JANESVILLE — Dave Pope came to Janesville in 1960 to teach.
“I was the high school science department,” he says.
A few years later, he left to get a medical degree. Dr. Pope practiced medicine in Janesville for 37 years.
Pope, who grew up in Delavan, wants his future generations of children to be able to enjoy Janesville’s school, churches and community life.
But if he died tomorrow — or wanted to donate to the community tomorrow — there would be no place to do it.
Pope and others are out to change that. They’re creating a fund for those who want their donations to stay in Janesville. So-called “community funds” are common ways to start a legacy.
None of the donated money is used.
“That’s one of the things that appealed to me,” Pope said. “It’s always going to be there.”
Instead, interest from the fund is used to disburse grants decided upon by a local committee.
The Janesville organizers are planning their fund will be organized under the Waseca Area Foundation, which helps get the word out and guides the smaller groups. The Waseca foundation is, in turn, organized out of the Minnesota Communities Foundation, which works with about 25 cities statewide, said Patrice Abbe, community fund specialist and gift planner.
The statewide foundation provides the nonprofit backing for its members and invests their donations. It gets returns of about 5 percent per year.
“The goal is to earn 8 percent over time,” said Abbe, who works out of Waseca.
New Richland started its own foundation in 2009, also under the auspices of the Waseca group. _ Gail Schmidt, who sits on the Waseca Area Foundation Board, said their group started with an anonymous donation of $13,198.
The next year, they gave out their first round of grants, a total of $500.
In 2011, a farmer, also anonymous, donated the proceeds of four semi-trailer loads of grain, netting the New Richland fund about $26,000.
“We are apparently a very shy community,” Schmidt said of the anonymous donations.
This year, they got their big break. Don Hamilton, who died in January, left the foundation $320,000.
Next year, they hope to be able to give out between $25,000 to $35,000 in grants.
The five-member New Richland grant committee has developed guidelines so donors know “We’re not a group of people here playing favorites,” Schmidt said.
The New Richland group actually has two separate funds — the community fund where interest proceeds are returned as grants and the “By the Grace of God” fund. That fund is “donor advised,” meaning the donor specifies what the money will be used for.
To organize under Minnesota Communities Foundation rules, the Janesville fund needs to raise $25,000.
Abbe said that threshold allows the fund to create a return that actually has an impact. It also helps the community to make a commitment to seeing the fund grow.
“Otherwise, a fund can just sit there,” she said
To help start the donations, Janesville is holding a Founder’s Night Program Tuesday at the Indian Island Winery.
“We may not see the fruit, but please make sure your name is on the seeds,” Pope wrote on an announcement about the effort.