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Dear Fellow Acworthians,

As some of you may already know there is a new and exciting addition to Acworth’s many venerable organizations: The Acworth Community Charitable Trust. As Chair of this new organization I would like to express the Trust’s thanks to The Acworthian for giving us an opportunity to share details as to who we are, how we arose, and what purposes we hope to serve.

In the past forty years of my professional life I have been fortunate to have sat on the boards of, or been more informally involved with, a diverse group of non-profit organizations at the local, regional and national levels. I have watched organizations grow and prosper and have learned much as I shared concerns with donors on how funds are raised, expended, and accounted for. I came to realize what an important tool and community resource private philanthropy is, how it is central to our culture, and how rewarding it can be to both donors and recipients.

Kristian Fenderson presiding over a Charitable Trust meeting.
Click to enlarge

Thus it  was that  the  idea  began to  form  in  my  mind  for a fully  independent,  locally directed,  charity in Acworth, not associated with any town or religious organization or single purpose, but able to work flexibly with them and others for multiple purposes. In 2006 I broached the subject with several friends and solicited their opinions, and in early January 2007 we assembled a like minded group of people to explore the possibilities of forming a trust.

From the outset one of our goals was to expand local charitable activity and partner with the well established nonprofit organizations in town. To that end, we met early on with representatives of the Church, the Historical Society, the Library, the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company and the Cold Pond Community Land Trust. Everyone was gracious and generally supportive of our vision. We also met with Lisa Foley of the NH Charitable Foundation to see if there were good options for operating under their umbrella. On learning that locally advised funds had to start with at least $25,000, the working group agreed to pursue forming our own 501c3 (a charitable, tax exempt organization). We set April 1 as the date for presenting our ideas to the public and fielding their questions. Publicity was released to local papers, The Acworthian, The Acworth Community Newsletter and through posters. We also contacted an array of local folk directly so as to encourage broad involvement. A small but enthusiastic group met at Town Hall that day and agreed to press on with the work of drafting bylaws and pursuing steps to bring the trust into being.

Beginning with a meeting on April 29, 2007 the group met every 2-3 weeks to work on bylaws and a mission statement for the Trust. On September 21, 2007 the Acworth Community Charitable Trust became a registered nonprofit corporation when our Articles of Agreement were filed with the NH Secretary of State’s office. On September 30, 2007, after local posting to the community, I moderated the inaugural membership meeting at Town Hall. Twenty-six dues paying members adopted the Mission Statement and elected a Board of Directors, comprised of Guy Russell, Stella Herpel, Wes Marple, Debby Hinman, Olga Bassinne, Carolyn Jerard, Betsy Snider and myself.

The remainder of 2007 and much of 2008 were spent refining our bylaws and developing the forms needed to submit to the Internal Revenue Service to gain 501(c)(3) status. We benefited greatly from generous advice from the Attorney General’s office, and from the wide variety of talents and perspectives the Board brought to the task. We were amazed at how much fun we had working together on such nit-picky stuff! Finally in July we mailed in our application and waited.

After more than two months of anticipation it was with a great sense of relief and accomplishment that I received a letter from the IRS approving our application with no further modifications and acknowledging our tax exempt status retroactive to Sept. 21, 2007.

Our goals are many, as the mission statement and purpose of the Acworth Community Charitable Trust is to support charitable projects benefiting the town of Acworth and its citizens. We have organized the Trust to fund projects involving historic preservation, arts and humanities and conservation as well as educational grants. Donors may choose the area they wish to support, contribute to the long-term development of the Trust, or make unrestricted gifts.

At our recent second annual membership meeting, we set an informal goad of raising $5000 by fall of 2009. Hopefully we have underestimated! The Board plans to make an initial grant next year to get it its efforts off to a quick start now that the organizational work is behind us and the rewards are ahead.

We envision the Trust as a fully independent, locally directed, enduring institution in Acworth that will both address and transcend particular immediate needs. Copies of our Mission Statement and By-Laws are available at the Acworth Silsby Library, or by clicking here. As a public charity, the Trust’s original documents and records are available from the IRS and the office of the NH Attorney General, Charitable Trusts Unit, for public scrutiny.

In times of great economic uncertainty such as today, it is all too easy to focus on immediate problems and restraints. We hope and encourage everyone to take a much longer view and have the imagination to think of the potential beneficial effects this organization will have on the lives of Acworth residents a hundred years or more hence.

To these ends we ask for your support in the way of gifts and memorial donations to the trust, including us in your estate planning and joining us in our vision for the future. We sincerely welcome any questions, comments, suggestions, and community participation

Kris Fenderson, Chair

Acworth Community Charitable Trust
PO Box 10
Acworth, NH 03601

Further information contact Kristian at 835-6748 or
Stella Herpel at 835-2925