Commentary and Opinion

MORRIS: Celebrate city’s philanthropy scene

April 6, 2013

MorrisGood things are happening in the philanthropic community. On April 2, the United Way of Central Indiana held its annual meeting luncheon. On the same day, IUPUI recognized more than 30 individuals and organizations during its annual Spirit of Philanthropy awards luncheon. And on April 9, IU will hold the inaugural ceremony for its newly formed School of Philanthropy on the IUPUI campus—the first school of its kind in the country.

United Way celebrated raising a projected $41 million from the 2012 campaign co-chaired by the dynamic duo of Steve Schenck and Marianne Glick. This record result was especially impressive considering the sluggish economy.

A highlight of the United Way meeting was the recognition of four new Spirit United honorees—Duke Realty Corp., Ice Miller, Indianapolis Power & Light, and Roche Diagnostics. These companies provided financial support and resources above and beyond successful workplace campaigns and provided significant volunteer support for United Way’s mission. They join 16 previous honorees.

United Way honored 22 top contributors and six distinguished campaigns. It also awarded a total of more than $743,000 in grants to three public elementary schools in some of the region’s neediest areas—Sunnyside Elementary in Lawrence Township, Snacks Crossing in Pike Township, and the Center for Inquiry III in Indianapolis Public Schools’ School 27. United Way’s focus on education ties to its mission of helping people learn more, enabling them to earn more and lead safe and healthy lives.

The annual meeting served as the final farewell for 23-year UWCI veteran Ellen Annala. She passed the CEO’s baton to Ann Murtlow, the former head of Indianapolis Power & Light. I can’t say enough about the enormous contributions Ellen made to this community during her tenure at United Way. So many individuals and families have been touched as a result of her dedication and hard work. Good luck, Ellen, and thanks for all you’ve done.

The community has every reason to be excited about Murtlow as her successor. I’m confident Ann and board chairman Sam Odle and 2013 campaign chairman Andy Mohr will provide great leadership as United Way transitions to handle the even larger challenges that lie ahead.

The Spirit of Philanthropy Awards—sponsored by IUPUI, IU Foundation and the IU School of Philanthropy at IUPUI—was a similarly uplifting event. This is the 24th year for the awards program, which recognizes those who’ve had a profound impact on IUPUI’s growth and development through their gifts and volunteerism.

Finally, how exciting is it for the future of philanthropy that IU will be celebrating the inauguration of its brand new School of Philanthropy on the IUPUI campus this week? The Indiana Commission for Higher Education last September signed off on IU’s proposal to start the school. And here we are seven months later with the inauguration. The genesis of the new school was IU’s Center on Philanthropy on the IUPUI campus, the leading research center of its kind, which has been in existence for about 25 years.

Why create a school of philanthropy? The world we live in is complex. The rules are changing as you read this. It’s always been tough to raise enough money to meet the needs of our communities, but it’s even tougher today.

Operating a not-for-profit or foundation requires greater sophistication. The new school will be an enormous asset to our community, our state and beyond. It will produce highly trained and educated people to navigate this difficult landscape. Who wins? We all do—the neediest of our population and the community at large.

Keep reading IBJ as Andrea Davis reports on philanthropy in central Indiana. Please contact Andrea if you have anything of note in this area, at adavis@ibj.com.

And as always, thanks for reading IBJ in print, online, in your inbox, and on your mobile device.•

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Morris is publisher of IBJ. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to gmorris@ibj.com.

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