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Donor Profile: Bob & Henley Smith

Longtime Springfield residents increase their charitable giving by 300% after establishing a donor-advised fund

Passion & Purpose: Summer 2023

Couple discovers “slickest way” to give with donor-advised fund

It wouldn’t have seemed very likely for Henley Parker to ever meet Bob Smith: Henley was living near an aunt in Wichita, Kansas, a decent distance from where she grew up in northwest Arkansas, when a tall New Englander moved into her apartment complex. Bob was farther from home and even less likely to end up in the middle of the Free State: growing up near the lakes and coastal shoreline of Massachusetts and Maine, Bob had hoped to end up near the ocean. He had told his new employer — American Hospital Supply — that he’d really prefer the coast, east or west. When they placed him in Wichita, he wondered what he’d done wrong. Then he met Henley. “When some friends introduced us, he said I was too short,” she says now with a laugh.

Height disparity notwithstanding, they married in 1967 and found their way to Springfield a decade later. “I’ve always said [Springfield] is like New England, but without all the people and taxes,” Bob says. The Ozarks offered the waterways for the boating and fishing that Bob craved, and Springfield had many more trees than Wichita had, which pleased Henley. Most importantly, they found that it was a friendly city that seemed to be the perfect place to raise their young son and daughter.

It was also a place with many opportunities for volunteering: Henley had a history of charitable work, particularly with organizations supporting the vision impaired, and her connections in her sorority Delta Gamma and the Junior League allowed her to continue volunteer work in Springfield. She was first placed with the Volunteer Action Center, and through her and Bob’s church, the couple found a number of organizations in need of help in the area. Henley served for many years on the board of the Regional Girls’ Shelter.

Bob henley smith donors 16x9 2

After making Springfield their home nearly 50 years ago, Bob and Henley Smith now dedicate their philanthropy to local causes through a donor-advised fund.

Giving back to the community

Bob was able to retire from American Hospital Supply at the age of 50, and after a few years, the couple found themselves with enough assets to begin to look into ways to boost their charitable giving. Ever pragmatic, it was key for the Smiths that their giving be prudent, sustainable and effective. “Like many people, we donated our appreciated stocks at year end,” Bob recounts. “Problem with that, however, is that a lower year-end market meant that donation dollars might be at lower prices than other times during the year.”

The Smiths’ CPA recommended they connect with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. “We had known Brian Fogle for many years through church, and we knew him for his banking expertise,” Bob says, “I felt like I was going home when I talked to Brian, Caitlin Golike and others.”

This is how the Smiths came to establish a donor-advised fund (DAF) with the CFO, which allows them to “pick an advantageous time of the year (for their giving), as the money is already there (in the fund).” Bob calls this their “cash stash,” and it allows for quick and flexible options for charitable giving. For example, when a friend of Bob’s who sits on the board of the A Girl Like Me Network casually mentioned that the nonprofit was falling a bit short of its fundraising goal for a float trip for disadvantaged girls, Bob called Caitlin Golike, the CFO’s director of donor services, and requested a grant of $1,000 for the agency.

“Caitlin makes it real easy,” Henley explains. “We give her a phone call, whether it’s a memorial for somebody or anything else like that, she’ll take care of it.”

Bob goes on: “And when you hang up that phone, you’re done! You don’t have to keep track of donations, nothing you have to do, and when the phone call’s done, all the paperwork is done … it just is so easy.” Because of this flexibility and convenience, the Smiths say that giving to various organizations as the needs of those organizations change has become a breeze. Additionally, the shift from a potential posthumous gift to their current DAF means that the Smiths’ lifetime giving increased by 300%.

“We like giving locally.

There are so many needs and it keeps changing, so it’s nice to be flexible.”

Henley Smith

“The donated dollars are invested and managed by the CFO and earn an average of seven percent,” Bob says, “while the cost of all services is one percent annually. Truly a gift that keeps giving!”

A letter of appreciation that Bob sent in to Brian Fogle perhaps most colorfully illustrates his enthusiasm for giving through the CFO:

“Henley and I have been in your program for over a year now and I must say, you have the slickest way I’ve ever seen to give away money. A guy with a gun at my back couldn’t do it with such grace and ease.”

Home in the Ozarks

When he was a boy in Massachusetts, Bob experienced the passing of his father, a tragic event that began a life path that took him to Iowa for graduate school. That’s when he picked up a position at American Medical Supply, which stationed him (against his coastal wishes) in Wichita. From there, Springfield became, and remains, a home and a community where they can make a positive impact.

“We like giving locally,” Henley says, “and the guild I’m in in church does children’s charities, and (through that) I’m fully aware of what’s needed in the area. There are so many needs and it keeps changing, so it’s nice to be flexible.” A phrase they both come back to is: “We made our money locally; we want to return it to our community.”

The couple expresses a deep wonder at the unpredictable, topsy-turvy series of events that brought them together and to Springfield, and Bob admits that if his father hadn’t passed away when he had, Bob almost certainly would have taken over his father’s insurance business and remained in New England. He and Henley understand this path through the lens of their strong faith: “It’s amazing how God leads you,” Bob says, to which Henley agrees, “It’s a God thing.”

And while he may be quick to share the benefits of giving through a donor-advised fund at the CFO, like a true born-and-bred Ozarker, Bob is tightlipped about his favorite fishing spots: “I don’t wanna tell ya!”

By Matthew Stewart · This story is featured in the summer 2023 edition of Passion & Purpose: The CFO Magazine.

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