GiveSmartOKC experience with us today. And I hope that other donors will find this compelling as well. And will consider giving through this platform. GiveSmartOKC is where to go,, check us out. We want to thank you for joining us today.

Steve: My pleasure, Dan. Always happy to see you.

Dan: Quick update on our Rebloom Oklahoma campaign. So in case you’ve missed the news last month, we’ve opened up applications to neighborhoods, parks, schools, and other organizations to receive free flower bulbs to plant this fall in preparation of spring. Applications are closed as of this recording and we’ve received more than a hundred applications for some really exciting projects. By now, you should have been notified if you’re eligible to receive the bulbs and how you can pick up your package from us. Please reach out to us if you haven’t heard from us or if you have any questions about this.

Next up, we have two grant informational meetings coming up in December. Those are meetings to help you ask the right questions for your project ahead of time, and also prepare your organization or neighborhood with the information you need to submit a successful grant application.

The first one on December 2nd we’ll discuss the spring cycle of our Parks & Public Space Initiative grants. We’ve talked to Brian about park grants on a previous episode. So make sure you check out that if you haven’t already. And I think especially after the ice storm we had this past month, a lot of neighborhoods are looking to rebuild their parks and medians, and we can definitely help you achieve that. So you have the option to attend this event virtually or in person. And the sign-up can be found on

The second grant opportunity is for organizations to strive to increase the accessibility of healthcare options for the underserved communities here in central Oklahoma. Interested groups can sign up for the all virtual meeting on Deadline to request access as January 7th and, fittingly, you have to have a current GiveSmartOKC profile to be eligible. Another reason to get on there today. And again, that’s to get all the information and sign up.

Finally, a friendly reminder that we’re in the middle of scholarship season and students can apply for one or more of 150 awards available through our site. Head over to for more information on all of our scholarships and how to apply.

That’s it from us today. Get your organization up on GiveSmartOKC if you haven’t already and let us know how your organization is preparing for Giving Tuesday and how we can help you as your Community Foundation.

Episode 5 Transcript: Parks for the People

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 5: Parks for the People

Dan Martel: You’re listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation providing you with the stories, techniques and tools around impactful giving. On this show, we’ll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders, and our team of experts to identify charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.

I’m Dan Martel and welcome back to the pod. Today we’re excited to touch on a topic that hasn’t received a lot of airtime yet but one that is actually an important area of impact here at the Community Foundation: The beautification of parks and public spaces, most notably done through grants and projects administered by the OCCF Parks & Public Space Initiative. Here with us to take us back to a time before parks as we know and love them today, is Brian Dougherty, director of our Parks & Public Space Initiative.

Later also stay tuned for my conversation with J.B. Schuelein from the historic Mesta Park neighborhood, who is going to talk to us about his neighborhood’s improvement initiative and how it was working with the Parks & Public Space initiative to realize the neighborhood’s goals. Finally, we’re chatting to Leslie Hudson, committee chair of the Margaret Annis Boys Trust, Parks & Public Space Initiative, on her philosophy and contributions in the realm of beautification. Exciting stuff ahead, stay tuned for some important notes in the end, and now I can’t wait to turn to our first guest.

Dan: Brian, welcome!

Brian Dougherty: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me today.

Dan: So Brian, you’ve worked in the parks and tree realm for over 45 years, correct?

Brian: Correct.

Dan: You’re a licensed landscape architect and horticulturalist and you’ve been involved in countless parks projects across the Oklahoma City metro, and, in the late 90s, we were fortunate enough to steal you away from OSU-OKC’s horticulture department, right?

Brian: Correct.

Dan: You played a big part in developing the horticulture are floral program as we know it today and then you became OCCF’s resident tree expert. Before we get into the role that the Community Foundation plays in this kind of big picture of parks and public spaces, how has our perspective on the significance of parks changed over the years?

Brian: You know, I think Oklahoma City was unique because we were so land-rich, we had so much land. So, sometimes in some of the areas, you might have a neighborhood and right next to it a wheat field or other types of undeveloped land. And so, some people didn’t appreciate some of the parks quite as much because we were land-rich. As the urban environment has continued to grow, as downtown has continued to evolve, then I think the presence and the value of parks really go up, as a public space that people can go and enjoy.

Dan: What is the role of the Community Foundation and when did we enter the picture?

Brian: You know, it was prior to me coming on, but in 1990, Margaret Annis Boys, a school teacher here in Oklahoma City, left her estate to the Community Foundation for the beautification of public lands. And in 1997, the Community Foundation Trustees did [some] long-range planning to establish the Parks & Public Space Initiative as one of the focus areas. So, you have these two complementing each other, and in 1998, I was asked to join the Community Foundation. Prior to my coming [on], we would still do some flower garden beds, some butterfly gardens at school, some different things. [We] really kind of brought it up to a lot more significance of working through trees and larger projects starting in the late 90s.

Dan: So, let’s talk a little bit about what OCCF does and how do we work with the community, whether it’s a neighborhood park or school…tell us a little bit about how that works.

Brian: Whether it’s a school park, a neighborhood park, a trail – you’re going back into that community and saying, what is this public space, how do you envision this. In one area it might be a tot lot, in another area, it might be an education facility. So, going back in with the neighborhood, talking about what their vision or what their dreams would be and then how do you facilitate this, realizing that these are all public pieces of property. There’s going to be approvals, there’s going to be permitting, there’s going to be all kinds of things. It’s much different than just a private piece of property that you might go out and, say the CEO said to do this, so you do it. You’re going to have to go through a process, so we help them understand what the process is and then how to get from one point to the next point. Sometimes it could be a small trail in a neighborhood park, it might be planting trees, it might be a new playground, it might be in a school and sometimes it might go through a principal and the school board. Other times it might be going through a river design committee and back through city council. A lot of it is learning how to help facilitate and navigate what they really want in the end.

Dan: How does that work, how do our grants work?

Brian: For a lot of our grants in the Parks & Public Space Initiative/Margaret Annis Boys Trust – and it’s handled as basically one grant program – twice a year, we have applications that are due. I will start working with them a lot of times six months before, maybe nine months before. We’ll talk about a vision and we’ll be getting it down to a point. And so again, it might be trees in a park, and sometimes it’s a replacement of some damaged trees, sometimes it’s a new incorporation, maybe it’s a park bench or walking trail – any number of things. Our DNA is probably at the strongest in the trees. And so we’ll come up with that and we’ll start working through the process with the city, with the neighborhood and then we’ll go to the Trustees for approval. It goes to a committee and then up to the Trustees. And it will, for instance, say, we’re going to replace 14 trees at Edgemere Park, or we’re going to do some Crape Myrtle and planting in Mesta Park or we’re going to do any number of projects like that, and then it would get approved. And then, the grantee, I would work hand-in-hand with them and we’ll accomplish that over the next year with whatever the Trustees have approved.

Dan: At what time of year, do the applications normally get filled out? When do people need to be conscious of the timing when it comes to grants?

Brian: We used to do them four times a year, January, April, July and October. Now we do a January deadline and a July deadline. Part of it is so they go into sequence of when the appropriate planting time was. A January grant deadline means that it will have gone through the entire approval process within about six weeks. That means, in the middle of February or the end of February, there would be a full approval. There is still time to get that project in the ground that spring. And that’s a lot of why we do the January and the July [deadlines.] July sets us up for fall projects, and sometimes projects are broken into two, so we want to do half of it in the fall and half of it the following spring. And so those seem to work out well. And like I said, so often, we’re working with people six months, a year — some of the projects that originally talked to me last spring will be the projects we’re working with this coming year.

Dan: OCCF doesn’t just give grants to build parks and public green spaces, we’ve also taken on somewhat of a leadership role — tell us about some of those projects, how did they come about and what’s the value behind the data?

Brian: I think, for some of them, it’s a simple as we are prairie here. So, you know, you look at something as simple as, well we like trees and you look at surveys and people like trees and they like shade. But you know, part of it is, okay what trees are going to live, how are we going to sustain — we’re not looking at 5 years or ten years, we’re really looking at what will this be in 50 years or a hundred years. Can I make it as sustainable as I possibly can? And so from that, we’ve done the tree inventory study, we’ve done the tree canopy study. We’re very active in some of the trails maps and working back with ACOG on some of the trails and amenity standards on a trail. How do you add watering areas or how do you add trash containers? Because the end of the line is, you really wanted to be safe, accessible, you want it to feel good and so, some are very traditional type projects, and some are very untraditional projects.

Dan: You know, we have Maps 4 coming up. What role do you think this data could play for future developments in Oklahoma City?

Brian: I think the tree inventory [project] played a huge role. 19,000 different trees in our city park for inventory, 20 data points on each one. We know a lot about how a Sycamore is going to perform or a Shumard Oak, so that’s fantastic. We have 560 square miles in the tree canopy [assessment study]. It’s dealing with stormwater retention, it’s dealing with all kinds of other data in terms of the canopy and where the sweet spots are on the amount of shade. And then you have the parks master plan, which we’ve been very involved in, that really identifies what a neighborhood park looks like, what a community park, what type of amenities would fit best into those. So we’ve been working with all of these for quite a number a year and you take that type of data and start using it as part of the framework for what can be a Maps 4 and I think you’re just light years ahead. You’ve taken a lot of guessing out of it. You have a kind of a structure all ready to walk into Maps 4.

Dan: Yeah. I want to talk about something that’s kind of exciting that we have planned later for this year and into early spring. Do you want to give our listeners a little sneak peek, Brian, as to what that might be?

Brian: You know, we went through the 50th anniversary and that was special with the trees on the river and planting 800 trees and they’re still doing and performing well and we’ve looked at the incorporation of wildflowers. Well, there was a donor that just really loved beautification and I talked about doing something with bulbs, a spring-type of bulb. And you know, a lot of people will think about that and say, in the spring, now all at once the bulbs are coming up. So there was a thought about turning around and doing a bulb project, especially in light of 2020 and the pandemic and where we’ve been and could we do something now to plant for looking forward to 2021. And I think when you look at the social distancing and all, these outdoor projects like this can happen. So we have 65,000 bulbs coming in and we will be planning on around 500 to 600 different locations in highly-visible, public locations around the city. And it’s a chance for whether it’s a friends group at the library or whether it’s at a park or a neighborhood to turn around and to plant maybe 50 or 100 bulbs around that sign or at that entry. And next spring, it will be complimenting some of the big projects around the city, Scissortail [Park] I think has 60,000 daffodils that will be coming in, Myriad Gardens has them, the zoo… and here you have these smaller projects coming up all over around our libraries and our school throughout Oklahoma City. So we’re looking forward to that. We’re going to be planning that right around Thanksgiving this year and then watching everything come up this next March and April.

Dan: Brian, a lot of people refer to you as a rock star in this industry and regardless of how large or how small the project is, you really seem to enjoy what you do.

Brian: I enjoy helping people help themselves through this process. And you know it’s a real success. Sometimes, it really is as simple as this walking trail in a neighborhood park, or some benches they’ve always dreamed of, or a memory garden at Will Rogers Park or some tree planting at Oklahoma Christian University, where the trails in Edmond meet the trails in Oklahoma City. But it’s helping navigate that and looking for that real success at the end.

Dan: Well thanks so much for chatting with us today, Brian. Can’t wait to see what else we have coming up in the parks and beautification area. Appreciate your time.

Brian: Thank you.

Dan: My next guest is quite familiar with the Parks & Public Space Initiative and we were to work with his neighborhood association many, many times. So let’s welcome J.B. Schuelein from the Mesta Park Neighborhood Improvement Initiative, hi J.B.

JB Schuelein: Hi, welcome, thank you!

Dan: Thanks for being here! So you have been a resident of the historic Mesta Park neighborhood for more than 30 years and you’ve played a crucial role in shaping that neighborhood. So tell us a little bit about where that initiative and that passion originated.

JB: I think when I first was introduced [to] Mesta Park, I had friends that lived there and I was looking for an opportunity to invest. Because the neighborhood was pretty run down. It was in the 70s and early 80s when many of those homes had really fallen into disrepair. People had moved out of the neighborhood, mostly with families, because it was at a time when we had… they were integrating schools. And so it was about the late 70s when some urban pioneers moved back to the neighborhood and began to revitalize it. I came along at about the mid-80s, about the time when we were considering becoming historic preservation and it was a big challenge for our neighborhood. But what I really was attracted to the people, a very diverse neighborhood of all races and nationalities and religions, gay, straight, affluent, not so affluent people. It still surprises [people], you know, we still have affordable housing in Mesta Park, duplexes and garage apartments and four-plexes and things. But the thing that really grabbed me was the people because they’re very welcoming. In a diverse neighborhood, I think you find it that people are just… make you feel comfortable being there since everybody was welcome. Take up our neighborhood namesake, who is Perle Mesta who, you know, was the “hostess with the mostess” in the subject of the movie ‘Call Me Madam.’ So we’ve always been a social neighborhood with ice cream socials and picnics and Mesta Festa and home tours and Easter egg hunts. And so, once I got there, I didn’t ever want to leave.

