Welcome to the Kansas City Research Institute

Donor Stories

Passing on Charitable Values to the Next Generation

Mike and Karen Herman taught their children at a young age about the importance of helping others. Their approach was to lead by example, much like Mike's mentor at Marion Labs, Ewing Kauffman. Mike and Karen began talking with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in 1985 about establishing the Herman Family Foundation Fund.

"I remember one day my corporate salary was published in the paper," Mike said. "Our 12-year-old came home and said, 'Dad! Are we millionaires?!' She wasn't aware of any wealth because we give our money to the community. We want to create our heaven on earth."

Over the years, in addition to giving financially, the Hermans have given their time and talent. They have been driving forces behind numerous civic organizations including Karen's presidency at the Women's Foundation and Mike’s presidency at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The Herman children enjoy volunteering and approach each donation as an investment. "Our children embrace that some of their inheritance will go to charity," Karen said. "And we're proud to see them give to the causes they care about."

Making Kansas City Better for the Next Generation

Dick and Sue Bond want to leave a legacy to future generations. But they want that legacy to be more than just money. They want to give the gift of giving. To make their charitable dream a reality, the former president of the Kansas Senate and his wife turned to the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

"We started by setting up the Dick and Sue Bond Family Foundation Fund in 1999," Dick said. "And then we set up a fund for our grandchildren. This will be more valuable to them than a direct inheritance." The Bonds' idea inspired the Community Foundation to expand its offerings to future generations of charitable givers. "Children and grandchildren can learn philanthropic values at any age," said Dick.

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.

A rich history of giving back to the region

Arthur E. Stilwell founded Kansas City Southern in 1887 with a bold vision to provide a direct north-south rail route to the Gulf of Mexico, moving grain, coal, lumber and other minerals across a growing nation.

Considered to be eccentric during a time when other railroads adopted an east-west route, Stilwell pushed forward with his dream of the north-south rail line, undaunted by those who labeled his aspirations unrealistic. Stilwell's strategy—and Kansas City Southern—was an unqualified success.

For more than a century, the leaders and hard-working railroaders at Kansas City Southern have embraced Stilwell's tenacious ingenuity, making Kansas City Southern what it is today. Deeply committed to the community, the company established the Kansas City Southern Charitable Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in 1993 and later launched a matching gifts program to encourage employees to experience the joys of charitable giving.

Giving Blog

How Corporate Donor-...

Nearly nine-in-10 (86%) Americans expect companies to do more than just make a profit – they should also address social and environmental issues. And 74% of Americans say that their job is...

READ MORE

Why I Give: John Bluford

“Learn, earn and return – it’s all about being meaningful.” John Bluford uses his donor-advised fund to make impactful donations. Using his fund, he supports causes important to hi...

READ MORE

Charitable Giving in...

Conversations are buzzing about New Year’s resolutions. More of this, less of that. More charitable giving? If helping others is included in your ambitions for 2018, the Community Foundati...

READ MORE