Ben Franklin: Early Supporter of Community Foundations

Please enjoy this legacy column from February of 2007 with updates on some important info that has changed through the years. This was the very first OCCF column to run in our Spencer Evening World. Thanks for reading.


Your Owen County Community Foundation has had some great gifts from some pretty distinguished donors over the years, but the Community Foundations for Pennsylvania can boast of a gift in 1990 from none other than Founding Father Benjamin Franklin.


Before he died in 1790, Franklin left 1,000 pounds sterling each to Boston, the city of his birth, and Philadelphia, his home during his successful career as a printer, inventor, scholar, and statesman. Just like donors to your OCCF, Franklin knew his gift would grow over time, so he planned ahead and provided for future gifts to be made from the proceeds of his original donation.


Franklin’s original gift helped to found the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston and the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, but in 1990 Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey, still following the spirit of Franklin’s original instructions, transferred a portion of the remainder of Franklin’s donation to the community foundations in Pennsylvania.


Today the benefits of Franklin’s foresight can be seen in grants like the $1,300 Chester County Community Foundation grant to the Po-Mar-Lin Fire Company or the $64,000 in scholarships paid out by the Williamsport – Lycoming Foundation. 21st century grants paid from an 18th century donation – pretty amazing. Franklin’s original gift produced investment income and paid out grants for 200 years and was still worth over $2.2 million in 1990. We don’t call Benjamin Franklin a Founding Father for nothing. (Note to eager readers: Put The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin on your list of great books to read. Franklin’s story is a fantastic history of how the United States of America came to be.)


The same principle is at work right here in Owen County. Your Community Foundation paid out $118,546 in grants and $38,186 in scholarships during 2006 – all from the investment proceeds from gifts made in our relatively short 12 year history.


Update: In 2018, your OCCF provided grants of $187,000 and scholarships of $56,300 for our communities.


Your Owen County Community Foundation now has assets valued at over $4.4 million and is using the investment proceeds to help make Owen County communities become better places to live, grow, and work. Please consider joining your Owen County neighbors in a philanthropic tradition supported by Benjamin Franklin.


Your OCCF now has assets of just over $8 million and growing.


Your local community foundation maintains over 70 individual funds that provide support for anything from the Owen County Humane Society to a scholarship for a student going to college to become teacher. The people who start the funds decide how they want to help Owen County. And not just help today or tomorrow but forever.


Our total funds now count 158 different donor designed approaches to philanthropy in Owen County. Including the Glenn T Burns Fund that was established just this week.


As you plan for ways that you might want to help in the community, you are welcome to call on your Community Foundation staff for help in setting up your permanent gift – whether the donation is cash, shares of stock, an insurance policy, or as a part of your estate. We are here to help you accomplish your plan for charitable giving.


When you call or stop by, just tell us “Ben sent me”.


If you have any questions please contact me at 812-829-1725, email me at, visit us online at, or stop by and visit us in person at our office now located at 60 E Market Street in Spencer.


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