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Challenge Accepted

Foundation Exceeds Fundraising Goals

Local Philanthropists Sound the Million Dollar Fundraising Call

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In one of the most successful fundraising initiatives facilitated by Community Foundation of Acadiana (CFA), millions of dollars have been raised in three Acadiana parishes – generating discretionary dollars that will be invested directly into communities – all thanks to a group of generous donors that led the call in a Million Dollar Challenge.

“We’re already working on an additional million for these parishes that met their goals, which is great,” says CFA’s President and CEO Raymond Hebert. “I wish something like this would’ve been done 50 years ago.”

Community Foundation of Acadiana is a philanthropic organization that connects individuals, families, corporations and other entities to the nonprofit organizations, churches or schools that need their support. “Donors will come to us to set up funds that they name and they direct, like scholarship funds or grants to nonprofits or schools,” Hebert says. “Over the last 20 years, we’ve distributed over $160 million dollars in donor-directed grants.”

In addition to those funds that are directed by the donor and given to a specific individual, place or cause, CFA also manages other types of funds, including endowments to Parish Affiliate Foundations – they now have five within their eight-parish footprint. The flagship affiliate, Iberia Foundation, was established in 2007 and has since granted more than $588,000 to benefit the community (more than $1 million in donor-advised funds have been granted to the community, as well). Other Affiliate Foundations followed Iberia, opening in Evangeline, Iberia, St. Landry, St. Mary and Vermilion Parishes.

How It Works

The Iberia Foundation, like other Parish Affiliates, leverages the expertise of CFA, which provides the legal and financial oversight of their fund management, but maintains its own advisory board (made up of community members native or living in Iberia Parish). The board meets regularly to determine the exact recipient(s) of the discretionary funds – the focus being to directly improve the quality of life of the community.

The financial goal for each Affiliate Foundation, according to Hebert, is to grow to a $1 million endowed fund – and three of the affiliates (St. Landry, Iberia and Vermilion) have met, or exceeded, that goal.

Under the umbrella of CFA, each Parish Affiliate has a Permanent (endowment) Fund, comprised of “a family” of Named Permanent Funds, which are set up by individuals, families, companies, and foundations in order to, for example, memorialize or honor a loved one. Collectively these funds are invested and, while the endowed funds are not directly spendable, there is a sizable spending rate (currently 4%) for each affiliate. So, as an example, an endowed fund of $1 million gives the respective advisory board approximately $40,000 in discretionary dollars to invest in the community however it chooses.

Million Dollar Challenge

It’s not quite a double-dog dare, but it’s a lofty challenge nonetheless. In 2019 the William C. Schumacher Family Foundation and the Meyers Family Foundation, each having a special connection to St. Landry Parish, offered a challenge to CFA: together the two entities would put up $500,000 total, if CFA could go out into the community and raise an additional $500,000 for its St. Landry Foundation Affiliate. After nearly a year, CFA met that challenge, and the St. Landry Foundation now has north of $1 million in their Permanent Fund.

The success of the St. Landry initiative led to two additional million dollar challenges in Iberia and Vermilion Parishes. In Iberia, with a goal of establishing a Permanent Fund for their own community of at least $1 million, Dr. Kip and Carolyn Schumacher, Jerry and Beverly Shea, Stewart and Becky Shea, and the Donald J. Voorhies Charitable Foundation each committed $100,000 (total $400,000) to match another $400,000 in commitments to Named Permanent Funds. That goal was met in six months, and now the Fund has been endowed for nearly $1.2 million.

“When Iberia Foundation was given this incredible opportunity to raise additional dollars for the Iberia Parish Permanent fund, it seemed like a daunting challenge to go out into our community to get the fund over a million dollars,’’ recalls Iberia Foundation advisory board chair Angela Cestia. “I am excited about how fast our community came together to make this happen. Our community saw the good that can come from this endeavor to bring positive change for Iberia Parish. Great things are going to happen for our parish because of the generous people that love Iberia parish.”

In Vermilion Parish, again in response to the success of previous challenges and with a special connection to her own community, Phyllis M. Taylor offered a $500,000 Challenge Grant to CFA and the Vermilion Foundation to go out and raise an additional $500,000. Astonishingly, in less than three months 100% of that goal has been met, bringing the Permanent Fund in Vermilion to $1.2 million.

New Iberia native Jerry Shea, Jr., who serves as CFA chairman (alongside fellow New Iberian Jason Freyou, who serves as vice-chair), has his eye toward growth this year and is excited to see the success of the programs. “My main goal as chair of CFA for 2021 was to work to increase the permanent funds in our eight-parish area,” says Shea. “These are important tools for each parish.

Each affiliate board is charged with expending the earnings of the permanent funds to worthy charities and causes in their parish. I am thrilled that in 2021 two of our affiliates, Iberia and Vermilion, have joined St. Landry in achieving their $1,000,000 goals.”

Regional Commitment

CFA’s goal is to have an active Affiliate Foundation in all eight Acadiana parishes with Permanent funds of at least $1 million to help grow and enhance the quality of life throughout the region. “You can give to your church, you can give to a school, you can give to a non-profit. And there’s nothing wrong with that and everything right about that. But what we’re offering is you can give to your community long after you’re gone,” Hebert says. “It’s a permanent funding mechanism for the community you love.”

There are some 750 or so community foundations around the country, and all of them claim a geographical footprint – some for a city, some for a county, some for a region. “What we are doing differently is that we are actually in those parishes we represent. We are actually creating those affiliates and personally inviting those donors,” Hebert says. “While our office is in Lafayette, our eight-parish footprint matters to us. We are not exclusive to Lafayette; we work to be a true regional organization.”

If you’d like more information about any of the Affiliate Foundations, or if you’re interested in helping to establish an Affiliate Foundation in Acadia, Lafayette or St. Martin parishes, contact Raymond Hebert at rhebert@cfacadiana. org or Nicole Hebert at nhebert@cfacadiana.org. Visit cfaacadiana.org to donate to a fund or to set up one of your own.

2021 Recipients of the Community Foundation of Acadiana Leaders in Philanthropy Awards 

~ Iberia Parish: Larry and Denise Miller

~ St. Mary Parish: Joe and Gina Sanford 

~ Vermilion Parish: John T. and Sandra B. Landry

~ Lafayette Parish: Doug and Claire Ashy, Sr.

~ St. Martin Parish: Bruce and Stacy Montesano

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