[Editor’s note: This spring, Southborough voters will be able to choose among two candidates for one seat on the Board of Commissioners of Trust Funds. To help you make that decision, each candidate is invited to submit one letter to readers promoting their campaign. (To find other candidates’ letters click here.)
As in past years, you may use comments to endorse the candidate. No mudslinging allowed here.]
To the Editor:
My name is Sam Stivers and I’m running for a position on the Board of Commissioners of Trust Funds (BCTF). Many people know me as a current member of the Select Board and as a former member of other Southborough boards and committees over the past two decades. I’m running for the BCTF position because I see substantial opportunity for Southborough through expansion of the BCTF activities.
Most Southborough residents are not familiar with the BCTF. This is a long-standing, three member, elected board that is responsible for managing approximately $4 million in 21 individual trust funds. These trust funds have been bequeathed to Southborough by former residents through their estates over the past 80 or so years. For many years now, no new money has gone into these trusts and no new trusts have been created. Income (but in most cases, not principal) from these trust funds can be used for specific charitable purposes such as cemetery maintenance, scholarships and aid to residents facing hardship. The BCTF manages these funds and provides grants to Southborough residents for the trust purposes—with these grants recently totaling ten to fifteen thousand dollars per year. This is a good thing for Southborough, and I want to make this resource grow.
These trust funds can be thought of as “endowment” funds, similar to university endowment funds, that provide support for many years by spending only the income from the invested funds. This structure is different from “annual” charitable entities, such as the Southborough Community Fund and other charitable organizations, which accept annual donations and provide charitable grants each year with these donations, without creating a permanent endowment fund. Each of these “annual” and “endowment” approaches, in its own way, does good work and they can work together to provide important support for local needs and ease the pressure on Town budgets and tax rates.
I want to increase donation opportunities through our BCTF endowment fund structure and to increase the capacity of this support. We can do this by creating new endowment funds to accept contributions and by proactively communicating this opportunity to potential donors. These donors could include individual residents and others (such as businesses, non-profits and foundations) as they consider charitable contributions.
Southborough is the home of many generous individuals. Southborough is also a relatively wealthy community, in the top 10% of Massachusetts cities and towns in terms of per-capita income. As our residents think about philanthropy and estate planning, I want to provide a local endowment option for their consideration—an easy-to-understand, easy-to-use endowment mechanism that we do not have available today.
We, through the BCTF, can take the steps to create this structure for long-term financial support of important Town activities. I ask for your vote on May 9 to let me work with the other BCTF members to begin this process.
7 Presidential Drive