Community Foundation Awards Sustainability Grant to the Door Community Auditorium

The Door County Community Foundation has awarded the Door Community Auditorium a sustainability grant from the Ruth and Hartley Barker Memorial Fund. This grant a ticketing and data management software upgrade.

“The Door Community Auditorium is the peninsula’s year-round’ venue for performing arts, entertainment, cultural and educational activities,” said Kacie Mueller, Community Relations Officer of the Door County Community Foundation. “From national touring acts, to community partnerships and school events, DCA serves as a center to enrich and entertain the community. We are pleased to provide this grant to support a software upgrade for a wonderful organization.

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Pictured, from left to right are Alan Kopischke, Production Manager of DCA, Kacie Mueller, Community Relations Officer of the Door County Community Foundation, and Cari Lewis, Executive Director of DCA.

Home of unforgettable experiences, Door Community Auditorium (DCA) is Door County’s year-round venue for performing arts, entertainment, cultural and educational activities. DCA is recognized as a 501(c)3 organization and supported by Door County visitors and residents through ticket sales, sponsorship, membership and volunteer labor. For more information on the Door Community Auditorium, please visit http://www.dcauditorium.com

The Door County Community Foundation’s Sustainability Grants program distributes grant dollars from funds such as the Arts Fund, Children & Youth Fund, Green Fund, Health & Human Needs Fund, Education Fund, Historic Preservation Fund, Healthy Water Fund, and Women’s Fund.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s services and various grant programs, please visit www.GiveDoorCounty.org.

The Door County Community Foundation, Inc. is a collection of separate charitable funds set up by individuals, families, non-profit organizations, private foundations and businesses that are managed, invested and disbursed for the current and future good of Door County. The Community Foundation was launched in 1999, currently administers more than $22 million in assets, and distributes nearly $2 million to charities in Door County every year.

 

Community Foundation Awards Sustainability Grant to the Wisconsin Humane Society

The Door County Community Foundation has awarded the Wisconsin Humane Society- Door County Campus. a sustainability grant from the Bernice and Gene Hawkins Charitable Fund. This grant supports animal vaccines and veterinary medical expenses for homeless, abused, and unwanted companion animals in Door County.

“The Wisconsin Humane Society vaccinates all animals upon admittance to the shelter, which provides protection against potentially fatal illness to animals with unknown histories,” said Rob Davis, Board Members of the Door County Community Foundation. “We are pleased to support the Humane Society and the services they provide.”

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Pictured, from left to right are Rob Davis, Board Member of the Door County Community Foundation, Puma, a cat currently available for adoption, Kellie Delveaux, Philanthropic Advisor, and Dan Miller, Shelter Operations Manager, both of the Door County Campus of the Wisconsin Humane Society.

Founded in 1879, the Wisconsin Humane Society has been saving the lives of animals in need for nearly 140 years. WHS is a 501(c)(3) organization and operates animal shelters in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Door and Brown Counties, as well as a spay/neuter clinic in West Allis. WHS annually serves 40,000 animals.

For more information on the Wisconsin Humane Society, please visit www.wihumane.org.

The Door County Community Foundation’s Sustainability Grants program distributes grant dollars from funds such as the Arts Fund, Children & Youth Fund, Green Fund, Health & Human Needs Fund, Education Fund, Historic Preservation Fund, Healthy Water Fund, and Women’s Fund.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s services and various grant programs, please visit www.GiveDoorCounty.org.

The Door County Community Foundation, Inc. is a collection of separate charitable funds set up by individuals, families, non-profit organizations, private foundations and businesses that are managed, invested and disbursed for the current and future good of Door County. The Community Foundation was launched in 1999, currently administers more than $22 million in assets, and distributes nearly $2 million to charities in Door County every year.

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A Wisconsin Dad

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I embarked upon a circle tour of much of the State of Wisconsin. My lovely wife Cari had to work that day thus she dispatched me to fetch our three children from college so they’d all be home for Thanksgiving. The day began early in the morning as I set out from Door County and drove south to UW-Milwaukee to pick up our sophomore there. Next I headed west for our freshman at UW-Madison. Then I ventured northwest to grab our senior at UW-La Crosse before finally turning east and traveling across the entire state to return home to Door County. My little tour took about 11 hours.