Dan: And you’re still there!

JB: And I’m still there!

Dan: Let’s talk a little bit about this improvement plan back in around ‘03 to enhance the park. You talked about having a couple of big agenda items; one was to replace the aging sidewalks and the other was to establish an endowment fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Tell me about how you decided to reach out to get OCCF on board and how did you know about the endowment program?

JB: I think we heard about the program through friends in other neighborhoods, Crown Heights I think was the first or so of the neighborhoods, and then Edgemere Park, I think they started theirs a year before we started ours. We had a strategic planning retreat in 2002 and we had a really good board. And it was difficult because we didn’t have a lot of money and we had a couple of — those are both pretty expensive projects at that time — but I think after a great deal of discussion we just boldly moved forward and decided we were going to do both. And so we funded the sidewalk replacement program at $5,000 and said we’re going to raise $10,000 to start that endowment fund. And lo and behold, we met that match requirement from the Kirkpatrick Family Fund to get started and then our good friends in Heritage Hills even match that. So we start at $10,000 but we got $30,000 to start so it was really a win-win for everybody.

Dan: That is outstanding. How would you characterize that partnership you all have with the OCCF?

JB: Well, it’s been terrific. You get benefits in ways you don’t even realize. In addition to establishing that kind of a stable source of revenue for your neighborhood, we can get great technical assistance from people like Brian Dougherty. I mean any issue that we brought to the Community Foundation, he would make it better. I mean, he takes a personal interest in it and really wants to help you. We can learn from his lessons learned, from things that work well in another neighborhood or another park and things that didn’t, but it’s also opened doors to other fundraising opportunities. We were invited to workshops to work on capacity building, that’s the word I was looking for, capacity building and fundraising. And it’s always networking with other neighborhoods and other nonprofits. So, anytime you come to a meeting at the Community Foundation you’re going to meet somebody that has something else that we can learn from them. It’s invaluable.

Dan: Has there been a particular project that comes to mind that you were really proud of that you like to talk about?

JB: The most recent one was our biggest, and it was actually a consolidation of three projects in one. And, in visiting with Brian about what we had in mind, he suggested why not, you know, call it ‘Finish the Park,’ because I think that’s our fourth grant and this one was all-encompassing. It included the volleyball courts and a new entry on the northwest corner and then also expanding our irrigation system there. A large section of the park is intensely shaded and we couldn’t get the grass to grow and the runoff would kind of clog up the storm drains. It was really not very good. And Brian could look at the projects that we had in mind and say, well I can help you with this or I can help you with this but I can’t really do this, so let’s work together. And he helped kind of massage the grant to get where he could help us in the maximum he could. And with that, we were able to accomplish all three. The parks department, of course, is a partner, too, and we really do appreciate working with them; they were very helpful. And it all kind of came together. It was pretty challenging but we did finish all three and the park looks so much better now with these latest enhancements.

Dan: What would you say to other neighborhoods that are thinking about making improvements to their green spaces and are maybe considering applying for a grant?

JB: I would strongly encourage them to [apply]. You know, the endowment fund from the Charitable Organization Endowment program got us started but every program at the Community Foundation is valuable. And I think for us, it’s that building for our long-term financial security, it makes a lot of sense. I really encourage other neighborhoods and organizations to participate.

Dan: Well, thanks so much for coming on the pod today, J.B. Good luck with everything you’re doing in your neighborhood and we hope to see another exciting project from you guys soon.

JB: Thank you so much.

Dan: Finally, we want to talk to someone who’s been heavily involved with our Parks & Public Space Initiative. Leslie Hudson has served as committee chair for both the Margaret Annis Boys Trust, Parks & Public Space Initiative and the Greater Oklahoma City Parks & Trails Foundation. And Leslie has also been a former Trustee with the OCCF. Welcome, Leslie – it’s an honor to have you join us today.

Leslie Hudson: Thank you for the invitation.

Dan: So, Leslie, we could talk about the multitude of ways you have contributed to OCCF’s mission and to the community as a whole, but what I am most curious about today is your passion for beautification. I want to talk a lot about that today. How did you get involved with the Parks & Public Space Initiative and were you always excited about trees and green spaces?

Leslie: I became involved with the Parks & Public Space Initiative in the mid-nineties. I was serving as the tree and beautification chairman for the Heritage Hills neighborhood and we heard about the availability of funds for these kinds of efforts from the Margaret Annis Boys Trust at the Community Foundation. So, working with Brian, I applied for a grant for Heritage Hills neighborhood, which we were successful in receiving, and this kind of started a relationship . Brian and I grew up in Oklahoma City, had very similar experiences both with formal and informal activities within the Oklahoma City parks, And so we forged that kind of relationship. Through parks, Nancy and Brian invited me to serve as an outside committee member on the Margaret Annis Boys Trust, Parks & Public Space Initiative. A couple of years later, I was invited to serve as a Trustee on the Oklahoma City Community Foundation board and during that tenure as a Trustee, I chaired the Margaret Annis Boys Trust. So, I had a long history of loving parks and then a long history with the Community Foundation working in that space to try and increase the beautification within the city and activate our public space.

Dan: You know it’s funny, we were talking to Brian earlier, Leslie, and he mentioned an article that you had sent to him. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Leslie: Well, in the mid-nineties, ‘place-making’ was becoming part of the vernacular of urban planning and there was a wonderful article in the New York Times about a small park in New York that has been developed and became a real place-making symbol within that area and kind of a rallying point for the community. And so I forwarded that to Brian because we’d had similar discussions about parks in Oklahoma City and what they had meant to us as individuals and so that again deepened the conversation that we were having about parks and public space in Oklahoma City.

Dan: I want to talk a little bit more about your overall philosophy when it comes to beautification. I know this is a passion.

Leslie: Well, beautification is something that I think is primarily an interest to all people. I think beautification and beauty enhance life, whether it’s in art, music, or a beautifully designed garden. So, I think it’s just a human nature thing. I think beauty is important for the aesthetic quality. I think that in our city, beautiful public space can really facilitate a pride of place within our city. It enhances the city life. I think it can become an economic generator for the city if you have beautiful public spaces. I think it’s attractive for businesses and families that move into the city. So, I think at a very human level, beauty is pleasing wherever you find it. I think it has civic value, in terms of pride of place, place-making, economic development…

Dan: You know, you’ve also contributed to the initiative in the capacity of a donor. What would you say to other donors, who may be interested in the same areas but really don’t know how to create that impact?

Leslie: I think, as I say I’ve consumed the Kool-Aid about the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. I always think that’s a great place to start when you have a passion. Whether it’s parks and public spaces or some other public charity, I think the Community Foundation is really gifted at matching the passions of individuals with impact in the community. Whether it’s something unique or it’s something that they can direct you to [for which] someone else has a similar passion, I think the Community Foundation is a great resource. We have examples throughout our 50-year history of people who’ve had a particular passion, like Margaret Annis Boys, who left a planned gift to the Community Foundation which has grown over the years and has really supported a lot of the beautification efforts in Oklahoma City. So we have large gifts and we have small gifts. I think that a good place to start is to check in with the Community Foundation and see if someone else shares that passion and they can direct you in the right direction. Of course, if you’re interested we always love to have people involved in the Greater Oklahoma City Parks & Trails Foundation, which is a new foundation that came about as a result of the comprehensive parks plan in Oklahoma City. There was a suggestion that we needed that type of advocacy in the city to support the type of work of parks and public space. So that’s an opportunity to get involved. I would say also to make your interest and your passions known to your councilperson and to your parks commissioner. There are some parks that have their own friends group, like the Myriad Gardens, Scissortail, Friends of Will Rogers Garden…so there are lots of opportunities.

Dan: Absolutely. Leslie, it’s been an honor to have you come on the podcast today. We know you’re a busy person so we know how special it is to have you on as a guest. Thank you for being here.

Leslie: Thank you for the invitation!

Dan: If you want to learn more about our Parks & Public Space Initiative, go to for all the details and any current projects. Our next round of parks grants closes on January 15, but if you know your neighborhood association or school might be interested to apply, feel free to get in touch with us and start that conversation early so we can advise you along the way. And also, if you want to be part of our spring flower initiative, if you want some bulbs for your neighborhood or park, don’t forget to let us know prior to Oct. 28 – that deadline is coming up fairly quickly – so go to the show notes or episode description right now to find out how you can apply.

Last but not least, we are in the middle of our training season for nonprofits with virtual group sessions on how to navigate the new GiveSmartOKC platform or how to set up your organization for endowment success. Please visit to learn how to sign up today and make sure you’re on our email lists so you receive all the news about grant deadlines and other up-to-date information.

Thanks for joining us today and I can’t wait to explore another impact area of the Community Foundation, with a new episode of Creating Impact Through Giving, available every third Tuesday of the month.

Creating Impact Through Giving is brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, a nonprofit that works with donors to create charitable funds that benefit our community both now and in the future.

If you want to be notified about future episodes, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter at For all episodes and more information, visit

Thanks for listening today and I’d like to leave you with this: Everybody wants to create some kind of impact in your community – What would you like to do? Contact the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and let us help you turn your legacy into a reality today. See you next time.

Episode 4 Transcript: The Power of Endowment

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 4: The Power of Endowment

Dan Martel: You’re listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation providing you with the stories, techniques and tools around impactful giving. On this show, we’ll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders, and our team of experts to identify charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.

Hello, I’m your host Dan Martel. Welcome back to the pod. We have quite a busy month here at the Community Foundation and here with us today to talk about all the exciting things that have happened are Nancy Anthony, president of the Community Foundation, and Rhonda Godwin, Vice President of Administration, and our expert on all things investment and money. Also stay tuned for our conversation with Tina Belcik, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County, who will talk about the challenges nonprofits are facing at the moment and how to overcome them by considering long-term solutions like creating an endowment fund with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. But first, let me remind you about some awesome opportunities we have coming up. We’re continuing our training session for charitable organizations with the new, monthly ‘Zoom in on Endowment and ‘Zoom in on Planned Giving’ series. So, if you’re a nonprofit with an endowment fund at OCCF, you have the chance to learn about different strategies to maximize contributions at absolutely no cost. Don’t miss out on our sessions in October. Head to our show notes to RSVP or go to to learn more. Also, if you are a nonprofit that works to serve our senior citizens, in particular, we have a huge grant opportunity coming up for you! Our deadline for these services for the elderly I fund Grant closes on October 12th. If you’re considering to apply but don’t have a current GiveSmartOKC profile, you should go and update that prior to October 12. Another really exciting thing happening on October 1st, it’s the official start of our scholarship season and more than 150 awards will go live on our website. We’ll have $2.5 million in scholarships available this year, so don’t miss out on the extra cash towards your education. Alright, that’s it for housekeeping notes. Again if you’re curious about any of these opportunities, they will all be linked in the episode description. Now I want to welcome our first guest, Nancy Anthony, hi Nancy.

Nancy Anthony: Hello!

Dan: You are the president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and 2020 has been a heck of a year.

Nancy: It sure has.

Dan: I want to talk a little bit about the Charitable Organization Endowment program here, and I know you and I talked offline a little while [ago], but I want to talk about the long-term play that an endowment [requires] and how beneficial it can be for a nonprofit. When is the best time for a non-profit to consider an endowment with the OCCF?

Nancy: I think endowment is something that you do for the future. You don’t go and get an endowment right now – you build it for the future. I’ve always said to organizations if you think that your purpose will be exhausted in the next four or five years, and you won’t need to exist, then don’t worry about an endowment. But if you think you have a long-term future, either you will have an issue that will always be there or if you think you will always be, the services you provided will always be needed, then you probably should think about how those are going to be supported over the long-term and begin to think through how would that happen, and build the support that endowment does. Because an endowment is a long-term venture. It’s not something you go out and get today like you do a capital campaign or new building. It probably is something that you work with donors over a period of time to build. So, it has to do with the future and I would have to also say that, for most people in nonprofits right now, they’re not going to benefit by the endowment they’re building – the people that are coming after them will probably benefit from the endowment.

Dan: So, one of the things I wanted to talk about this year, too, is, I know that Covid-19 played a funky roll this year with a lot of nonprofits, and the Oklahoma City Community Foundation did something really interesting this year in that, you just dispersed some of the checks to these organizations earlier. Can we talk a little bit about that?

Nancy: Sure, well normally we make the annual distribution from the endowment funds for organizations in the middle of October. Because of the COVID impact on the fundraising ability of so many of our organization, we felt like, from a cash-flow standpoint, they might want those dollars sooner or be able to use them certainly, so we went ahead and made those earlier this year, just in order to accommodate what we felt like the needs of organizations might be. And that seems to have been very well received, obviously getting the money sooner rather than later usually is well-received. And I think especially this year, where a lot of fundraising has kind of been important.

