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Double Play: Charitable move keeps Royals in Kansas City

Ewing Marion Kauffman loved baseball. He also was deeply committed to giving back. A carefully crafted estate plan reflected both of these passions. Ewing's gift of the Kansas City Royals baseball team created a regional benefit so compelling that it marked the first time in history that the Internal Revenue Service had approved a charitable deduction for the gift of a major league sports team. The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, in turn, helped 32 other donors establish funds to ensure the team's stability prior to its sale.

Reflecting his passion to help others, Ewing established the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in the late 1960s to advance education and entrepreneurship. In addition, the Ewing M. Kauffman Fund for Greater Kansas City and the Royals Fund were established at the Community Foundation. The Royals Fund received its last contribution in relation to the Royals succession plan in 1997.

Among Ewing's many legacies was his inspiration to other donors to think creatively about giving assets other than cash and marketable securities to their favorite charitable organizations. Whether the charitable gift is real estate, closely-held stock, or a baseball team, visionary donors and "alternative assets" are a winning combination for the community.

A Legacy of Listening and Building Together

"Do justice; love mercy; and walk humbly with your God," Beth Smith learned as a child. Both parents and grandparents (Lithuanian immigrants) were observant adherents to Judaism. "I wasn't born with a silver spoon but a community spoon in my mouth," Beth mused.

Ed Smith, one of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation's seven founders, and his wife, Beth, were for many years one of Kansas City's dynamic duos. Beth was influenced by the bright and charismatic Marjorie Powell Allen, also a founder of the Community Foundation. They worked together to establish the Central Exchange, an interracial and intergenerational venue where women "could pick up the check." And in 1979, Ed and Beth established the Edward A. and Beth K. Smith Philanthropic Fund.

Ed has since passed on but Beth continues to support the nonprofit sector. She considers her forte to be "drawing strength and wisdom from others; listening and building together." And that is the spirit of the Women's Employment Network Fund — also housed at the Community Foundation — one of the many legacies Beth has given to Kansas City.

Helping Needy Children in the Northland

In the mid-1930s, NeVada Linscomb, born to a German immigrant family, met Irven Linscomb. Irven, himself born into poverty in Texas, was working for the Chase Bag Company in Kansas City's River Market. Soon Irven and NeVada started their own company, building a successful business that thrived for many years.

It was in 1957 when Irven met Bill Zimmer and joined Zimmer Companies. "Irven was a man of integrity who took only calculated risks and yet was great fun to be with," Bill said.

After Irven died, NeVada opened the Irven E. and NeVada P. Linscomb Foundation Fund in 1988 at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. A year later, Bill persuaded NeVada to set up a charitable trust to ensure that her charitable passions could be realized.

NeVada passed away eight years later, and through the Community Foundation the couple's legacy lives on. The Irven E. and NeVada P. Linscomb Foundation Fund supports services for children in the Northland, including "Miles of Smiles," a mobile dental program.

Lessons From A Love Story

Pete Levi's father, Kurt Levi, fled to America from Germany during Adolf Hitler's reign, leaving behind his sweetheart, Ruth, who would become his wife — and Pete's mother. Years later, sorting through his parents' belongings, Pete stumbled across dozens of beautifully composed letters, handwritten in German, from his father to his mother during the time they were apart.

Pete hired an expert to translate the letters. With each translation, Pete recognized that he had an historical treasure on his hands. Each letter offered a snapshot into daily life during a pivotal time in history, all wrapped up in a love story.

Pete established the Levi Family Foundation for the Study of Holocaust Archives Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. Now others can experience history through the heartwarming correspondence between his parents all those years ago.

And to think that in 1995 the letters were sitting in a closet in Kurt's Plaza apartment in an old tattered box—the same box they had been in since 1938!

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