HYPE members on Wednesday got to sit down for lunch with Linda Kelly, the President of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
, the community foundation for the 29-town Greater Hartford region. This was a special treat for HYPEsters as they got to meet with a leader in the non-profit sector who has not only found great personal success, she has made an everlasting difference in her community. Ms. Kelly was introduced to the group by the MetroHartford Alliance
’s own Oz Griebel who expressed his appreciation for the foundation as “one of the area’s most important assets” and his gratitude for having Ms. Kelly sit on the Alliance’s board of directors.
Linda Kelly’s enthusiasm for her work was apparent right from the beginning as she explained the organization’s purpose and history. Now in its 87th year, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has about $730 million in assets, making it the 12th largest community foundation in the nation. The cash flow and assets remaining completely transparent so donors are able to rest assured that their contributions are being utilized in a way that they had intended. They are one of the few community foundations that was able to pull through the hardships of the recession without having to terminate employees or by a major reduction of grants. Ms. Kelly attributes this to the strength of the foundation’s investments, as they invest for the long term, and their cash reserves.
Her professional career began at the UCONN Law School
where she obtained her Juris Doctor and ended up working in the legal department. She was so impressive in her work she soon became the General Counsel to Connecticut Bank. Ms. Kelly encouraged the HYPE members to “be ready for these opportunities, the ones we may not plan for.” She advocated staying involved in the community as a great way to network and gain valuable experience. Ms. Kelly strongly believes that it was due to her record of community service that she was able to obtain the position she has today. To the amazement of the audience, she explained that her first public service was serving as a probation office in California, a far cry from what she finds herself doing today.
A HYPE member expressed interest in the foundation’s accountability and how they “accomplish donor intent.” Ms. Kelly explained that about two-thirds of the foundation’s money is currently “unrestricted,” meaning the foundation can determine how best to use the income to support the region. The foundation does have certain funds set up to accomplish varying goals. Donors have the option to give money towards “general interests,” like the environment or human needs. They also allow you to set up a “preference fund” that while the money is not solely intended for one cause or organization, they are given preference. Donors also have the choice to customize the exact way they intend for their money to be allocated and the organization is more than happy to work with anyone. The foundation also provides all their living donors, because as Ms. Kelly explained, “a lot of them aren’t,” periodic reports that show recent activities and how the money is being utilized.
We would like to thank Ms. Kelly for meeting with us and providing a great dialogue for HYPE members interested in the world of Hartford non-profits. To learn more about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the great work they do, please check out their website.>