Of course, I had to repeat the entire trip just four days later as I returned our three children to their respective colleges. I didn’t mind it in the least.

My wife likes to refer to me as a walking enigma because I often do things that are difficult to understand. For instance, I love collecting hats, yet, I rarely wear them for very long. I love the way hats look but I don’t particularly like the feeling of them on my head. Hey, I’m a conundrum.

During those two recent circle tours of the State of Wisconsin I brought along my newest favorite hat, a baseball cap that I recently purchased at the UW-Madison bookstore. Purple is my preferred color, but I enthusiastically bought this bright badger red hat because it reads “Wisconsin Dad.” As I said before, I can’t tolerate the feel of a hat on my head for very long so the cap spent most of the drive sitting on the dashboard, staring me in the face.

Those two long days in the car gave me sore shoulders and an aching neck, but it also gave me the gift of time with my children. Whenever my kids return home, they have places to go and people to see. There are younger siblings, old high school friends, grandparents and countless others all competing for their attention. But for two days isolated in my car, I had my children – these delightful young adults – all to myself. I am so grateful for that time.

Of course, the kids probably didn’t see it quite that way. They know how long the drive will be and are always in a hurry to arrive at their destination. My children, like most people their age, are focused on themselves. That is only natural. College is the time in your life that you imagine your professional future and embark on the path to realizing the vision you have for yourself. At that age you’re supposed to be thinking about yourself because you’re working hard to build the self that you want to be.

I know our children are grateful, at least intellectually, for what my wife and I do for them. They are thankful that I drive them to and from college, that their mother and I write checks for their tuition, and we deposit money into their bank accounts so they can pay their rent. But when you’re young and focused on yourself, it’s hard to viscerally appreciate a sacrifice someone else makes for you. When you’ve experienced so little, and are still so concerned with starting your life, it’s difficult to truly understand gratitude.

Even early into adulthood, I don’t think that we humans understand gratitude very well. Getting that first real job, buying a house, paying your own bills – these things are about independence. Distilled down to its essence, the quest for independence is a desire to avoid being dependent on anyone other than yourself. Inherent in gratitude is the recognition that as much as you might try to avoid it, you’ll always need to depend on other people one way or another. That’s a hard to concept to grasp when you’re young.

Gratitude is a puzzling thing. It’s not an automated response to people who’ve done something kind for you. Instead, the seeds of deep and authentic gratitude are planted in your soul when you make a sacrifice for another. It’s when you experience the burden that comes from willingly accepting the mantle of responsibility for another that you can truly appreciate when someone does the same for you.

Goodness knows you don’t need to have children to understand gratitude, but for me it was only when I became a father – when I made the explicit promise to carry my children’s burdens along with my own – that I truly felt gratitude for those who’ve helped me. It was then that I finally understood what it meant to be responsible for another and it made me deeply grateful for those in my life who accepted some responsibility for me.

That’s why I love my “Wisconsin Dad” hat. I love being a Dad. I love living on Wisconsin’s thumb. But it’s more than that. It’s a reminder that like a father, I’ve accepted the mantle of responsibility for the things I love – for my children, for my little corner of Wisconsin that is Door County. Thankfully, I’m neither unique nor alone. For my children, I joyfully share that responsibility with my wife, our family, and many friends. For Door County, there are countless other people and organizations that work even harder than I do to care for this community we love.

I’m very pleased to display my Wisconsin Dad hat.

Of course, if I could find a “Door County Dad” cap, I might actually wear that one. Especially if it’s purple.

This column, written by Door County Community Foundation President and CEO  Bret Bicot, originally appeared in the Peninsula Pulse

Door County Community Foundation Awards Grant to HELP of Door County

The Door County Community Foundation has HELP of Door County a Sustainability Grant from the Ruth & Hartley Barker Memorial Fund and the Bernice & Gene Hawkins Charitable Fund. This grant supports HELP of Door County’s Hotline Program.

HELP of Door County provides services and programs throughout the Door County Peninsula to victims of domestic abuse. They work to improve the well-being and dignity of individuals, families, and intimate relationships. The hotline provides free, confidential services to domestic violence victims at any time and any place in Door County.