Dan: What do you think that some of the biggest issues are that nonprofits face when considering whether they want to establish an endowment or not?

Nancy: Oh I think the biggest issue is the ‘present versus the future’ [issue]. Most of the time, we really look at the needs that are out there in the community. We go look at the dollars, what we could do with those dollars right now versus putting them away or putting a portion of them away with the expectation that in the future they might be used or they could be used to support the organization. So, it really is a matter of your concern and people sometimes think, I’m here right now, I’m not going to be here in 10 years, I want to make an impact right now. So, frequently, it really is donors and people that want to leave a legacy that probably have the most impact, because they understand that they won’t be here, but if it if they could leave the dollars in a way that they would impact something after they’re gone, that that really becomes an important thing for them to do. So, it’s just a different perspective, and both are important, but it’s just the future versus the present in the end and sometimes it’s a hard case to make.

Dan: No, I understand. Well, I know that there is a platform here called GiveSmartOKC. Can we talk a little bit about that? How does that platform work and how does it benefit the nonprofit?

Nancy: We basically said a few years ago, I said, if you wanted to look for a list of nonprofit organizations, you might go to the phone book. Well, the phone book doesn’t really exist anymore, so you had to have some kind of directory. We decided, we have lots of information in our files about the organizations with which we work in the endowment program, why not figure out how to share that with the community, so that, if a donor wanted to know about a specific organization, they might be able to find that out. We found this platform, originally with Guide Star, but it’s since transferred to another group called ThrivingCities – a platform where we can put information, very similar for every organization, and donors can go and look at who’s on the board of the organization, what’s the financial condition of the organization and, just as importantly, what kind of programs are they offering, and where do they offer these programs. Because GiveSmart[OKC] actually has a geographic component now, so you can see where the organization is located and their service area. So it’s just a way for donors to do a little bit of research in a way that allows them to compare organizations. Lots of times when you go to an organization’s own website, it’s really designed to either sell you tickets, hope you get, make a charitable contribution, or let you become very engaged in the organization without necessarily understanding maybe some of the things you might want to know if you were a donor and really thinking about a serious gift.

Dan: What would be the advantage of a non-profit basically establishing an endowment to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation versus trying to do something else?

Nancy: We try to say that there are really three reasons for an endowment here. One of which is, it is a fund that a number of donors can contribute to. So, you don’t have Mrs. So-And-So setting up a trust at this bank or Mr. So-And-So doing an insurance policy somewhere else. A lot of donors can contribute to the same fun, so you have it in the same place. The second thing is that we have policies for investment and policies for distributions that really are geared for endowment funds. They’re not your children’s savings account, they’re not your IRA, they’re going to be there for perpetuity. So, you need to have an investment program, as well as a distribution program, that really is specifically for endowment funds. And the third one is a little bit harder, but it’s important, and that is we’re going to protect it. An endowment fund is supposed to be there in perpetuity, it’s not a savings account or a reserve fund. If the bus breaks down or there’s a hole in the roof, you don’t go into the endowment fund to repair the roof. You really have to protect that. The Community Foundation servers that role for donors who established an endowment fund to make sure those dollars will always be there. Those are the three components of an endowment fund at the Community Foundation. They’re somewhat unique, and I think somewhat more advantageous than just trying to do one on your own with a bank or whatever reason.

Dan: Thanks for being with us today, Nancy. We appreciate having you on the podcast.

So, we want to bring in Rhonda Godwin here. Rhonda, you’re one of the vice presidents here at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. And, I think 2020 is one of those years that people will soon forget. Would you agree with that?

Rhonda Godwin: [Laughs] I don’t think so. I wish we could.

Dan: So, we just closed the 2020 fiscal year. And, considering the fluctuations, how do you think things have been?

Rhonda: It has been a volatile year. We were very fortunate that we ended up positive as of June 30. If you had asked us in March, we would have been really worried that we were going to have a negative performance, but it ended up well.

Dan: So, I want to ask this: You know, people can invest their money anywhere, quite frankly. And, I want to talk about the OCCF investment policy. What makes the OCCF investment policy more resistant to market fluctuations and why would donors trust their money to OCCF?

Rhonda: Yeah, most donors are very sensitive to fees, for sure. And investment fees have increased significantly in our marketplace over the years. It used to be more like 60 to 80 basis points and now people are charging up to two percent. So that’s quite a bit more. Our fees are still around 25 to 30 basis points, so still a very good deal.

Dan: What are some other guiding principles behind the OCCF investment policy?

Rhonda: The biggest thing about our investment policy is, for our endowment funds is, we have a commitment of a 5% spending policy. We look at their market value averaged over several quarters and then we pay out 5% each year. 5% it’s not easy to do in today’s market. That’s the highlight of our investment policy, everything we do is to try to maintain the principal of each of their accounts and then actually be able to pay them out that 5% a year. We have a very qualified investment committee, people who are active in the investment market, which is very important to our portfolio. We’ve added alternatives over the last few years, which, honestly, this last year was a drag to our portfolio. But over the long term, if you look at it perpetually, it should take us into the next level. So, I think all those things are important in are highlighted in our investment report.

Dan: It is really a long term play.

Rhonda: Correct. It is a perpetual portfolio. We have a long-term time horizon, so like back in March, when you had a lot of people pulling out of the market, because they had fear in the market, well we don’t do that type of thing. Because we’re looking at a very long time horizon, ten years or more. So, we really stick with our investment policy. Each quarter, we look at, who are the winners and we actually sell some of those winning positions and go into the lower positions, and that’s really what you’re supposed to do with investments. But it’s the hard thing to do, no one wants to sell when everything is doing well. And you know, we always do it backwards.

Dan: Which seems to have benefited a lot of the nonprofits in the marketplace.

Rhonda: Yes, it does. They get our expertise. A lot of the nonprofits don’t have this size of portfolio that we do and the expertise on their staff that we do, so they get the benefit of using our expertise, and they still get that 5% payout each year.

Dan: Man, that is great news. So if you are running a nonprofit out there or you’re involved in a nonprofit, and you’re listening to this, it might be a long term play but your investment will certainly benefit you down the road. As anybody can attest, 2020 has been one of those years that people want to soon put behind them, but it seems as though, that those who have invested with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation have not really felt the angst and the pains?

Rhonda: I would agree. Our investment performance for the year was 2.76. Of course, we didn’t knock it out of the ballpark with that but we still did well. We were very happy to be in the positive, there were a lot of months we thought it was going to be a negative performance. So, yes, we’re very pleased.

Dan: So, now I want to bring in Teena Belcik, welcome Teena.

Teena Belcik: Thank you for having me.

Dan: 2020 has been a really interesting year, to say the least, would you agree?

Teena: I would totally agree with that. [Laughs]

Dan: How has the year been for Boys & Girls Clubs Of Oklahoma County so far?

Teena: Well, as you said, it’s been a very interesting year. I can rarely contemplate a time when any organization has had to respond in so many dramatic ways outside their normal line-of-business, just to be able to serve their constituents, and that has been true for us and a lot of other nonprofits in the Oklahoma County area. Of course, immediately back in March, when everyone was sheltering at home, we closed all of our clubs and within just a few days received a request to open up emergency child care to help the children of the people on the front line, whether they were hospital workers or first responders. We had to work with local and state officials to put together safety measures for Covid-19 to be able to operate safely in the building with children. At the same time, we had over 4,500 kids that are Boys & Girls Club members throughout the county, who suddenly we weren’t seeing anymore. And we had to find a way to reach out to them, support them, and be able to keep in contact with them to see what their needs were. About 75% of their parents lost their job in the March-April time frame, so we saw a lot of tremendous hunger and tremendous needs, that are not things we’re used to providing for families, but they were critical needs for our families, so we had to step up and help with that. We began distributing after school snacks and evening meals at six locations throughout the county. We began delivering boxes of food to the families in the greatest need, just shelf-stable food so that they had something more than what the kids were able to pick up on a grab-and-go basis. We were again providing weekly packets, weekly activity packets, arts and crafts kits, all kinds of things throughout the county, and doing weekly check-in calls just with the kids and their families to see how they were doing, both physically and emotionally throughout that time and that was kind of just through May.

Dan: That is an amazing accomplishment. Kudos to you for all that you’ve been able to do. I want to talk a little bit about the OCCF and that partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs, too. I know that they’ve been a big, you know, kind of a guardian angel from time to time. Let’s talk a little bit about that.

Teena: Absolutely.

Dan: So, how has the OCCF distribution affected the operations and services of your organization?

Teena: Just knowing that that revenue stream coming in from the earnings on our endowment is critical, knowing that that revenue source is there. I think every nonprofit is in the fundraising business but in our case probably even more so because we do not receive fee income from any sources. Everything that we need we have to raise and so, knowing that there’s an anchor of a certain amount of funds that are coming in year after year from the endowment is huge.

Dan: If most nonprofits understood that, you know, that it’s a long-play situation, it looks like it’s paying off for your organization.

Teena: It absolutely is. In fact, we’re such a believer in it. We just completed an $8 million comprehensive campaign and we had a specific line item in our campaign to go towards our endowment, and we were fortunate enough to have a match come in against part of that as well and because of that, we were able to almost double our endowment in the past year. I really believe in investing for the long-term, but of course, we have to do that while taking care of the immediate term, too. Our long-term goal as an organization is to ultimately get our endowment to a point where the earnings annually will provide a double-digit percentage of our needs each year. We’ve got a ways to go to get to that but I would anticipate that anytime we’re doing a major fundraiser, like we just completed, that having a line item for the endowment would be a part of it because that works very well for us.

Dan: What’s the relationship been like with OCCF?

Teena: So, I have worked with the Foundation for quite some time and I would just say it’s a wonderful relationship that I’m just thankful for that we had this kind of relationship. Certainly from a financial perspective, they are a tremendous partner, but it goes beyond that. There are times when you are facing challenges, like we have faced as a community recently in the pandemic, and even with what we’ve been facing in regards to racial equality and social justice, where you just want a thought partner. Where you just want to reach out and be able to say, hey I need to think this through with someone. ‘I think there’s some things we’d like to do, but it’s going to mean a real shift to what we’re doing from a fundraising standpoint of what our budget is, and I think this is really the right way to do it, and I think this is going to work and I’d love to just bounce this off of you and see what you think.’ So having the foundation as a thought partner and, in addition, all of the resources they bring in terms of endowment and planned giving and just the educational components they provide has been really great. What I think I would be really remiss if I didn’t mention: when the pandemic hit, the very first phone call we received was from Nancy Anthony saying, what does this mean for you all and what do you need. And that’s the kind of partnership that is just invaluable. Not only did that happen if the beginning, it happened again in the summer, when we provided a limited summer program and again, due to social distancing, we couldn’t have as many kids, but the Foundation stepped up and helped us again, when we had needs, to be able to start those in our community. We had seen such incredible learning loss and social-emotional well-being challenges that we knew we needed to be there for the kids most in need and the foundation helped make that possible.

Dan: Are you familiar with GiveSmartOKC, let’s talk a little bit about that, because, you know, you come at this you’re seasoned in the nonprofit world. There’s probably a lot of folks out there that are just getting into the nonprofit space, whether they’re taking over a smaller nonprofit or they’ve been around for a long time and it moved into another higher position at a larger nonprofit. I think the big question is if you’re really considering starting an endowment with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, what would you tell a non-profit is considering opening up an endowment, and then what would you tell a non-profit about the platform called GiveSmartOKC.

Teena: I think in terms of the endowment, there is no better place to do it. Really, they take care of everything for us, we always know exactly where we stand, we have tremendous reporting and anytime we have any questions there’s someone there to help us with it. We don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to be able to do anything like that on our own. So we’re very grateful to have that opportunity here. As far as GiveSmart[OKC] goes, I love that program. One of the things that is really important for us as an organization is fiscal responsibility and transparency. And that really allows us to do that with anyone who just wants to learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs, whether they are a donor. Whether they are a volunteer, whether they are a potential partner in the community – they can learn a little bit about us and from a very credible source, where they know we’ve been vetted. They can see everything from our financial records to who is the leadership team, to a history of what our organization has done and what we’re doing today and having that available all in one place that goes in far more depth than what we’re able to provide maybe on our social media, is really, really helpful. And I will tell you, there are a number of donors that we have every year that said, well I looked you up with you up on GiveSmart[OKC] and I saw this, this and this and that is wonderful for us to be able to have that vehicle for people to look us up without having to pick up the phone and ask us point-blank.

Dan: Well, I think that is a testament in itself because, really, what that platform does, it opens up another line of giving for people that are interested in your organization, which is excellent news.

Teena: It absolutely is and we’re thrilled to have that.

Dan: We’ve been talking to Teena Belchik, who is the president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County, and thank you for being on a podcast today, Teena.

Teena: Thanks so much, I appreciate it!

