Our Voice: Three Rivers foundation can leverage your legacy

'Tis the season for giving.

Our community is lucky to have an entity like the Three Rivers Community Foundation to help shepherd much-needed money to organizations in the Tri-Cities.

The foundation recently handed out $171,183 in grants. That kind of money is sure to make the New Year a lot brighter for many.

The Three Rivers Foundation was created in 1999 by a group of volunteers, and issued its first grants three years later. The foundation's mission is "to strengthen and improve the quality of life in the Three Rivers Community by supporting and enhancing philanthropy and charitable activities."

It does this by responsibly handling donations to the foundation and investing them wisely so they can create revenue for the long-term. The foundation acts as a conduit between donors and nonprofits, reviewing grant applications and distributing funds according to donor wishes. It creates a buffer between giver and receiver for those who prefer to remain anonymous in their bequests.

The 45 grants recently awarded ranged from less than $1,000 up to $20,000. The foundation started distributing grants of less than $1,000 last year in hopes that the recipients could leverage it into a larger sum.

The long list of recipients includes many children's charities and arts organizations, as well as those with broader missions like the American Red Cross and Grace Clinic.

The largest grant went to the YMCA at the Martin Luther King Center in Pasco for after-school programs. Lourdes Medical Center received $10,000 for its summer day program for children with mental illnesses. Meals on Wheels received $8,000 and FIRME, a group that works to keep kids out of gangs, received more than $9,000.

And the list goes on. Many of us would pick the same charities to give to if we had the resources to give.

Some of us get overwhelmed by the sheer number of worthy causes or think that a few dollars won't make a difference. And we're wrong.

That's where an organization like the Three Rivers Community Foundation can take the reins for folks who aren't sure where the greatest needs are or who don't have the time or the inclination to deal with the giving process. The foundation takes donations of all sizes, makes site visits to nonprofits and follows up with grant recipients to make sure the dollars go where they were intended.

In addition to cash donations, the foundation also handles giving through trusts, annuities, IRAs and life insurance policies. So if you're working on your estate planning, take a look at the foundation. You could leave a long-term benefit to the community as part of your legacy.

The Three Rivers Community Foundation claims that only 2 percent of its funds are used for administration, meaning almost all the money goes to nonprofits each year.

If your New Year's resolutions include finding ways to better the community or making an appointment with your lawyer to work on your estate plan, take a look at the Three Rivers Community Foundation.

To learn more about what Tri-City nonprofits have on their holiday wish lists, visit tricityherald.com/wishlist.