Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Catholic Foundation To Manage Smith Family Fund

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published March 4, 2010

The Catholic Foundation of North Georgia last year doubled to $18 million the funds under its management.

The private family foundation of one of Atlanta’s most established Catholic families is among the new funds. The $2 million foundation started nearly 40 years ago by the late Alex Smith and his wife, Betty, is now managed as a donor-advised fund at the Catholic Foundation.

“There is a lot more personal interest. Everybody wins,” said Betty Smith, sitting in her Peachtree Road home, about being involved with the Catholic Foundation.

The Catholic Foundation increased its funds by reaching out to parishes, schools, individual donors, who are setting up endowment funds, starting charitable gift annuities, and making gifts of real estate and other assets.

A big boost was overseeing $5 million of the scholarship endowment fund for archdiocesan schools, said Nancy Coveny, executive director of the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia.

The organization is moving in the right direction, she said.

“Yes, we are quite pleased with the progress we have made. Of course, eventually, we want to be a Catholic Foundation which manages $200 million or more in endowments for our local Catholic community,” she said.

The foundation has received several gifts in recent months to manage for Catholic institutions. Parishes and schools have received gifts of insurance policies, retirement funds and bequests. A gift of a $100,000 insurance policy has been made to the St. Peter Chanel Church endowment fund. A parishioner at St. Jude Church made a will commitment to that parish endowment fund. And a new endowment has been established by Francis and Margaret Hartman to benefit St. Thomas Aquinas Church.

The Alex and Betty Smith Foundation, a benefactor of many Catholic and Atlanta institutions, had at first been managed by the Smiths themselves. In recent years it was turned over to a bank to be handled, while the family directed the donations.

Institutions like the University of Georgia, Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center, Christ the King Cathedral, Marist School, Buckhead Christian Ministry and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston were aided by the Smiths.

But in the past year, the Smith children and Betty Smith, whose husband, Alex, died in 2008, opted to turn administrative oversight over to the Catholic Foundation. Now, the family is turning to the Catholic Foundation to manage and to set a long-term future for the foundation. The Smiths are the first donor-advised fund with the Catholic Foundation, which means the Smiths directors advise on where the grants will be awarded.

Clarence H. Smith, CEO of Haverty Furniture Companies, who leads the foundation’s board of directors, said his family believes in the foundation’s mission and hoped moving its private foundation would encourage others to look at the Catholic Foundation. Also, the original idea for a Catholic Foundation came from Alex Smith, who had served as general counsel for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

He said the advantages became apparent as the family considered the move, such as lower management fees, more comfort with investment guidance, and the exemption from paying taxes when at the Catholic Foundation.

Also, he said the family is excited to learn about new organizations that they may be interested in supporting.

“The Catholic Foundation will bring us new ideas that we haven’t thought of,” he said.

The Catholic Foundation worked with the Smiths to set up a transition so the Alex and Betty Smith Donor Advised Fund will convert to a donor advised endowment fund in the future. The change ensures the family’s gifts to the community continue in perpetuity.

“It lives beyond us,” said Smith.

Coveny said the foundation can accommodate most desires of a foundation for gift giving, excluding donations to organizations that would contradict church principles.

“We want your money to help the charities you care about,” she said to Smith.

The Catholic Foundation wants to reach out and talk to other families, she said. The Catholic Foundation is offering private family foundations that move to its management by June 30 a permanently reduced administrative fee.

For more information contact the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia at (404) 497-9440.