Dan: We hope that you learned a little bit about what endowments are and how they work with nonprofits and how you can benefit, so if you’re a nonprofit and you’re listening to this broadcast now, we hope you give us a call or look us up at And we hope you tune in next time on Creating Impact Through Giving.

Creating Impact Through Giving is brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, a nonprofit that works with donors to create charitable funds that benefit our community both now and in the future.

If you want to be notified about future episodes, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter at For all episodes and more information, visit

Thanks for listening today and I’d like to leave you with this: Everybody wants to create some kind of impact in your community – What would you like to do? Contact the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and let us help you turn your legacy into a reality today. See you next time.

Episode 3 Transcript: Keep Your Distance But Keep Moving, OKC!

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 3: Keep Your Distance But Keep Moving, OKC!

Dan Martel: You’re listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation providing you with the stories, techniques and tools around impactful giving. On this show, we’ll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders and our team of experts to identify charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.

Hello, I’m your host Dan Martel and in today’s episode, we want to explore a different impact area at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation – our programs. In addition to our funds, we run a variety of programs here at the Community Foundation. They were established to address certain needs in the community, like beautification through our Parks & Public Space Initiative, as well as our wellness initiative, which is something we’re going to be talking about today. In 2014, our Trustees came to the conclusion that staying active and educating people about the benefits of physical activity, especially outdoors, is something that could very positively benefit Oklahomans. They also realized that by tapping into our network of partners and nonprofits, this is an area in which we could actually move the needle here in the community.

In the last decade, our wellness initiative has transformed into a multi-faceted program and today we have the chance to talk to Talita DeNegri and Kristi Birk-Steinberg about an exciting new initiative and the community partners that will help us make it a reality.

I’m excited to first welcome Talita DeNegri to our studio – hi, Talita!

Talita DeNegri: Hello, Dan!

Dan: Can’t wait to learn a little bit more about the OCCF wellness initiative today, but before we go any further, it’s time to reveal what we’re really going to talk about: Last month, OCCF kicked off its new wellness initiative called Keep Moving OKC with the goal to become the number one resource for free or low-cost wellness activities in the OKC metro. The website located at is a free-to-use resource for community members and organizations to search for and promote wellness events right here in central Oklahoma. But before we get to it, tell us your involvement with OCCF.

Talita: Well, there’s a little bit of back history. OCCF has been extremely supportive and generous to our educational community and with me being a high school principal at Mount Saint Mary, they have been supportive of our counselors of our students, so I’ve had a connection with them through our school community. Then, three years ago, I was invited to become a board member and now I can’t believe it’s already been 3 years and I have so very much enjoyed meeting the people who sit on that board and who are dedicated to the community of Oklahoma City and surrounding areas and I have learned so very much, so very much.

Dan: You know, originally the wellness initiative started out as a grant program and then it’s evolved into a communications strategy to encourage healthy activities. So here’s the question today: what is the Community Foundation role in presenting a community message about being healthy?

Talita: Oklahoma City, or for that matter Oklahoma, has not been a very healthy state.

Dan: That’s right, you’re right.

Talita: And so, several years ago, with our wellness committee, we formed and we began sitting down and talking as a task force, so to speak. It started out as Nancy Anthony likes to teasingly lovingly say, it was like we were looking for programs for church and it just was, it was a start but it wasn’t enough and we weren’t broadening the educational efforts. We weren’t expanding the audience and so we were looking first at just older generations and the older community. Well, as everybody knows, in order to start making changes you have to get to the root of the problem and you have to begin looking at the younger generation, the younger community members. And so, we put together a committee, we all had different opinions but that was the beauty of the discussion. We recognized from all different areas of our backgrounds, and let’s see how we can survey various age groups and various disciplines within the city and we gathered all of that data and it took about a year-and-a-half to do that. And we would hit a roadblock, we would struggle with an obstacle in front of us, and we were able to all come together and formulate a plan and idea and take off with it.

Dan: I agree with you. I want to go back to one thing you’d said it’s really because you struck on something that’s really important. Why are young people an important target to this initiative?

Talita: Not only do they offer a wide variety of ideas, suggestions, but also, it becomes ingrained within them, therefore when they start forming their families, having their families, raising their children in that type of an active environment, it’s ongoing, is systemic and it keeps going and going. And then, of course, the ideas become broader and more fun and more exciting and it involves a larger community.

Dan: Absolutely. That is spot-on. You know, why should Colorado be ranked the number one healthiest state?

Talita: Doggone it, we’re right behind them!

Dan: Yeah, only 46 more spots to catch Colorado! (laughs) But I think you’re right though. As we continue to educate young people about this exciting initiative and staying healthy and living healthier lives, it’s only going to be better as future generations of Oklahomans continue to emerge and stay here, which is exciting. So I’m going to keep going here. How would you describe the value of the OCCF wellness initiative in the context of role in the community?

Talita: It’s invaluable because there’s nothing too small, there’s nothing that they aren’t willing to listen to when it comes to ideas, and to believe in the ideas, and be willing to support them in numerous capacities, whether it be funding or whether it be offering other suggestions or providing another outlet for us to consider. Their commitment, their loyalty to the wellness initiative is just invaluable and we appreciate their trust and their support.

Dan: You know, one of the things, as I have been working on Keep Moving [OKC], this whole idea of your user groups came about. Can you talk a little bit about this user group and how you work with them?

Talita: If we want a product to work then you need to get together those who are going to use that product. So, the idea came, alright, let’s invite groups of user groups who would want to put their products on the site and let’s come up with… how can we help you. Help us, help you.

Dan: That’s brilliant. You know, we all live in a very unpleasant time right now with Covid. How has that affected some of the outdoor activities that…and has it perhaps prevented organizations or individuals or groups from wanting to be part of Keep Moving OKC?

Talita: It has. Every aspect of society has been affected. But I’ll tell you this: that user group? It’s more of a community, of a family coming together to help one another all for the sake of, let’s get everybody up and out there and let’s not focus on a problem and let’s see what we can do to help one another.

Dan: You know, it sounds like you guys are truly making lemonade out of lemons in this Covid pandemic, so, good for you guys. Again, I’m talking to Talita DeNegri here, Trustee with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation who works on our wellness initiative, Keep Moving OKC, an exciting website that allows people all over the Oklahoma City metro to go on and find activities, healthy things to do during the summer and into the fall. Whether you like to bike or hike or do yoga in the park or any of those things, so we’re really excited about this initiative. So, I want to ask you one final question, Talita. What are your hopes and goals for the future of Keep Moving OKC?

Talita: First of all, we want to keep it sustainable, on-going, but I want to grow so that anyone, no matter what age, can find something on the site to help them to keep moving. And we want to make it accessible, affordable and doable. But we can’t become stagnant. We’re going to catch up to Colorado, but we have to continue to keep growing. There’s got to be another challenge ahead of us and we have to keep striving to do better, to be better for our community.

Dan: I want to thank you again, Talita, for being on the show today, Talita DeNegri, one of the trustees with Oklahoma City Community Foundation talking about Keep Moving OKC, and for all you listeners, it’s Go there now and start living a healthier and more exciting lifestyle. Thanks, Talita.

Talita: Thank you for this opportunity.

Dan: Later, stay tuned for my conversation with Caitlynne Miller from the OKC Mom blog, who will share her secrets on how to keep kids entertained during a pandemic and how to find the best free or low-cost activities and events for your family. Now I want to bring in the woman that runs the day-to-day business and outreach behind the initiative: Kristi Birk-Steinberg. Hi, Kristi, thanks for being here today.

Kristi Birk-Steinberg: Hi, thank you for having me.

Dan: So, I want to jump right in. Tell me what about Keep Moving OKC, how does the website work?

Kristi: Yeah, absolutely, Keep Moving OKC is a wellness initiative of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. The trustees are the ones who are funding it, so it can be free for use through our foundation. And we launched about a month ago on June 6th, no sorry, June 19th and we’ve been open for business, if you will, for a little over a month. From that, we have over 40 organizations that are posting their events on the website, including city and town municipalities. And when people go to, on the homepage, they’re able to access any events that are that have been put on there by the organizations, whether it’s a free event, whether it’s a kids and families event, whether they’re wanting to find something in a park on a trail. We have over 100 venues, whether, again that’s parks, trails or venues that are attractions, like the Myriad Gardens, like Scissortail Park. And it’s really great that we have the opportunity here at the Community Foundation into one centralized location that anybody can access if they have internet.

Dan: Cool. You know, I did a little scrolling on the website and I think, just for our viewers, too, it’s amazing how many free and low-cost activities there really are across the metro right now, for people that can take advantage of it and, like you mentioned earlier, Kristi, whether they’re into biking or hiking or running or any of those, they can find these places right now in the metro to take advantage of them. Who are you trying to reach with this initiative?

Kristi: We’re looking to reach all Oklahoma City metro area community members but in particular, we’re trying to reach those marginalized community members that may not have access to any events at a higher cost. So, we wanted to create this platform, this website for people of every community in our metro area targeting everyone from as north as Edmond to as south as Norman, to as east as Harrah and as west as El Reno. So, we have a pretty large area to gather events from. That’s kids as young as two or three or our senior adults, we have a little bit of everything.

Dan: Why should organizations join and what’s in it for them in terms of benefits and advertising and things like that?

Kristi: Yeah, this website gives them a broader audience for their events. So, it’s a trade-off. We post their events on our website, we publicize them through social media and through newsletters, through emails. And, as we move forward, our marketing and advertisement will become larger. And in turn, what we ask of them is to bring people to the website. So, giving people the opportunity to add their events on our website, again, gives them a broader audience, gives them more opportunity to reach the people that they may not have the opportunity to engage with and then it builds their audiences as well.

Dan: Well, you know, like so many things across our city and across the country, Covid-19 has impacted all kinds of original plans and I know this was supposed to be a particular launch that you were involved in. How did you end up pivoting to get the word out to people?

Kristi: We’ve really utilized social media and word of mouth. We asked our organizations to talk to other organizations that are similar to theirs or we ask our friends to mention it to someone else and just those connections, especially with social media, can sometimes go further than any other type of advertisement. You know, we are utilizing different blogs, we are reaching out to for-profit businesses, as well as non-profit organizations. Not only are we doing that, but we’re also offering virtual activities on the website. So, it’s been good for people to not only have that opportunity but for us to have added that category into our website.

Dan: Sounds like you guys are really making it work, again it’s for anybody that’s out there listening right now. I want to ask you a final question here, Kristi. How would you like to see Keep Moving OKC grow?

Kristi: I would love to see everyone and anyone using it throughout the metro area to find physical activity events. Events can sometimes be intimidating if you’re starting your physical activity journey, which is why we offer the park in the trails if you want to start out solo before you jump into an event. But I would love to see this publicized in schools. I would love to see this publicized in different social media groups in those marginalized communities. I would love to see this absolutely everywhere because if people are accessing it, then they hopefully are attending those events and ultimately finding what physical activity means to them and finding their passion.

Dan: I think you just nailed it, finding their passion. That’s exactly right. So, we want everybody to follow, obviously, you guys and you can follow them @keepmovingokc on Instagram and Facebook. And keep your distance but always remember to keep moving! Thanks, Kristi, for being on the podcast!

Finally, we want to hear from someone who has already used the site and can tell our listeners first-hand about why they should pull up their browser right now and search for I’m happy to welcome Caitlynne Miller to the studio. Caitlin is a mom of three and co-owner of the popular OKC mom blog, an online community with over 27,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook alone. Hi, Caitlynne!

Caitynne Miller: Hi! Thanks for having me.

Dan: We know times are easy, so the most important question first: how’s it going working from home with three boys running around?

Caitlynne: Well it’s a little bit crazy! They are very busy and they require a lot of attention. They’re used to being at school and so having them home with access to all of their own stuff, it’s been an adjustment but it’s it has been fun.

Dan: Good! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at OKC mom blog.

Caitlynne: So, when I first became a mom, I was looking for resources and that sense of community and I stumbled upon Oklahoma City mom’s blog. And after a few years, I realized that I was reading everything that they put out and I wanted to get more involved. So, I signed on as a contributor and I loved it. I loved that sense of community and after a few years of that, the former owner was wanting to step down and so, another contributor and I decided to take over because we felt like that sense of community was so important for the city and we wanted to keep that going.

Dan: And I would imagine, especially during this time right now, you know, there’s a lot of moms out there that are probably looking for and seeking advice and you’re probably helping a lot of these women right now.

Caitlynne: We like to hope so. (laughs)

Dan: How are you keeping your kids entertained during this pandemic and are there maybe any tips for grandparents, like me, out there that you might have.

Caitlynne: Well, when this first started, we struggled, because we’re the kind of people that go. Like, on weekends, we’re going to go to the Science Museum or we’re going to drive to Norman and find something to do. We’re not the kind of people that just stay at home, so it was definitely an adjustment at first. My boys have always loved nature walks, as they call them, so hiking was easy. They found out that they like biking on trails and they also found out they liked camping. And what we found out from all of that is that on the days where they spend the day outside and we’re more active they slept better, they were more agreeable, just it was easier to be a parent on those days. So, that’s something that we’ve tried to do on weekends when usually, we would have gone to the zoo. Instead, we’ll take all our bikes out and go on the trail.

