Kentucky FFA Foundation Puts Local Interests First with Forever Blue Program
The Kentucky FFA Foundation is taking a new approach to its endowed giving program, and is setting the bar for helping individuals design a legacy that benefits their communities in a way that is meaningful to both the donor and the beneficiaries.
Thanks to thoughtful structuring, the Foundation’s Forever Blue program allows donors to both designate their gift’s intended purpose and select FFA chapters who have first priority to receive the funds.
“To my knowledge, we are the first FFA Foundation to develop a major gift planning program that prioritizes local chapters,” said Sheldon McKinney, executive director of the Kentucky FFA Foundation. “We have a lot of individuals who feel like FFA was a backbone to their success and who they are in life. I want them to have a way to give back that they can feel good about, that their families can feel good about, and that serves their local communities.”
Keelan Pulliam, current chairman of the Kentucky FFA Foundation’s board of trustees is a good example of someone who came up through FFA and is now invested in giving back.
“I’m a product of FFA and I grew up on a small farm in a rural farming community with limited opportunities,” he said. “FFA gave me an opportunity to develop myself, my leadership skills, and my business skills through my SAE.”
Pulliam had a long and successful career in agriculture before he retired and moved back to Kentucky, where he has been very involved in supporting FFA, including Franklin and Boyle counties’ FFA chapters.
“I like working at the local level, because that is where you can really watch individuals develop,” he said.
“The heart of FFA is the local chapter,” said McKinney. “We know people have the heart for their local chapter, but those chapters are unlikely to have the mechanics needed to manage a substantial gift and make it sustainable and lasting. That’s where we come in.”
Forever Blue donors can select in which of the Foundation’s three mission areas they would like their gift to be focused – growing leaders, building communities, or strengthening agriculture.
Because the Forever Blue program is an endowment, a donor’s gift will be able to support their chosen area of focus for a very long time.
“You’re not giving to a specific contest or program,” said Pulliam. “Instead, you can target your gift around our three major objectives.”
Pulliam also said that making a gift through the Kentucky FFA Foundation allows the donor a high level of comfort around how the money is being managed and used.
“There’s an assurance that the money will always be there for that chapter or that targeted opportunity. It also allows the Foundation to manage that money and the overhead costs of financial management. Having your gift rolled into that overall program gives a greater opportunity for earnings,” he said.
If the chapters that the donor designates to receive his or her annual gift do not have a need one year, the funds are still used within that focus area, just for a different FFA chapter.
“We’re going to make sure that donor’s funds go to the intended use,” said McKinney. “With major gifts, you have to think – in 50 years will this still be relevant? By allowing the donors to choose what’s important to them within broader categories, their gifts will still be meaningful when those opportunities look different than they do now.”
To add further flexibility, a Forever Blue donor can spread his or her gift out over as many as five years. This is an option that has caused donors outside of the typical demographic to consider the program.
“Our Forever Blue donors are from all across the spectrum,” said Pulliam. “While you would think a program like this would be more geared toward an older population, we have some individuals who are early in their careers who have reached out to make a gift. It’s an opportunity to give, impact young men and women, and see the benefit of your gift.”
McKinney wants agriculture teachers to know that the Forever Blue program could be a good way to secure sustainable support for their programs.
“Ag teachers wear a lot of hats. Financial planner shouldn’t have to be one of them,” she said. “If you have someone in your community who has the potential to be a major donor, we can help.”
She encourages anyone who is interested in making a Forever Blue gift to the Kentucky FFA Foundation to contact her. “We would love to talk with people about the ways they can give,” she said. “Gift planning is a service we offer. We can help you make a lasting legacy and give back to things you’re passionate about in your community.”
The Kentucky FFA Foundation cultivates partnerships which support the FFA vision to grow leaders, build communities, and strengthen agriculture. Kentucky FFA Foundation initiatives impact more than 14,000 FFA members in 158 FFA chapters across Kentucky. For more information, visit kyffa.org.