Endow Mississippi Matchmaker: Mississippi Humanities Council + CFM

Employees from the MS Humanities Council stand together.
Kam Ridley, MHC Communications Manager; Dr. Kristi Melancon, Associated Professor of English and Philosophy at Mississippi College; John Spann, MHC Program and Outreach Officer; and Melissa Jones, Director of Paralegal Studies at Mississippi College, stand with MHC’s More Perfect Union traveling exhibit.

When you hit a milestone like 50 years, it is natural to start thinking about the future. What lies ahead 50 or 100 years from now?

In 2021, the Mississippi Humanities Council had this very question. Pair that with a quest to better utilize special reserve funds and a relationship with the Community Foundation for Mississippi and a dream was born.

“While these funds were invested in CDs, the interest rates were low and the Board of MHC believed it was time to think more strategically,” said Stuart Rockoff, executive director of MHC. “As MHC’s 50th anniversary approached, we had an idea to create an endowment fund, invested to grow.”

In 2022, MHC announced a campaign to raise $50,000 to launch the Mississippi Humanities Council Innovation Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi. CFM created a matching grant opportunity for $50,000. The MHC Board agreed to also match up to $50,000, creating a 2:1 match for donations to the fund — a 360-degree “win.”

Because the fund is endowed, the Endow Mississippi state income tax credit made this initiative even sweeter. This provides a 25% tax credit to donors who give to permanent endowments at qualified community foundations in Mississippi as long as donors give a minimum of $1,000.

Soon after the fund was announced, a prospective donor contacted CFM, accessing the tax credit for their donation, supporting MHC, helping meet the match and benefitting their own bottom line with the tax credit. Win, win, win.

Why do endowments play such an important role? In the case of MHC, the fund creates a stable funding source in case of future government shutdowns, ensuring new programs can continue to be designed and implemented. MHC can access the spendable portion of the endowment but is not required to, allowing the balance to grow.

Investments are overseen by CFM’s Investments Committee and Board of Trustees, as well as the Council’s own Board. Jane Alexander, president and CEO of CFM, said, “MHC’s decision to combine their assets with the pooled investments of CFM meant access to better-performing investment options, and therefore faster growth.” Another 360-degree win.

The Mississippi Humanities Council joins Delta Blues Museum, University Press of Mississippi, Operation Shoestring, Magnolia Speech School, Mississippi Boychoir, Mississippi Children’s Museum, Mississippi Museum of Natural Science Foundation, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra Foundation, New Stage Theatre, Women’s Foundation of Mississippi, and many others as nonprofit partners with funds at the Community Foundation for Mississippi.

Donors to any endowed fund at an accredited community foundation in Mississippi can qualify for the limited pool of tax credits, and applications are currently open, on a first-come, first-served basis. Learn more about Endow Mississippi here.