Dan: Well, that’s going to lead me right into Keep Moving OKC, so what’s been your experience finding fun and safe and affordable events to do with your family, particularly your kids and like-minded moms like yourself?

Caitlynne: It hasn’t been easy in the past. I feel like the default is to go, kind of sit somewhere like Chick-Fil-A, and let the kids play on the playground while the moms all talk. So, I would say that it hasn’t been very easy to find outdoor active activities to do with the kids in the past.

Dan: What was your first impression using Keep Moving OKC so far? Tell me about that experience.

Caitlynne: Well the first [thing] I clicked on was ‘Parks and Trails’ because we love trying new parks and I told you, we are kind of obsessed with finding new trails right now to walk or ride bikes on, and I was very excited about that tab. It has all the parts broken down, it tells you which trails are paved and has a little picture of the trails. You kind of know what to expect. That was the first [thing] I clicked on and that was very exciting for me.

Dan: That is something that, you know, I think that people in your situation, you know, looking for fun things to do, outside activities, low-cost activities is important and that’s really what Keep Moving OKC is all about. Why should other parents and community members utilize the site?

Caitlynne: I think all of us are kind of looking for a sense of community right now. We’ve all been lonely, we’ve all been in our houses. So, I think that getting outside, going somewhere different, maybe to a different city that you have been to before or just a different area of town that you haven’t been to before and just getting outside burning the energy, maybe have a nap when you get home – I think that that’s what most of us need right now.

Dan: I think you’re absolutely right, Caitlynne. I guarantee that you know, people listening to this all across the metro are probably feeling the same way. So, obviously, we’re going to encourage everybody to go to and tell me again, where do people find you?

Caitlynne: We actually just rebranded from Oklahoma City mom’s blog, now it’s called Oklahoma City Mom. We’re on Facebook, Instagram, if you just google ‘Oklahoma City Mom’ – you’ll find our blog there.

Dan: Well, excellent. I want to thank you for being on our podcast today, Caitlynne. We do appreciate you being here. Everybody, go to, I’ll say it again,, follow us on socials @KeepMovingOKC on Instagram and Facebook and remember: keep your distance but keep moving, OKC!

Creating Impact Through Giving is brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, a nonprofit that works with donors to create charitable funds that benefit our community both now and in the future.

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Thanks for listening today and I’d like to leave you with this: Everybody wants to create some kind of impact in your community – What would you like to do? Contact the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and let us help you turn your legacy into a reality today. See you next time

Episode 2 Transcript: The Gift of Education

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 2: The Gift of Education

Dan Martel: You’re listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation providing you with the stories, techniques and tools around impactful giving.

On this show, we’ll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders and our team of experts to identify charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.I’m Dan Martel and welcome back to Creating Impact Through Giving. Today we’re going to be talking a little bit about scholarships. And here is something for our listeners to know, that’s kind of interesting: The Oklahoma City Community Foundation is the state’s largest provider of independent scholarships! And we also allow donors to create their own scholarships or contribute to one that already exists. And creating a scholarship can be quite the legacy to leave behind and it’s certainly one that can create quite an impact in our community. My guests today are Jessica Schwager. Jessica Schwager is the head of the scholarship department here at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Jess, we’re going to welcome you back to the show!

Jessica Schwager: Thank you so much for having me back, Dan.

Dan: And Kelly Epperson, welcome!

Kelly: Thank you for inviting me.

Dan: Jess, I want to learn a little bit more about what you do here at the Foundation and let our listeners know kind of where you came from and how you got here. So, I understand you came from a large university system?

Jess: Yes, I was at a larger university system, as you said, for about eight years. I was working in a small scholarships department there and we kind of grew over time as the need for scholarships became more evident at the university and a need for kind of a centralized scholarship application. So that’s kind of my background, it’s helping to create scholarship applications and working at a scholarship department. So with my background, that really kind of translated to what we do here in our work here at the Foundation with scholarship and I think one of the primary reasons that made this job so attractive to me is that the Oklahoma City Community Foundation also uses an online system for collecting scholarship applications. And so it was really easy because I already used that at the university I was at and I could kind of transition into that here and then just automatically jump right in and help the team with that.

Dan: How do you get students interested in the first place thinking about college? I mean, let alone applying for and qualifying for scholarships. What are we doing right now to get students eager to get out there, to want to go to college?

Jess: Right and I think a lot of times students, or just from my experience, students will have an idea of what college they want to go to but the sticker shock of college is just, it’s crazy. They have no idea how much it costs, so they have this passion to go to OU, that’s where their parents went, that’s where they wanted to go, but then they kind of see how much tuition and fees cost. So I think that that’s really important for organizations like us to come in to kind of help them defer those costs a little bit. So they might qualify for financial aid, they might qualify for scholarships at their school but then we’re a different organization that they can apply for scholarships to and then be able to kind of help with that price of college and make college more affordable for them.

Dan: Well that’s great, you know, you answered my next question, but I want to further that and talk about the rising cost of college today and that kind of thing. You know we talked a couple weeks ago and when you’re going to a college fair or something or to a university to set up what exactly do you bring and what are you talking to students about?

Jess: Yes, so there are four of us on our team that go out to these college fairs. So usually here in about a few weeks there will be a release of all the different college fairs across the entire state of Oklahoma. What we do if we identify the dates that we’re going to go and then we kind of split up those days amongst all of us. What we’re really trying to do is focus on the college fairs where we will have the most impact, so the most amount of students who will be going to these. We try to look for those large college fairs that we can go to and what we do is… we’re alongside every college that’s in the state of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas. All of these admissions counselors will come to these college fairs and then we sit alongside those counselors and while they’re kind of talking about their school and trying to sell their school we’re here just to say, hey you want to go to your dream school? Then come to us and we can help you apply for scholarships, here’s where you go. And a sort of typical table it looks like, we have promotional materials, links to our website and then we always give out our business card because we know that sometimes scholarship applications are just hard to navigate for students that have no idea. They’ve never done this before, so we hand out our business cards and then we say, hey, contact us when it’s time to apply and we will help guide you through that process 100%.

Dan: This is sort of a random question but I’m just curious to know because, you know, I mentioned earlier for our relationship: we are the largest independent givers of scholarships here across the state. How many scholarships do you offer?

Jess: Yes, so last year we ran some numbers. We have about 180 scholarships that we offer. There are 150 of those that are through our online system where students go to apply and for the other additional 30, they’re typically a college using some sort of nomination process or paper application process, but for the most part about 150 of those are in our online system. And then this last year, we awarded right around 800 students with scholarships.

Dan: Well I would think that that alone creates quite an impact.

Jess: It does.

Dan: I want to talk a little bit about donors and people who really set up scholarships, because I know, a lot of people will set up a scholarship in memory or in honor of a loved one and one of our guest today is Kelly Epperson – were going to talk to Kelly about the scholarship that her family set up. How do you do that? How do they go about doing it?

Jess: Donor come to us in many different ways. Sometimes will be recommended to us by financial advisors. Sometimes they’ll know about us because their student applied for scholarships and then maybe a loved one passed away and they decide that they wanted to set up a memorial for that person and then they reach out to us that way. And so we have many different ways that they would reach out to us. What we’re doing is trying to start a conversation. We want to know, why are they passionate about education? What qualifications are they really looking for in a scholarship applicant? I know Joe Carter, our vice president of development, he gets with them and talks about the different options of giving because we have so many different ways that donors can truly give to us. I think a lot of times donors think that they need to have this lump sum of cash that they need to come in with and set up a scholarship and that’s not the case at all. We have different revenues for that. One of our most popular ones is actually IRA rollover,especially for scholarships. We have a donor right now, who has started two scholarships and that was just, every year, she was rolling over her IRA into the scholarship accounts and was able to build up to two scholarships in a matter of a couple of years. We have so many different options for that.

Dan: And the interesting thing is, a lot of these scholarships are in perpetuity. That is always going to be there for students for years to come.

Jess: That’s correct, yes, that’s that’s absolutely correct. In fact, something that I was actually sharing with Kelly Epperson whenever she set up her scholarship…her scholarship was in memory… really, it’s the Epperson Family Memorial Scholarship, so it’s really in memory of their whole family. But when she came to us after her husband had passed away, something I shared with her is actually that my parents set up a scholarship whenever my brother passed away. However, they didn’t know about this endowment, so they didn’t know about endowments, that they even existed. So whenever he passed away, they put in his obituary to send in memorial gifts, so it was great because they could collect all these memorial gifts and then give out scholarships, but once they were done giving out that finite amount of money, then that scholarship went away. And so I really like the option of giving to an endowment because if they would have known about that, I mean, right now, they could still be awarding that scholarship to students, and so, I think that that it is a really, really neat way to honor the memory of somebody after somebody passes away.

Dan: Well and also, to your point, too, Jessica. It is an incredible way for someone to look at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and really understand what they’re getting ready to do, because they probably don’t realize that you have the option to create a lifelong scholarship for students. I think you’re right, I think the endowment is certainly the way to go and I just want more of our listeners to understand that. There’s a huge advantage of coming here to start something. And from what I understand, you don’t need a lot of money to to kick this thing off, right?

Jess: Correct. Our scholarships do start at $40,000 for a fully-endowed scholarship where they get to set forth all the criteria for that scholarship. So, that’s at $40,000. But I mean we have scholarships right now…there was one that was just set up in a memorial and they asked for memorial gifts to come in and already it’s climbed to almost $17,000 in just a matter of a week. So, I know that number seems high right now, but there are so many different ways to give that to get to 40 is honestly, I mean that they could do that in a matter of months.

Dan: But what a gift to leave.

Jess: Absolutely, yes.

Dan: You know, you just talked about Kelly Epperson, she’s going to be on a broadcast in just a little while. You did mention that she and her family started this scholarship in memory of her late husband. How does something like that happen? Did she know to come here?

Jess: Yes, so she was I think introduced to the Community Foundation through another one of our donors, who has a scholarship here. He had given to other scholarships for many years and then set up his own scholarship here. And then she came in and she met with me and actually the other person in our team, Rick Fernandez, he’s the one who coordinates this other scholarship that I was talking about. So she met with us and it was a very informal conversation. I mean, what are your goals? What are you looking to do with the scholarship? We just told her a lot about what we do and how we manage the funds and how we would award the scholarships. So it;s just really kind of an informal meeting where we got together and then, at that point in time, I think she decided to start the fund, okay let’s get serious, what do I need to do? And that’s when we brought in Joe Carter to talk kind of about the giving options. And so, yeah, just kind of an informal conversation to start with and it was an introduction from another donor.

Dan: You know, we’re really fortunate. We live in more of an urban city here, Oklahoma City, but you know, there’s a lot of students living in rural areas. I want to kind of talk a little bit about some of those students.

Jess: We have incredible opportunities for rural students. I’m a rural kid myself, town of 300 people and, honestly, if I would have known about the Community Foundation, we have a scholarship here called the Carolyn Watson [Opportunity] Scholarship, it would have been completely life-changing. The scholarship now is $12,000 per year for four years, I mean, that’s huge.

Dan: Yeah, that’s pretty significant.

Jess: Yeah, I mean if you’re talking about some of the state schools here, colleges, universities, typically, their cost of attendance is anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000, so if we’re talking $12,000, that’s a huge chunk right there. And the GPA requirements are about 3.0, so that’s pretty obtainable for students once they get to college. And then we just provide program support, too. So if they’re having questions they can contact me, too. I can definitely kind of help give them my perspective. Again, I’m a rural kid, too, so they can reach out to me and I’m happy to give them recommendations. We had a student last year who went to the University of Oklahoma and she’s looking into journalism and I was really familiar with the department there and so I was able to connect her to Student Services there. So it’s just things like that, that is a unique thing. We’re not just giving the money but we’re also helping to provide advice to those students if they need it.

Dan: I’m glad you talked about the Carolyn Watson [Opportunity] Scholarship because we’re going to be talking to two of the recipients in today’s show. Jess, is there anything else that we need to know about scholarships… students wanting to apply, parents wanting to get their students to apply… What else can we do to encourage kids to know more about the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and to consider us as an organization when applying?

Jess: I would encourage students, parents, guidance counselors just to make the connection. I know we go out and we promote as much as we can but if they have questions about anything, we have a really highly specialized staff in scholarships that can help answer any questions they have. They can go on to her website, it’s really thorough, they can read about it on our website. But if they want to just make a connection, talk to somebody and talk through their ideas, absolutely do that and I would always encourage that. And then, I mean, the other thing is, for students, I’d say, apply. I mean, this past year we had close to about 5000 applications in our system and it’s open to students from across the entire state and like I said, we’re awarding about 800 students per year, so if they have a complete application, they’re moving on to the next round and that’s a really good chance of getting a scholarship. You can’t get a scholarship unless you apply, so I just really encourage students to apply and ask questions.

