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Passing on a Love for Community Philanthropy

January 7, 2016

Madison (13), Garrett (11) and Jenna (9) Funk are about to learn valuable lessons in giving back to their community. It's these lessons that will inform them well when, some day, they take control of grant decisions for the Mark and Traci Funk Family Fund.

"Our plan is when we get the list of nonprofit grant opportunities, we're going to have our kids go through it and research it," said Mark Funk. "Then they are going to present to Traci and me their top three choices as to where they would like the money to go and why. As a family we are going to agree upon that each year."

It's a new tradition that has created important conversations in the family's Waterloo home, including discussions about endowments and what it means to be a nonprofit.

"It opened up a lot of different conversations. What we told them is that this will be a great way for us to have something our family can rally around and work together on to give back to our community. They thought it was a pretty cool idea," Mark said.

Talking about charitable intentions is something Mark is familiar with. As a financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual, he does it with his clients every day. That's why he sees the importance of teaching his kids early in life about philanthropy, and one reason he and Traci established their donor advised fund at this stage in their lives.

"I think a lot of people just assume it's something they'll take care of when they get older or when they get around to it. They just always assume they'll do it later," Mark said. "Well, we never know when later is going to be, so it's better to control it when you're able to."

For Mark and Traci, it's about teaching their kids so one day they can teach their families. It's about creating and nurturing a family legacy of community philanthropy that will live on forever.

"Ultimately, at the end of the day, it's how you want to be remembered, and we want to be remembered as people who gave back to the community that gave everything to us. We love the Cedar Valley," said Mark. "We weren't born and raised here, but this is where we put our stake in the ground and we plan on staying here forever. We just think it's a great place to raise our kids and the Community Foundation has been essential to helping us with this dream."