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Denova: Trust In Foundations

December 5, 2012
By SARAH HARMON - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

James Denova, vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, encouraged members of the Rotary Club of Wheeling to support their local community foundations Tuesday, saying that charitable foundations often know what philanthropic areas in individual communities have the most need.

During his presentation at the club's meeting, Denova said community foundations, such as the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, are "probably one of the best vehicles for helping those with wealth how best to meet their charitable objectives."

He said community foundations have the ability to research social issues to determine what charitable areas make the most sense to pursue - a task, he said, individuals usually don't have the resources or time to do.

Article Photos

Photo by Sarah Harmon
James Denova, vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, advises members of the Wheeling Rotary Club on Tuesday to donate their funds and resources to community foundations, citing foundations’ ability to focus on philanthropic areas with the most need.

"Community foundations are a mirror to the community," Denova said. "The community foundation has a special responsibility to reflect the needs, to organize donors and match wealth with need and always be accountable to the broader community. In that way, they become the vehicles to be able to harness the resources that are outside of the community to do greatest good."

Denova noted the founder of the Benedum Foundation, Michael Benedum, was a businessman in the early 20th century - the "golden era of philanthropy," when those of great wealth gave money back to the community often without a specific designation in mind.

"Benedum didn't stipulate any particular type of charitable giving or social investment, it was entrusted to a rotating board of trustees," Denova said. "They had a philosophy of entrusting decisions to experts to the future, allowing the kind of things the foundation funds to others."

Denova said charitable giving is on the verge of a "renaissance" when a "historical transfer of wealth" creates a new generation of wealthy philanthropists with very different approaches to charity compared to their forefathers.

"We'll see a much more informed philanthropic leader," Denova said. "One of the most significant differences is the emergence of the informed donor. They have a much more studied commitment to specific issues. "

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