Dan: Well, that’s great. So, look up scholarships. Again,, that’s where you want to go. Well, Jessica, thank you so much for coming back. I know we just had you on the last episode, but again we wanted to talk about scholarships this time and I think you gave us some insight and some knowledge that we probably didn’t get from the last show. So thank you very much.

Jess: Thank you so much, Dan.

Dan: Let’s turn to Kelly Epperson. I want to give our listeners a little bit of information about you and then we’re going to jump into some questions and talk about scholarships. So you started the Epperson Family Scholarship to commemorate your late husband’s death, correct?

Kelly: Mhmm.

Dan: And I know Mr. Epperson was a board member with the Oklahoma Regional Foodbank,he sat on the board of Harding Charter Preparatory High School and you’re honoring him with this Epperson Family Scholarship established through the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. So, for our listeners, this scholarship supports Harding Charter Prep High School graduates, who want to attend college or vocational school.

Kelly: Correct.

Dan: Okay. Let me just start with this. What influenced your decision to honor your husband’s memory with a scholarship?

Kelly: Well my husband is the oldest of seven and he, and all six of his siblings, went to Harding, back when it was the original Harding High School. (Inaudible) And our son also attended Harding Charter Prep and graduated from there and our son started going there in the fall of 2010, no fall of 2009. From the time that he started going to school there and my husband got involved with the board, we talked about setting up a scholarship and the thing that held us back was we never could decide how to determine how we would choose the recipient and so that was the determining factor. But when he passed away, I knew it was something that we talked about doing and it was something he wanted done, so my son I just decided to move forward with it.

Dan: Well I want to stay on the subject of your son. What was your son’s name?

Kelly: Joseph.

Dan: So I understand that Joseph is also a fund advisor, is that correct?

Kelly: Yes.

Dan: Okay. Why was it important to get your whole family involved? When you, you know, basically called it the Epperson Family Memorial Scholarship, why the whole family?

Kelly: I’m hoping, I don’t know that it will happen, but I’m hoping that with it being about the whole family that his brothers and sisters, since they attended there also, will, you know, if they ever can financially contribute to it that, it will be something that’s for all of them and not just for Wayne, even though he’s the primary one right now.

Dan: I mean it can’t get any better than that, right?

Kelly: (laughs) I hope.

Dan: So how did you come up with the criteria for the scholarship recipients?

Kelly: My son and I spent a lot of time talking about it. My husband was able to go to college on the GI bill and his family could not have paid for his college even though back then it was a lot cheaper than it is now. College made a huge difference in what he was able to do in his life and everything. And if my son says, you know, it’s one thing to expect people to pick themselves up by their bootstraps, but if they don’t have any bootstraps, how can they do it? So we decided that we wanted to focus on people that might not qualify for, you know, the full tuition waivers that OU has or have some of the different ones that are all based on academics, because a lot of these students, especially the ones that go to Harding, it’s a difficult high school. And with all the AP classes and everything, some of the kids don’t make straight A’s because they’re having to work while they’re going to school so their grades may not show all the all the things that other students grades do.So, we wanted somebody that that didn’t actually come from a background where their parents were able to afford everything. We decided to try to pick on people that had what it takes to be successful but maybe didn’t start out with such an easy position in life

Dan: You know, I want to talk about the beauty of your scholarship because one of things I read about it was, you know, we have a lot of emphasis, we hear a lot of that from people saying you got to go to college and everybody has to go to college kind of thing. But your scholarships are also available for students who want to go to vocational school, too, is that correct? Let’s talk a little bit about that, because that’s an important factor that nobody wants to talk about and it’s very important that we have as many students that don’t want to go to college attend a voc school. I think that the fact that your scholarship is incredible for both of these two, let’s talk a little bit about that.

Kelly: Well, my husband and I both, my husband has a master’s degree and I have a bachelor’s degree, so we both feel very strongly about the college environment but it’s not the right thing for everybody. And the world will implode if everybody just has those kinds of degrees and, you know, we need people that are mechanics or tile layers are electricians or you know. My son also went to a vocational school and he’s a chef and he loves it and so we wouldn’t have wanted somebody to not be able to get the scholarship because they weren’t following that career path. I think that a lot of people out there wake up every day and they don’t look forward to going to work and so if you have a calling and and your right path for your life is to go to vocational school, you know, we want to help you do that. Whatever it takes.

Dan: That is an incredible scholarship. I hope that all you listeners out there hearing this, if you’re in high school right now and you’re hearing this podcast and you’re not called to go to college, get in touch with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and let’s look into the the Epperson Family Scholarship, because vocational schools are just as important, you’re right. I want to talk a little bit about your current involvement with Harding Charter Prep high school. Tell me a little bit about that.

Kelly: Well my husband served on the governor’s board for nine years, so not just the three years that our son attended school there, but for nine years. And then since he passed away I have started serving on, it’s not really a steering committee, but it’s a committee where we work together to do fundraising for the school. We try to help make sure the school stays aligned with its original intent and everything. We love Harding, we love what it does. I don’t know current statistics, but at one time about 70% of students there qualified for free or reduced lunch, so even though it’s, if it’s not the top-ranked high school in the state, it’s in the top five and it’s very academically challenging but yet they don’t just take the cream of the crop. It’s a charter school, so they have to take whoever. They don’t get to pick and choose and we just truly, truly love the mission of Harding and the difference it makes in these kids’ lives. There are some of these children that, I’m sorry to the high school seniors, you are still children to me, but there are some of them, that, they’ll be the first person to graduate from high school and dinner conversations didn’t include college or vocational or whatever, you know. They just don’t have that background, so that’s what Harding tries to do is to open their eyes and say, you can go to college, you can go to a vocational school, you can do something after you graduate from high school other than just, you know.

Dan: Kelly, that is absolutely admirable. I mean, what an impact that you guys have created with this scholarship and, my gosh, what a legacy to your husband too. You know, one question I always have wondered, you know, when people are donors and they decide that I’m going to start a scholarship whether it’s in memory of somebody or it’s a certain cause that I’m passionate about or something like that. How would you like to see the impact of your scholarship grow over time?

Kelly: I hope that the students that receive this scholarship will always remember that somebody believed in them. When they get into a position that they can help others, that they will, and if they’re ever having moments of self doubt, that they will remember somebody believed in them. When you’re only awarding one scholarship at a time and clearly college has gotten so expensive that you know these scholarships don’t pay for, you know, like a whole semester or anything, but it does make a difference. But just knowing that somebody believed in you is enough to make you keep going another day.

Dan: Now, that this scholarship fund has been set up for these very lucky Harding students, have you had recipients yet?

Kelly: No. We are awarding our first one July 18. Due to Covid, they had to postpone graduation, so at this point, as we’re recording, it should have already been presented but it hasn’t been yet. I do believe that the recipient has been made aware that she’s receiving the scholarship and then my son and I are going to attend graduation and my son is going to present the scholarship to her. We have something to go along with the certificate and everything. And then my hope is through the years, I’ll give each of the six siblings and opportunity to present, and some people want to do that and some people don’t, and so if they don’t want to, then they don’t have to, but it cycles to the next one and then ultimately, once my son and all the siblings have done it, then I’ll present that and then we’ll just start to cycle over. We’re hoping that all the Eppersons will feel a tie to it, and if they don’t that’s fine, too, but we’re hoping that all seven of them, well six remaining, will feel like it includes them as well.

Dan: Well, clearly the Epperson Family has had quite an impact on Harding. I do want to ask you this, when you let them know that you have started the scholarship fund for their graduating seniors, whether they want to go to college or vocational school what was their reaction? I’m just curious to know what their reaction was.

Kelly: Actually, they were the ones that got me in touch with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. My husband passed very unexpectedly, so we had not had time to talk about tributes… he wouldn’t talk to me about that any way, but when I was writing his obituary and letting friends know and everything, you know, in lieu of flowers, we wanted something a little bit longer lasting than flowers. And so, I just knew in my heart that this scholarship was the right thing, so we contacted Harding and we said, hey we want to do this. So people start sending in their donations to the school directly and then they called me and they said, were you wanting this to be a one-time scholarship or in perpetuity and I said, no, I want it to go on and on and on, and they said, we think that you need to get in touch with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Dan: I’m glad they knew about us!

Kelly: Yes! So they have another board member that Wayne actually sat on the board with, who has actually set up a scholarship through OCCF for his mother, honoring his mother. And so he actually came with me the very first time that I met Jessica and they held my hand through the whole process , but I was just so thrilled because I didn’t know.

Dan: You know, the beauty of these scholarships, too, and I want people to know that are listening out there today, it’s not like you need a lot of money to start one of these things. I mean I think our scholarships, you know, you can start small and they, the way we work here, you tend to accrue, you know, the dollars that go into that, so anybody can start something if they’re passionate about it. So, this leads me to this next question which is, what would you tell other donors to encourage them about perhaps starting a scholarship fund?

Kelly: I would tell them, one, that if you do it through OCCF they take care of everything. They take care of the tax reporting, they take care of helping you choose the recipient. It was a very easy process. They help advertise, they help promote it, they help… I mean, I show up. (laughs) They literally did everything and Jessica was absolutely amazing cause I had tons of questions and it was clearly in a time in my life where, even when she answered them, the answers didn’t necessarily stick because there was just, you know, it was like being hit by a train. And she was so patient and so, you know, they literally just take your hand and carry you through.

Dan: It really sounds like you’ve done a marvelous job. You’ve carried out a wish that your husband had, even while he was here, and the fact that he’s probably looking down now going, yep, I knew she could do it. Right? Well that’s exciting. Thank you so much. Very, very happy to have you on the show today.

Kelly: Thank you for inviting me.

Dan: Thank you, Kelly, for being here. Much appreciated.

Dan: You have to speak to students directly in order to fully grasp the kind of life-changing impact a scholarship can have on a young person’s life. 25 years ago Carolyn Watson was the CEO of a company called Shamrock Bankshares. Growing up in a rural community, Carolyn realized early on that students living in towns like hers oftentimes didn’t have the opportunity to attend college. So she made it her mission to start the Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation. Carolyn was a strong believer in the power of education. She established the Carolyn Watson Opportunity Scholarship, which is a four-year scholarship award up to $12,000 per year, offering rural students the chance to follow their dreams and pursue higher education. Recently, we sat down with two former recipients, Michaela Metts and Natalie Evans, so let’s hear from them directly about the impact the scholarship had on their college experience.

Natalie Evans: My name is Natalie Evans, I am a 2013 graduate of Fairview High School.

Michaela Metts: My name is Michaela Metts and I graduated from Durant High School in 2012 and that’s also the year that I was a recipient of the Carolyn Watson Opportunity Scholarship. I am about to complete pharmacy school at the University of Oklahoma at the end of this week.

Dan: By the time this episode is recorded, Michaela is already a graduate, so first of, a big congratulations to you, Michaela. But let’s hear about arguably the most exciting part, how they found out they’ve been awarded the $10,000 prize.

Natalie: So, I remember, whenever I first received news that I’ve been a recipient of the scholarship, I had just gotten home from theatre practice. I was really active in the arts whenever I was in high school. And I remember just, one, the first emotion was relief and then second, excitement. I knew that this was going to be a huge opportunity for me. And I knew that this was going to open a lot of doors for me.

Michaela: I was extremely excited. I remember, I was walking in the hallway, I believe on my way to lunch in high school, when I got the phone call. And so I stopped, took the phone call and I was just elated. I almost did a dance right there in the hallway.

Dan: More than just a nice surprise in the middle of a school day, the scholarship really made a difference for Michaela and Natalie. Designed to remove barriers of entry to rural students, like living costs and other school related expenses, the Carolyn Watson Opportunity Scholarship helps students focus on what’s most important. Here’s what Michaela had to say.

Michaela: I was able to live in the dorms because of the scholarship and that really, really changed my perspective, I feel like, on the whole college experience. Because the college that I went to was actually in my hometown, where I grew up, so I was otherwise going to live at home and I feel like being able to live in the dorms was a good way to become independent. And being able to have a job on campus actually helped me discover that I had a passion for teaching and so right now, I am going into a pharmacy residency in Norman but after that I hope to pursue more training in academia and I’m still not sure what level I want to teach yet, if I want to teach an undergraduate level or if I want to teach pharmacy school but definitely that spark has been there ever since I had that teaching job on campus.

Dan: We asked Michaela and Natalie what they would say to Carolyn Watson, if they had had the chance to meet her.

Natalie: The first thing I would do is give her a hug. Because really, her generosity has shaped the lives of so many students across Oklahoma and it’s opened the doors for so many people and it’s provided so many opportunities. And I truly wouldn’t be where I am today in my career or my education without that opportunity.