“Last year, HELP of Door County fielded 588 hotline calls,” said Kacie Mueller, Community Relations Officer of the Door County Community Foundation. “No two domestic violence relationships look exactly alike. The highly trained advocates at HELP deal with unique situations every time they receive a call with the primary goal of ensuring domestic violence victims are safe. We are hopeful these funds will help achieve that goal.”

HELP of Door County provides services and programs throughout the Door County Peninsula to victims of domestic abuse. HELP works to improve the well-being and dignity of individuals, families, and intimate relationships. They do this by supporting and enhancing their strengths to reduce the incidence of violence and conflict within their relationships. HELP does not provide counseling but they are here to listen without judgment, support without blaming, and empower victims through advocacy and information. All victim services are free and confidential. For more information about HELP of Door County, please call 920-743-8785 or visit http://www.helpofdoorcounty.org

The Door County Community Foundation’s Sustainability Grants program distributes grant dollars from funds such as the Arts Fund, Children & Youth Fund, Green Fund, Health & Human Needs Fund, Education Fund, Historic Preservation Fund, Healthy Water Fund, and Women’s Fund.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s services and various grant programs, please visit http://www.GiveDoorCounty.org.

The Door County Community Foundation, Inc. is a collection of separate charitable funds set up by individuals, families, non-profit organizations, private foundations and businesses that are managed, invested and disbursed for the current and future good of Door County. The Foundation was launched in 1999 and currently administers more than $20 million in charitable assets.

Women’s Fund Awards Sustainability Grant to YMCA

The Women’s Fund of Door County has awarded the Door County YMCA a Sustainability Grant. This grant will allow 5th grade girls to participate in Girls Night Out.

Girls Night Out is a 9-week program created and designed to help 5thgrade girls successfully navigate what can be a challenging phase in their lives and make it a positive and healthy experience. Participants were involved in hands-on activities that helped them to understand and make their way through the social, emotional, and physical challenges that lie before them, as well as explore the benefits of healthy choices that include nutrition, physical activity, and building emotional resiliency.

“As in every community, there is a need to help girls understand and prepare for the changes that occur within themselves emotionally, and around them, while transitioning into their teenage year,” said Jennifer Moeller, Chair of the Women’s Fund of Door County. “We are pleased to provide this grant for Girls Night Out so the YMCA can effectively tackle the major changes and issues that 5th-grade girls face in daily life.”

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The mission of the Door County YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all through program centers located in Fish Creek and Sturgeon Bay.  The Door County YMCA touches the lives of more than 7,800 individuals annually and seeks to strengthen the foundation of our community by providing people of all ages with the resources and solutions for healthy living, youth development and social responsibility.

For more information regarding the Door County YMCA, please call (920) 743-4949 or visit www.doorcountyymca.org.

The Door County Community Foundation’s Sustainability Grants program distributes grant dollars from funds such as the Arts Fund, Children & Youth Fund, Green Fund, Health & Human Needs Fund, Education Fund, Historic Preservation Fund, Healthy Water Fund, and the Women’s Fund.

For more information about the Community Foundation’s services and various grant programs, please visit www.GiveDoorCounty.org.

The Door County Community Foundation, Inc. is a collection of separate charitable funds set up by individuals, families, non-profit organizations, private foundations and businesses that are managed, invested and disbursed for the current and future good of Door County. The Community Foundation was launched in 1999, currently administers more than $22 million in assets, and distributes nearly $2 million to charities in Door County every year.

The Virtuous Circle of Gratitude

“We believe that we have established a rather easily implemented strategy for improving one’s level of well-being,” write Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough. “Our results provide some important findings that have not been reported in the empirical literature on happiness. There do appear to exist benefits to regularly focusing on one’s blessings.”

Using the dry and understated language of legitimate academic research, Emmons and McCullough demonstrated what poets, philosophers and the religions of the world have long known to be true. Thankfulness, counting your blessings, taking note of life’s simple pleasures – regardless of what you call it, approaching life with a spirit of gratitude has a real and deeply positive impact on our well-being.

Put more simply, we can now scientifically document that being thankful makes people happier and more resilient. It strengthens relationships, improves health and reduces stress.

