Eau Claire Community Foundation Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Article from the Leader-Telegram

Eau Claire foundation a growing asset to community. by Lauren French

After 20 years, coffers have swelled to more than $20M.

In spring 2007, Kim Bodeau of Eau Claire faced a scenario every parent dreads.

Her son, David, died unexpectedly. He was 19 years old.

In the wake of his death, the Bodeau family found themselves unsure how to handle donations pouring in from friends and family. The money sat in a fund — untouched — for a year, until Bodeau discovered the Eau Claire Community Foundation.

“As I’ve worked with (the foundation), what I see is how much all these people care,” said Bodeau, who has now served on the organization’s Board of Trustees for about a year. “They bring this breadth and depth of understanding and connection to our community. There’s this system of conscientious thought and care and respect for the money that people donate.”

The foundation is this year celebrating its 20th anniversary of investing donations and distributing the funds to local organizations. Leaders within the organization say its goal is to connect businesses and people like Bodeau to causes that will enhance the quality of life in Eau Claire, and after 20 years, its ability to do that keeps growing.

By the end of 1999, the foundation’s assets totaled $1,925,689, according to data from the organization. As of July 2017, its assets total $20,802,300, of which more than $16 million is endowed. Since the organization started, it has benefited 354 nonprofits.

“So much has happened in 20 years,” executive director Sue Bornick said. “In the beginning, the founders had a vision, and they did it the right way. I’m grateful every day for the way they set up the foundation.”

Bodeau and her family have used the foundation to donate to Bob’s House for Dogs and Friends of the Chippewa State Trail, among others. Major grant recipients of the foundation since its inception include the Eau Claire YMCA, Feed My People and Literacy Chippewa Valley. It also acts as a conduit for donated funds to the Confluence Project and funds the Women’s Giving Circle, designed to raise money for projects that improve the lives of women and children.

Retired Eau Claire County Judge Thomas Barland is one of the original trustees of the foundation. When he looks to the organization’s future, he said he sees continued growth.

“(The foundation) has done such a good job that people have confidence in it to administer their funds after they’re gone,” Barland said, noting the organization’s Legacy Society, which allows individuals and couples to include the foundation in their estate plans. “They have confidence that their funds will be safe, wisely invested and used for the good of the community.”