Michaela: So if I could speak to Carolyn Watson directly, I would definitely say, thank you so much, for creating this scholarship and for funding it and for making it available to rural applicants like me, because it definitely opened up a lot of opportunities. So I would say the scholarship was very aptly named. It let me explore a lot of different aspects of college and careers that I would not have otherwise.

Dan: So if you want to read more about Michaela and Natalie and other scholarship success stories, I suggest you pick up a copy of our brand new Scholarship Review, where we have told the tales of others that, like Carolyn Watson, have decided to give the gift of education. Thinking of creating your own scholarship? I can assure you, there are plenty more students like Natalie and Michaela out there waiting for their opportunity to pursue their academic dreams.

Creating Impact Through Giving is brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, a nonprofit that works with donors to create charitable funds that benefit our community both now and in the future.

If you want to be notified about future episodes, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter at For all episodes and more information, visit

Thanks for listening today and I’d like to leave you with this: Everybody wants to create some kind of impact in your community – What would you like to do? Contact the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and let us help you turn your legacy into a reality today. See you next time.

Episode 1 Transcript: Discovering Your Charitable Passions

Creating Impact Through Giving Episode 1: Discovering Your Charitable Passions

Dan Martel: You’re listening to Creating Impact Through Giving, a podcast brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation providing you with the stories, techniques, and tools around impactful giving.

On this show, we’ll talk to donors, professional advisors, nonprofit leaders, and our team of experts to identify charitable strategies that have resulted in some of our most impactful gifts.

I’m your host Dan Martel and today we want to kick off this series by introducing some of our experts that will help guide us through this conversation today. Jennifer Meckling, Director of our Charitable Organization Endowment Program – Hi, Jennifer.

Jennifer Meckling: Hi Dan, thanks for having me in.

Dan: Our director of scholarship programs, Jessica Schwager – welcome, Jess.

Jessica Schwager: Thank you so much for having me!

Dan: And Joe Carter, vice president of development here at the Foundation. Joe, welcome. Good to have all of you here. Later in the episode, I’ll introduce you to Nancy Anthony, the president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and we’ll discuss how the organization got started and how it grew over the last 50 years.

So Joe, let me start with you. You’ve been with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation for a number of years and we’re the size of a city block here from 9th to 10th Street and cars drive by this building every day and I bet there are plenty of people that look over and say, “I wonder what those folks do in there.” So, maybe, in a nutshell, Joe, if you could kind of tell us what we do here at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Joe Carter: Well, I would say, if you’re looking at it in a bicycle spoke, there are four spokes to the wheel. What that encompasses is, one, we assist donors, families, corporations in carrying out their philanthropic intent.

Two, we’re one of the state’s largest providers of scholarships, meaning that donors come in and establish a scholarship based on the criteria they set forth.

Three, we are really one of the nation’s largest providers of charitable organization endowment funds, meaning that the nonprofits in the community that wish to have an endowment fund with us, we will manage that for them.

And then lastly, with any unrestricted funds that we may have, we have a grant program in which we provide grants back to the local nonprofits to meet, what I would say, in many cases are gap fillers – areas in which those nonprofits may need additional funding that they’re not getting from their typical donor base. So, they can reach out to us and we’ll fulfill that.

I think the biggest misnomer that we have is – so many people will think that we have a large amount of unrestricted dollars, but really just about everything here is restricted to some particular charitable cause or focus that either the donors or the organizations or the corporations or whoever it may be, have earmarked for future support.

Dan: Fantastic, that’s good to know. So, I want to talk a little bit more about your role, too, so tell me how long you’ve been with the Foundation and tell me what you do here.

Joe: Well, I’ve been here 16 years. The roles have really not changed greatly over the years. Titles have come and gone. So, I’ve been in the nonprofit space for about 30 years, and I came in here to enhance and broaden our relationships with professional advisors, that being attorneys, trust officers, CPAs, really helping them understand what the Community Foundation could assist them in as they help their clients, whether it being in estate planning, tax planning, business planning. Over time, that kind of morphed into planned giving. Planned giving is really the practice of working with donors on estate gifts or helping them understand how they can leave a gift not only to their children but also to charities. So, that essentially allowed me to use the relationships that I built up to turn around and then provide more educational support to them and work with their donors one-on-one for that type of planning service. Few years went by and then I found myself overseeing all of the development activities here at the Foundation, but first and foremost, I’ll always be kind of a donor contact, helping them with strategic plans and providing educational support for both organizations and advisors.

Dan: Excellent, excellent. You know, if you were to tell somebody out there, one of our listeners perhaps might be interested in establishing a fund here or they might be interested in having a scholarship named after them, leave a gift of some sort – where do you even get started? How do you tell folks what to do?

Joe: Well, that’s the beauty of it. We don’t tell anybody what to do; we help them uncover what they’d like to do. And oftentimes, that starts with a conversation of ‘Why are you here?’ And then we really dive into: What are you passionate about? What are causes that you like to support? Are there particular charities that you’ve been involved with in the past? And then that kind of leads us down the road to dig a little bit deeper to find out if they’re wanting to support those organizations now or are they wanting to support those organizations in the future? Are they wanting to make a gift now, or sometime into the future? Is it one charity or is it multiple charities? Is this something they want to do individually or do they want to have their family involved with it? Or is this something they want to have multiple generations involved in?

We are not a fundraising organization, which, I think, that is one thing that separates us from many other organizations. We don’t fundraise at all. Rather than that, we really assist and facilitate a donor’s true passions. So rather than us going out and physically ask for a dollar to support something we’re doing, we’re actually trying to uncover what YOU want to do. And it’s a totally different mindset.

Dan: Oh, that’s really interesting because, obviously, it sounds like you guys can get pretty creative here in determining how somebody perhaps wants to create an impact in the community. So, it’s not really a one-size-fits-all type of approach, is that correct.

Joe: I would say that’s absolutely correct. The one-size-fits-all, that’s the general practice. That’s how a lot of organizations work with their donors: ‘This is what we need as an organization and whether you have a dollar or you have $100,000, we need your support.’ And here we really try to get down to ‘how do YOU want to have the greatest impact?’ And then help and aid them in understanding what kind of impact they can have both in the short run as well as the long run.

Dan: I guess the question I have then, too, is – why OCCF? Why give through us and not through your financial advisor perhaps. Let’s talk a little bit about the difference between here and something else.

Joe: Well, again, I think the thing that separates OCCF from especially larger commercial outfits or financial institutions and so forth is: we are a local charity. The money is here, and oftentimes the money is made here and many of our donors like the fact that the money is going to stay here. And we try to think of ourselves as more than a money manager. Because, in the end of the day, you can go to any financial firm and have them manage your money. But what we try to bring is, we have an excellent staff, a very knowledgeable staff.

Oftentimes, [donors] may have a cause they want to support, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they equate to a particular charity. So they may be interested in animal welfare but they don’t know where and whom to give to. So, in this case, this is where our staff will come in and help them identify various local charities, and/or national depending on their scope, and sit down with them and help them manage that giving. You’re probably not going to find that at a financial institution, as far as your advisor sitting down. They may be interested in your charitable efforts but being able to carry that out in a helpful manner may or may not be there. And often in some of the larger financial firms, they have a call bank. They’re waiting for donors to call in in order for them to write checks and get out. Again, nothing wrong with that. But for those donors that are looking for expertise and a better understanding of where gaps are here in Oklahoma City and some of those organizations that have programming that they may or may not be familiar with, that’s the reason to come in here.

And on the other side, I think one of the things that makes us attractive, not that fees are the end-all-be-all, but in our circumstance, we have really low-cost fees that are associated with the Foundation, so we’re extremely competitive with commercial funds and certainly with other donor-advised platforms.

Dan: Joe, I want to rope Jessica in here now. A large part of what we do here is centered on the specific causes that are near and dear to our donors. Education seems to be something that so many donors care about. Jess, the OCCF has developed one of the largest, independent scholarship programs in the state, what do we need to know about giving and receiving scholarships?

Jess: That’s a great question. Well, when it comes to our scholarship programs like you said, we are the largest independent scholarship provider, so a lot of donors don’t know that. What’s interesting about that is, we have a really great network that we work with to promote our scholarships. Sometimes donors just don’t know how to promote scholarships to students so I think that that’s really unique about us. We have a great network of guidance counselors across the state of Oklahoma that we work really closely with to make sure we get qualified applicants into our system. That’s just kind of a key point about our scholarship program that’s a little unique.

Dan: How many scholarships does the Foundation award every year?

Jess: Yes, so we have over 150 different scholarship funds that we award through an online system every single year, and this past year, we awarded right around 800 scholarship recipients with scholarships. High school and college students can receive our scholarships as well.

Dan: That’s a lot of folks!

Jess: That’s a lot of folks, yeah. (laughs)

Dan: I can imagine that a lot of these students are particularly surprised when they find out they receive a scholarship?

Jess: Oh yeah, all across the board! We send award letters – and this year has been a little bit unique, we sent emails and also did phone calls to notify the students – and I mean, I’ve had reactions from where they started crying about the scholarship, you can hear the excitement. I’ve had one student, I remember she was kind of shaking and she was jumping up and down with her mom and so yeah, all sorts of reactions.

Dan: That is outstanding. So you mentioned that scholarships are available for scholarship students as well. How does that work?

Jess: Yeah. So, we have two kinds of scholarships really. A lot of times, when donors are setting up scholarships, they will be pretty specific in their requirements about where they want the scholarship to go. And for the most part, I was looking at the numbers from last year, we awarded about 50 percent of our scholarships to students in high school. The students have to be graduating high school seniors and they apply during their junior year for these scholarships. And then the other portion of our scholarships are for college students. So, whether they’re at OU, OSU, OCU, UCO – wherever they are, they can apply for scholarships as well.

Dan: You know, one of the things I know that you guys do a lot here at the Foundation, is you award the scholarship recipients with luncheons. Tell a little bit about how that works!

Jess: Yes! Every single year, except for this year sadly, every single year we notify students if they have received one of our Community Foundation Scholars awards or New Opportunities awards. The New Opportunities award is for first-generation students, and then the Community Foundation Scholars award is for students who work really hard with community service. Both of these students have to be from 53 high schools throughout central Oklahoma, so in order to qualify for those particular scholarships, they have to be from those high schools. Once they’re awarded with a scholarship, we work really hard with their guidance counselors to coordinate times for those students to actually come in for a luncheon. We invite donors, the donors get to sit with students, and then we hear from past scholarship recipients, the president of our scholarship committee, so we have all sorts of guests that come in throughout the week. We schedule it over a week because we have about 170 students that will come to this. It is so neat to get to hear each student’s story and just get to honor them in that way.

Dan: I want to back up a second. You mentioned First Gen. Tell me about that, how that works and how special that must be.

Jessica: Yes.

Dan: Tell me about that, and how that works, and how special that must be.

Jessica: I love working with first-generation students. How we define it I think is a little bit different than how other places define it. But for our first-generation scholarship students, parents, nor their grandparents could ever even step foot on college. So they’re brand new to college. The reason for that is we want to then award them and we give them this booklet to complete that really sets them up for success to get to college. Once they complete that booklet, then over the course of their senior year we then award them with a scholarship.

So that booklet includes things like applying for college admission, taking a campus tour, doing some sort of community service component that really makes their application look competitive, and then doing financial aid workshops and FAFSA workshops. So once they do all of those components, then we say, hey, congrats, you completed this book here’s a $2,000 scholarship for when you attend college. So we really hope that that gets them prepared for the actual college experience.

Dan: Fantastic. I can only imagine how some of those students must react when they find out they were awarded the scholarship. That’s exciting. Why do you see such a rising interest in creating scholarships among our donors?

Jessica: That’s a great question. I see interests all across the board with donors, but I think the one main thing is that it leaves a lasting impact on education forever. So if a donor sets up an endowment, we get to honor them or whatever legacy they’d like to leave with a scholarship forever. Long past the time that that donor has passed away we get to leave a legacy for education. I do see a lot of scholarships come in as some sort of like a Memorial type scholarship. A lot of times that’s to honor a loved one who has passed away and then their passion for education as well. I think that’s really neat because it just, every single year we get to honor a new student in memory of that loved one and every year they get to tell the story of that loved one forever. So I think that that’s really a key reason why.

Dan: That’s fantastic. That is excellent to know. What’s something that you look forward to doing about your job and is there a favorite success story that you might have in particular?

Jessica: I would say the one thing I really look forward to every year is going out to college fairs. We get a schedule together, and then we actually get to go out and meet with high school seniors and promote our scholarships and tell them what our scholarship application is all about. I love that interaction with the students. That is absolutely my favorite part. I would say probably if you talk to our team, that’s one of their favorite parts too, is just getting out there and talking to students.

