Here to Help and Share through the Riverbend Fund

Photo by Michael Oppenheim.

Entrepreneur Hardy LeGwin and educator Susan Bicknell opened a fund with CFWNC in 2015. Hardy had started a series of businesses in the region including a successful solar company that was sold in 2016. “In anticipation of that sale we wanted to make sure that we could expand our philanthropy,” said Hardy. “With advice from our estate planning attorney and financial advisor, we started looking more closely at using The Community Foundation as a vehicle for our giving. We thought a donor advised fund was the perfect way to fund our charitable legacy.”

Now, in addition to recommending grants from the resulting donor advised fund, Hardy and Susan often co-invest with CFWNC to fund discretionary grants. “One of the things we really like about the Foundation is that you bring us opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise know about,” said Hardy. “You’ve done the due diligence on it, you’ve done all the homework, and that makes it really easy for us to say yes. We think it’s a great way to leverage our donations to create a greater impact in the local community.”

“Most of the time we say yes because they are great opportunities that really fit with our values,” added Susan. “We could spend time doing our own research, but CFWNC is doing a better job than we would do, and nonprofits come to you with interesting projects. We also love that we can do a piece of it. We enjoy collaboration and the feeling that we are working with other people to move things forward.”

“Working with Donor Relations Officer Spencer Butler on co-investment makes the process seamless,” continued Hardy. “The administrative part of our giving is handled really well.”

“We have been extremely blessed by the abundance in our lives,” said Susan. “We believe we are all here to share and help one another in whatever way we can, and we are thankful and privileged to be able to share that abundance.”

Hardy and Susan focus their giving on the environment, education, social justice and farming. “A lot of our focus is on local food supply and sustainable agriculture,” said Susan. “We used to be farmers in Madison County and have an appreciation for the value that farmers bring. We want to see farms preserved and farmers supported. Riverbend was the name of our farm in Marshall. It sat right at the bend of the French Broad River. Naming our fund after the farm was a wonderful way to pay tribute to it.”