Even more importantly, there is not merely a correlation between being grateful and a happier life. A causal relationship exists. Deliberately contemplating and valuing the positive things in your life has been shown to lead to higher levels of happiness and well-being.

These are just a few of the conclusions that Emmons and McCullough summarized their first extensive research on the subject in 2003, Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. In the decade and a half since its original publication, their research at the University of California – Davis and the University of Miami, respectively, continues to turn the spiritual practice of counting one’s blessings into practical actions which have been scientifically demonstrated to have a positive effect on our health and well-being.

Emmons and McCullough conclude that gratitude has two primary benefits. First, it strengthens our social ties and the natural benefits that flow from them. Second, gratitude increases one’s sense of personal worth.

One of my favorite concepts about the power of gratitude is what Emmons and McCullough refer to as the “upward spiral” that results from counting one’s blessings. “The experience of gratitude, and the actions stimulated by it, build and strengthen social bonds and friendships,” write the researchers. “Moreover, encouraging people to focus on the benefits they have received from others leads them to feel loved and cared for by others. Therefore, gratitude appears to build friendships and other social bonds. These are social resources because, in times of need, these social bonds are wellsprings to be tapped for the provision of social support.”

The remarkable simplicity of this idea is perhaps exceeded only by the profoundness of its implications. When we deliberately pause to reflect on those people who have been kind to us, we tend to be generous with others in return. That creates a virtuous circle in which generosity begets gratitude, which then results in additional generous acts. This is how relationships and friendships are built. Those friendships then become a resource upon which we can rely when faced with challenges in life.

Further, gratitude is the natural reaction of someone being kind to us. Pondering gratitude makes us feel valued and loved. Ultimately, that helps us conclude that we have value and are worthy of love.

“Gratitude, thus, is a form of love,” write Emmons and McCullough, “a consequence of an already formed attachment as well as a precipitating condition for the formation of new affectional bonds.”

Since their original research, Emmons has gone on to found the Journal of Positive Psychology and is the author of several books on the science of gratitude. He is now considered the world’s leading scientific expert on psychology of gratitude. Emmons offers several simple practices that we can all adopt to help us strengthen our own sense of gratitude.

Be deliberate. Simply making a personal vow to count your blessings every day can have a profound impact on your outlook toward life. Emmons suggests that you post a sign next to your bed so that you ask yourself “what are you grateful for today?” Make a conscious decision to spend a few minutes every day thinking about the good things in your life.

Go through the motions. If we emphasize the physical actions and behaviors that are associated with gratitude, the emotional triggers will eventually follow. In other words, Emmons suggests you smile at the people you meet. Write a thank you note when someone is kind to you. Say “thank you” regularly. Even if we’re not feeling it 100 percent of the time, going through the motions helps develop the emotional response of being truly thankful.

Write it down. The first and perhaps most effective way Emmons recommends to become more grateful is to take a few minutes every night and jot down a few of the gifts, benefits, blessings and other good things that happened to you that day. It’s easy to identify the enormous events in our life for which we are thankful. Emmons suggests that you recall the moments of gratitude you felt throughout the ordinary activities of the day.

At the center of gratitude is humility. It is the recognition that we all are the beneficiaries of other people’s generosity. It might be direct and explicit, such as when a friend offers emotional support during a time of need. It also could be indirect and distant, as with the soldier who died on a battlefield long ago to protect the freedoms we now enjoy. Every day the world is filled with countless generous acts of goodness, love and kindness. I am so deeply grateful for that.

 

This article was written by Bret Bicoy, President and CEO of the Door County Community Foundation, and originally appeared in the Peninsula Pulse. 

The Impending Decline in Charitable Giving

Things are about to get difficult in the charitable world. As a direct result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018, charitable giving is expected to decrease by about five percent.

The new tax law enacted by Congress last fall effectively doubles the standard deduction, thereby dramatically reducing the number of taxpayers that will be able to itemize their deductions. It’s projected that 21 million families will no longer be able to claim an income tax deduction for any gifts they make to charity.