As for success stories. So one thing in addition to working with students is we work with guidance counselors from across the state of Oklahoma. Last year was my first year here. I worked really hard with Rick Fernandez who’s in charge of our Central Oklahoma Guidance Counselor network to produce a summer institute. So what the summer institute is, is that he coordinated with people from Texas, people from all across the state of Oklahoma that are in higher education and admissions. He pulled those people in to then provide a two-day conference with guidance counselors from across the state to just give them extra education when it comes to college admission. So I have to applaud him for…he got all that together and that’s in addition to everything else we have going on. So I think that’s really a success story that we were able to get that together. Talking with him, I think, you know, every couple of years we’ll keep doing that and keep educating people from across the state.

Dan: You know donors are the backbone of what we do and nonprofits play a huge role as well, obviously. I want to bring Jennifer in to talk a little bit about this. So Jennifer, tell me about your role with the foundation and the Charitable Endowment Program that we have here at OCCF.

Jennifer: Sure. Dan, I’ll start with my title. I’m the Director of the Charitable Organization Endowment Program with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. That’s a whole lot of words. So around here, we shorten that to COE. So if I refer to COE, you’ll know what I’m talking about. That’s our Charitable Organization Endowments, and that’s a group of about 370 organizations that have permanent endowments at the community foundation. About a quarter of our holdings are in those endowed funds. So there’s a lot of money that’s going back out into the community every year. It’s about $8 million. So among my roles here is one, making sure that those organizations are operating in an effective and efficient way. Two is helping those organizations build support for those endowments so that those endowments can grow and provide support for even future generations and needs in the community.

Dan: You know it’s funny, we talk a lot about the power of endowment. For our listeners, what exactly does that power mean?

Jennifer: So I think it’d be helpful to start with the basic nuts and bolts of what our endowment program is here. As I mentioned before, these are permanently endowed funds. So that means, like a savings account for an organization that resides here permanently. So that money never goes back out. What we do is we try to grow that fund through investment performance. So we have an investment committee who does a really good job of making sure that those investments have a slow and steady growth pattern so that that money will grow over time. Then each year each organization is given a check for 5% of the market value of that fund. So they get a little bit of money each year and that fund continues to grow. So the growth comes from that reinvestment and that compound interest is really where the magic of investment comes from.

You know, it reminds me of the adage. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. Well, the best time to start an endowment fund is about 20 years ago. The second best time is now. This is a gift that a Board or staff or donors can leave to the community and to the organization and they can plan for that future. The best way to illustrate it really, I think is a good example. I’ll use some small numbers and we’ll make some assumptions on the investment performance for a fund as just sort of average over this time period.

So if I, as a donor gave your organization $500 a year for 20 years that would equal…

Dan: I’m not good at math Jennifer. So I’m going to let you fill in that number.

Jennifer: That’s about $10,000 over 20 years. So that’s $10,000. I think anybody would consider that a fantastic gift.

Dan: Absolutely.

Jennifer: Now, if we choose to give that in a different way, if instead of taking that $500 each year, and we put that into an endowment fund, as opposed to, into operational funds. That $500 a year into an endowment operating the way that our endowments do here, the same amount of money giving $10,000, at $500 a year. That total impact would be about $20,000. So that’s made up of about $13,000 in the market value of the fund that’s grown over time. That organization will have gotten about $6,400 in that 5% check every year. So that $10,000 versus $20,000 for the same amount of money being given. I can do even better than that, that same $10,000 given all at once at the beginning of that 20 years if that was invested in the same way. So given at the beginning of the 20 years, matured over time, that same $10,000 would have yielded over $31,000.

Dan: Wow.

Jennifer: So that’s made up of that 5% distribution over $13,000 and the fund itself will be worth over 18,000.

Dan: Well, and again, we go back to, you know, the title of our podcast that does indeed create quite an impact. You know, you mentioned you’ve worked with, or the OCCF works with 360 plus nonprofits. You’re obviously talking to a lot of people every day. What’s your favorite thing about working with all these different nonprofits?

Jennifer: Well, I’d like to say if you’ve seen one nonprofit, you’ve seen one nonprofit, they’re all different. That’s one of the things that I enjoy so much about it. We have everything from small organizations that have no paid staff up to universities and hospitals. So everyone that I deal with has a different story. They have different passions and they have different concerns in the community and they’re trying to meet those concerns in different ways. So I just enjoy the variety of it and the way that we can help them in different ways. I really feel that if I can empower someone, whether that’s a donor board or staff to meet their own charitable goals in some way that the whole community can count that as

Dan: You know, one of the things that I’ve certainly learned since I’ve been here is that we do a lot of educational-type events to bring people in, to kind of teach them a little bit about what we do and sort of get them involved that way. What are some of the things that you do for nonprofits in the community?

Jennifer: We have several series of workshops in normal times that we run here at the Community Foundation. One is called the Seeds of Planned Giving. That’s a series that Joe Carter has been heading up for several years. That goes into all the different plan giving vehicles that donors and nonprofits can take advantage of to build their fund. There are a lot of tax-advantageous gifts that people can give out there and a lot of really complicated things that people can learn. But if we learn some small little bits of it, we can attract some of those gifts from those generous donors and they can do it in a strategic way. So that series is all about all those different ways that we can give strategically toward a better community.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve also added in a new series called Focus on Endowment, and that’s really taking that focus, even though we are talking about Planned Giving it’s taking the focus back to actually investing that in our endowments. And seeing that endowment as a tool that we have, not only to encourage donors to give in a strategic way, but it’s something that we’ll be giving to our organization, to our community forever. Especially in times like these, when things are a little bit uncertain, we know that we can count on that endowment fund to continue to give us that support year after year.

Dan: That is excellent. I’m just curious to know, have you had nonprofits after attending one of these events, have you had some of them call and say I’m in.

Jennifer: Absolutely. I had somebody call me and say, I’ve never been excited about fundraising before, and this excites me because I can help a donor give in a really strategic way that will have a real lasting impact.

Dan: Fantastic. Everybody has something that has really touched them along the way. Do you have a favorite endowment success story?

Jennifer: I actually do. Anyone who’s been to any of my workshops has probably heard me talk about it because it is such a wonderful story. There’s a small organization that is volunteer only and they’re made up of volunteers from across the state. So they’re rather loosely knit and they started their endowment fund about 10 years ago with an initial gift of $12,000. In those 10 years, their fund has grown to 10 times that, and that is just through persistently applying for matching funds through the Kirkpatrick family fund. They’ve managed to grow their fund over that time. That’s with, as I said, no paid staff at all. So if they can do it, anybody can do it.

Dan: Now I want to introduce our listeners to Nancy Anthony, president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Nancy, your name is synonymous with this foundation. You mentioned to me at one point that you’ve done every job here, including preparing meals for the staff, which I think is fantastic. I’d like to share with our listeners a little history of the foundation. So how did this all get started?

Nancy: Community Foundations have existed in the States since about 1908. So in about 1969, John Kirkpatrick, who was an oilman in Oklahoma City, a very generous philanthropist really wanted to figure out how to encourage other people to make gifts and to do things. So he did some research with an attorney here in town and they discovered that there were these community foundations that had existed and they kind of came out of bank trust departments. Years ago bank trust departments would have these charitable funds that had been left for their care, but they didn’t necessarily know how to use the dollars. So they put together community committees and those community committees became community foundations.

So the community foundation was designed to make it easy for people to make contributions, or just as importantly to maybe leave money in their estate to support things that they were interested in and especially to support the community in general. Mr. Kirkpatrick was 62 in 1969. So it wasn’t like he was looking for, you know, a brand new idea, but for him to have started something as significant as he did when he was 62 years old was really, it’s really kind of an interesting story, but he stayed with it for a long, long time. He did a lot of things to encourage people to make contributions. He worked with the bank trust departments initially, to encourage their customers to think about the possibility of either establishing a fund or leaving a bequest in their estate. So it’s kind of taken off from there.

Dan: You know, one question I have is I know that this foundation is one of the largest providers for scholarships in the state too. How did that happen? And how did that grow so quickly?

Nancy: Well, scholarships are something that many donors really understand. So there were a couple of initial people who wanted to set up scholarship funds, which the community foundation did. One of the very first ones was Edward Gaylord, who was the publisher of the Oklahoman at that time. So in his estate, he left a very nice gift. Then we had another gift from a lady named, Willie Elizabeth Shipley. So those were two very nice gifts that we were able to start a scholarship fund, but the biggest impact of the scholarship fund came after the bombing of the Murrah building in 1995 when the Community Foundation took over a number of scholarship funds that were established for the benefit of children who lost a parent, especially one that was established by the governor of Oklahoma.

So that really was a very significant increase in our scholarship activity. But what it did was give us the opportunity to say, hey, we’re able to support and to administer scholarships, are there other people who would want to do that? So since that time, it really has taken off primarily because we have the staff support to administer scholarships. They’re very labor-intensive, you have to work at it. Because we had enough of a basis for doing it as a result of those initial gifts and then as a result of working with the survivors’ fund, then the scholarship program has really exploded.

Dan: You know, I was talking to Joe earlier on the show and one of the things that’s very unique to this foundation is just how creative one could get in terms of establishing a fund or something like that. How do we work with donors and, you know, what do we do to encourage them to kind of be creative in their gift leaving, if you will?

Nancy: I think it’s interesting when people are willing to be creative. More frequently than not, they think that they have to leave money for a particular organization or a particular charity, but when they really think about what they would really like to do, the best story that I know of that is Margaret Annis Boyes, who hadn’t had any heirs, had no brothers and sisters, had no one to leave her funds to and went to her trust officer at the bank. He said, what do you want to do? She said, well, I guess I’ll have to give it to the university or give it to the church. He said, well what would you really like to do? And she said, I’d really like to beautify Oklahoma City, the parks and the natural beauty of the community. He said, I think I know a way that might be able to help you to do that.

And he was familiar with the Community Foundation because he had worked with Mr. Kirkpatrick. That has created just one of the most incredible opportunities for us to take her words, to take her ideas, and then put a program around it that really uses those dollars efficiently and really has made an incredible impact in the community. It was a large gift at the time, but in terms of the impact that it has had to attract other dollars and to attract other interest, it’s really been important. But a lot of that just came from her creativity and her willingness to think about what she would really like to do.

Dan: Fantastic. When you arrived here, you’ve been at the foundation for 30 years, ish, somewhere around there.

Nancy: At least.

Dan: Okay. What do you see as the most significant change over the last 50 years since Mr. Kirkpatrick started this foundation?

Nancy: At the time I started, many of our donors were still alive and we were working with a lot of organizations and a lot of endowment funds and a lot of very fixed distributions of things. Since that time, a lot of the donors of the funds that have come in here have come from people after they’ve passed away. So there’s less donor involvement and many of those kinds of things, but we are able to then take the donor’s wishes and then try to implement those in the community. I think that expansion of the ability of the community foundation to actually address the current community needs based on information that donors might have left, whether it was about healthcare or about children or about education, but taking those interests and say, well, how would you do that now in Oklahoma City?

Dan: You know one of the questions I wanted to ask. There’s a sort of spontaneity that tends to happen sometimes depending on weather or different circumstances. The foundation seems to be so equipped and quick to act on if we have a disaster of sorts. How does that work?

Nancy: I think that’s a very significant role that the Community Foundation has established in the community, to be able to serve an immediate need. If you think about other organizations in the community who are very well situated to do specific things, whether it’s the Red Cross or the hospital, or the Boy Scouts they know how to do very things, but to be able to respond into a variety of issues is kind of what our opportunity is to be able to work with donors to respond right now. Frequently we go on and work with other organizations to actually accomplish that, but that flexibility that we have to actually take dollars and put them together with other people and then accomplish a mission depending on what the need is probably one of the real assets that we bring to the community that probably just unique to what we do because we don’t operate any specific programs. We work with donors to try to accomplish what they want to.

Dan: Where do you see the foundation going in the future?

Nancy: I think that there are lots of people now that understand that whatever gifts they have or resources they have can really be impactful over the long term. They can be very thoughtful about that and can think through how they might want that to happen. Then they can set those kinds of things up with the expectation that others going forward can administer those things based on some general guidelines, like a Margaret Annis BoysTrust. I mean, we don’t do orchestras with the Margaret Annis Boys Trust, we plant trees because that’s what she wanted to do, but we know where to plant the trees and how to plant them and how to do that well. I think the opportunity to work with people about doing things beyond their lifetime, but yet is still within keeping is probably the thing that is most inspiring.

Dan: Fantastic. I think you’ve given us a good rundown on some of the history and what happens here at the foundation. So thank you very much. It looks like that’s all the time we have left for this episode. I want to thank today’s guests, Joe Carter, Jennifer McLean, Jessica Schwager, and of course, Nancy Anthony.

Creating Impact Through Giving is brought to you by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, a nonprofit that works with donors to create charitable funds that benefit our community both now and in the future. For all episodes and more information visit

Thanks for listening today. I’d like to leave you with this. Everybody wants to create some kind of impact in your community. What would you like to do? Contact the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and let us help you turn your legacy into a reality today. See you next time.