The Sunflower Fund: Transformational Philanthropy at Work

The Community Foundation of Louisville works every day to connect our individual, family, and corporate donors with Foundation-led and community-based work that aligns with their charitable interests. We believe that this is just one of the things that sets us apart from our commercial competitors. And increasingly, Foundation staff are working with donors who are interested in what we call transformational philanthropy: philanthropy that is more focused, intentional, and impact-driven. One example of this work of transformational philanthropy is our partnership with the Sunflower Fund, a Donor Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of Louisville.

In 2016, an anonymous donor approached the Community Foundation with an interest in creating a fund that would focus specifically on education and hunger, two areas that were very important to his family. The donor family was interested in moving the needle on intractable issues in the Bardstown community and were looking for a partner that could both help them maintain their family’s anonymity and provide administrative support and direction for their efforts.

One tangible example of the work that the Foundation has done with the Sunflower Fund is the development of a new initiative in Nelson County, where Bardstown is located. Meals from the Heart is a new meal delivery program that provides microwaveable meals to the elderly and homebound who are hungry but can’t get to the Bread for Life Food Pantry in Bardstown. The program was created in early 2017 when the donor learned that there were more than 200 people on a waiting list for meal delivery in Nelson County. It was unconscionable to the family that, in a community as prosperous and generous as Bardstown, there were still people going to bed hungry every night.

Wanting to avoid redundancies and to support the organizations that were already on the ground in Bardstown, the donor approached the Guthrie Opportunity (GO) Center about using their On-The-GO Foods program to prepare the meals; the modern, industrial kitchen was already functioning, and the GO Center kitchen staff – adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities – had additional capacity. St Vincent de Paul’s Bread for Life Food Pantry agreed to manage the new program, hiring additional staff to coordinate the volunteers to deliver the meals. Many of the churches in Bardstown and Nelson County actively worked to recruit the cadre of volunteers required to deliver the meals. And Feeding America agreed to help source the food to keep the cost down.

The program launched in June 2017; from idea to inception, it took less than four months to get off the ground, thanks to the generous support of the Sunflower Fund and the investment of so many partners, including the Community Foundation. Since the first meals were delivered a year ago, nearly 20,000 meals have been served to the homebound and hungry in the Bardstown area, and 110 people are now receiving meals delivered to their homes each day through Meals from the Heart.

The Meals from the Heart program and the partnership with the Sunflower Fund is just one of the ways that the Foundation is working with our donors to create impact in Louisville and beyond.

If you are interested in learning more about how the Foundation can help you with transformational philanthropy, contact Anne McKune, Director of Philanthropy at [email protected] or 502.585.4649