Giving Spotlight: The Fund for Columbia County

Sometimes giving can be practical and permanent. That combination describes a recent gift from Kinderhook, NY resident Bob Albern, who made a donation from his IRA to Berkshire Taconic’s Fund for Columbia County, which helps improve the quality of life there through grants to nonprofits.

Bob was inspired to give by a campaign the fund had launched to build its endowment. At the same time, he was aware that Congress had renewed the Charitable IRA Distribution, which allowed individuals to make gifts without
treating the distribution as income.

Almost 30 years ago, Bob first gained exposure to the community foundation model through involvement with the Delaware Community Foundation. Not long after he and his wife, Lee, moved to Kinderhook back in 2004, he heard that his new home had a community foundation of its own.

“When I became aware of Berkshire Taconic, I came in the door with a smile,” Bob says.

Bob has spent much of his adult life building an IRA, which he says grew thanks to hard work, good investments and a lot of luck. When he elected to donate money to the Fund for Columbia County, he viewed it as a service to the community he has lived in for 11 years, while knowing that this distribution going to a charity would not be taxed as income. Another advantage of giving a significant gift through his IRA this year is that it will reduce the size of his IRA, and thus his required annual minimum distribution will decrease next year.  

“I had already made a donation to Berkshire Taconic,” Bob says. “But when this other decision was made by Congress that I could do more—well, I did more.” So he did.

“We are so grateful to donors like Bob who contribute to our endowment and allow us to help people in need and enrich lives throughout the county,” says Joyce Lapenn, the fund’s chair. “His generous gift will help ensure that the fund can continue to have a lasting impact in our communities.”

Over the last 15 years, the Fund for Columbia County has awarded over $500,000 to 150 organizations in the county for projects in education, health and social services, economic development, arts and culture and more.

“I see my donation as support for the fund and the good things they’re doing,” Bob says. “If putting my money in an endowment encourages other people to contribute to the Fund for Columbia County—that’s even better.”