Creating Generations of Generosity
In each chapter of our lives, a passion ignites us to connect and spark change in the community around us. From a young age, Morgan Atkinson, a new Community Foundation fundholder and creator of the Cousins Care Fund, was taught the values of caring for his community and being good neighbors to one another. He found his spark of generosity in adolescence after being inspired by his favorite artists. “[As a child], I was taught that community is very important – sharing the many gifts we had with others is very important. People who inspired me were Kentucky writer Thomas Merton and songwriter Bruce Springsteen. At the base of [their writing] is the importance of community, sharing, and as human beings, we’re all in this together, and we need to help each other along.” Whilst absorbing these wise words from his family and the artists he loved, Atkinson used his talents to weave these values into his documentarian work.
Throughout his career in video production, he created commercials and training videos for local nonprofits. Helping these nonprofits share their missions in an impactful way fostered his love for storytelling. “By telling those stories, it reinforced in me the idea of the importance of sharing and caring for our fellow humans,” shared Atkinson. “Nonprofits provide the balance [that we need].” Atkinson later took his storytelling to the next level by becoming a documentarian and dedicating his life to capturing the richness of Kentucky people and its landscapes.
The Cousins Care Fund
The joys of retirement and selling his home dawned the journey Atkinson and his wife, Barbara Sievert, would take in creating the Cousins Care Fund at the Community Foundation of Louisville. At the time, Atkinson had existing funds set up with his financial advisor, but he and his wife, Barbara Sievert, had long envisioned creating a new fund that would inspire generosity within his family and keep his grandchildren close for years to come.
In this vision, grandchildren Ben, Will, Brayden, and Cole would gather together collectively once a year to choose which philanthropic causes and nonprofits to support together as a family. Once all four grandchildren reach 18 years old, they will join the Fund’s advisory committee and take over advising the Cousins Care Fund from their parents.
To make this vision come to life, Atkinson set up a meeting between his grandsons and Heather Cash, Senior Vice President of Development & Stewardship at the Community Foundation. Atkinson’s grandkids had never stepped foot in a conference room before, so he was a little apprehensive about how the meeting would pan out. “When we came down to talk to Heather, I was impressed that she was able to get [the grandkids] off their phones for a little while,” Atkinson remarked. “Heather locked in their attention and tailored the talk to where they might be coming from. The grandkids took a lot away from it! I could see the seeds of philanthropy are being planted, and the hope is that those seeds grow.”
Choosing the Community Foundation of Louisville
When Atkinson established the fund, he was new to working with the Community Foundation of Louisville. “I had been aware of the Community Foundation [of Louisville], and frankly, I did not think it was a fit for me,” stated Atkinson. “Most of the people I saw involved had significantly more financial resources than I did. I said, ‘I have this modest amount to give that doesn’t fit with a big group like the Community Foundation.’ I came back to Heather and said, ‘Why should I go with the Community Foundation?’ and she did a great job expressing to my four grandsons and me the true sense of philanthropy and what it means. She hooked me, and I got it. As I learned more, I realized that all sizes can fit. You can find your niche in philanthropy. There is a richness there that goes beyond the bottom line,” conveyed Atkinson.
The flexibility and expertise of the Community Foundation of Louisville proved to be a huge plus to Mr. Atkinson, but what he appreciated most was the personal approach. “The fact that you can call somebody and know you’re speaking to a person within your own community who is aware of the environment, and you get a personal response,” said Atkinson. “It may not be something you always want to hear, but you know they know you, and they know what you’re trying to accomplish. The personal contact you have [makes all the difference].”
Legacy Through Generations
Currently, the Cousins Care Fund is being advised out of two cities with two grandchildren in Willmington, North Carolina, and two grandchildren in McKinney, Texas. One of Atkinson’s stepdaughters is a CASA volunteer in Texas, inspiring her son to give to their local organization. Another grandchild designated funds to the American Red Cross Kentucky Region Chapter after they saw the recent natural disasters in Kentucky.
When asked how Atkinson hopes his legacy continues and what it will mean to him, he stated, “It enriches your life in so many ways and helps you to see the bigger picture. We can become so self-absorbed that it’s not healthy. To get that broader view, it’s made my life fuller, and my wife’s life fuller. I can see how my wife has given the gift [of philanthropy] to my step-daughters and how their lives reflect those values. The hope is to keep this going and see it [instilled] in my grandkids too.” Many of us look to those around us to take the first step in making change happen, but change only happens when we work together to create new paths for prosperity.
You can invest in the change you want to see! Contact us at email@example.com to learn how to open a fund and create a legacy of philanthropy with the Community Foundation of Louisville.