Now I’m not here to judge the worthiness of the new tax law. An argument can be made that increasing the standard deduction has benefits that outweigh the costs, but I’ll save that debate for another column. Whether you believe the change to the tax code was good or bad for America, it is now the law of the land. Those of us who care about the people served by the charities of our community need to prepare for the impact of that law.

Regardless of your political persuasion, everyone agrees that incentives matter. Because far fewer Americans will be able to itemize their deductions, the new tax law effectively increased the cost of a charitable gift by 8 percent, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. As a result, the Center issued a report that concluded charitable giving will plummet by as much as $20 billion, or more than 6 percent, in 2018.

Of course, many of my conservative friends argue that the Tax Policy Center is filled with liberal “bleeding hearts” that will use any argument they can to oppose tax cuts. So let’s turn instead to a study conducted by a “heartless” conservative think tank that my liberal friends loathe.

The American Enterprise Institute’s stated mission is to foster “limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility,” among other ideas. Alan Viard, a Resident Scholar at the Institute who studies federal tax and budget policy, issued a report earlier this year which concluded, “Charitable giving will face headwinds from the new tax law in 2018. Under the new law, millions of taxpayers will no longer deduct their charitable contributions on their income tax returns, eroding a tax incentive that has long spurred individual giving.”

The conclusion of the conservative American Enterprise Institute is that charitable giving will fall by $17 billion, or about 4 percent.

Hence, the debate is not whether charitable giving will fall as a result of the new tax law. Both liberals and conservatives agree that it will. The only question is by how much. So let’s just split the difference and assume that giving will decline by about 5 percent in 2018. Unfortunately, the early returns are in and they don’t even look that good. Giving is down, and down dramatically by certain measures.

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project has been collecting hard data from the Association of Fundraising Professionals for more than a decade. Each quarter they issue a report measuring trends in the world of charity. In the first quarter of 2018, the total number of donors was down 6.3 percent as compared to the first quarter of 2017. New donors are down by 12 percent.

A critical measure for charities is the new retained donor rate. Like a business that depends on its ability to find new customers, the long-term health of a charity is linked to its ability to both attract and retain new benefactors. The new retained donor rate measures how many first-time donors from the previous year continue to give in the following year. In the first quarter of 2018, the new retained donor rate fell off a cliff, dropping by a whopping 18 percent.

And it doesn’t end there. The repeat retained donor rate is down. The recaptured donor rate is down. The overall year-to-date donor retention rate is down. Only true charitable giving nerds like me actually try to understand what all this stuff means, but it doesn’t take an expert to know that virtually every significant measure being “down” does not bode well for charities and the people they serve.

It also appears that the decline of giving is not spread equally across all nonprofit sectors. Nicholas Duquette, an economist at the University of Southern California, concludes that health care and human service organizations are experiencing the worst of the decline. He also speculates that arts organizations are not being hit as hard. Tragically, it appears that organizations serving the most vulnerable among us are bearing the brunt of this decreasing level of contributions.

While I have nothing more than experience and instinct to back it up, I believe that much of the decrease won’t arrive until 2019. Charitable giving in 2018 continues to be propped up by a disproportionately high rate of contributions from the wealthiest families. The stock market is in the middle of a record bull run. The incredible growth in investment portfolios makes it very attractive to donate highly appreciated stock right now.

The party on Wall Street must eventually come to an end and the market will correct itself. As with bear markets of the past, giving will almost certainly decline as the stock market falls.

Yet the biggest reason I believe 2019 will be even tougher is because the vast majority of Americans likely have no idea that the check they just wrote to their favorite charity won’t be deductible on their tax return. Most regular folks don’t pay a lot of attention to their taxes until spring. They’re not getting tax planning advice on an ongoing basis as wealthier families often do. Many people will receive a rude awakening when they file their taxes in the spring of 2019 and discover that their 2018 charitable gifts are not deductible. When regular people confront that reality, it almost certainly will reduce the amount they choose to contribute in 2019.

Regardless of the timing, both conservative and liberal tax policy experts have arrived at the same conclusion. Giving is declining as a direct result of the new tax law. The charities in our community – and ultimately the people they serve – should get ready because they are in for a bumpy ride ahead.

This article, written by Bret Bicoy, the President and CEO of the Door County Community Foundation, originally appeared in the Peninsula Pulse