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Community Story

From Nonprofit Leader to Strategic Steward

Gail’s mindset of philanthropy goes back to being raised in a generous family.

Gail Kurtz didn’t have to be convinced. She already knew the value of community foundations when it came to philanthropy.

“I was involved with OneAthens, a group that came up with the idea that Athens needed a community foundation,” Gail said. “I wasn't a spearhead or anything, but I was involved and knew about community foundations and the work they do. I thought Athens needed one, too.”

Not only was Gail already familiar with community foundations – something not even a third of adults in one 2023 study could say – she also knew nonprofits inside and out.

“For 18 years, I ran a nonprofit, the Southeastern Network of Youth and Family Services, which connected a network of youth-serving agencies in the eight southeastern states. We provided them with training resources, conferences, and new ideas. It was a great job and good fun!” she said.

Even with this deep nonprofit experience, Gail felt her gifts would be best stewarded through a fund with the Athens Area Community Foundation.

“I decided to become a fundholder because I felt if I believed in it, then I should be involved in it. Plus, it really makes life easier. We used to make various donations here and there, and I couldn't keep track of them – plus, I could no longer deduct them from my taxes. [Opening a fund] seemed really useful and helped to support the foundation itself,” she said.

“Although I run a nonprofit organization and know how important it is to have donations, one of the things that I really like as a fundholder is being able to talk with Sarah about where our money would best be used because there are so many causes that are important to me.

“We like giving to something that can make a real difference at that point in time. So for the last several years, we've tried to focus our donations on something that Sarah McKinney, the CEO of the AACF, knows is a need and that we enjoy as well.”

Gail’s mindset of philanthropy goes back to being raised in a generous family. But she also laughs, “I'm a social worker, so what else could I do but give back?”

In her free time, Gail volunteers with the Athens Community Council on Aging and helps with other community projects that arise.

Not only did Gail inherit a heart for giving, but she’s passed it on to her three sons, too. When Gail’s mother died, the Kurtzes gave each son a gift to help them start their own journeys of philanthropy; all three hold their funds at the Athens Area Community Foundation.

During her time as a nonprofit leader, Gail saw a direct benefit through the services she offered to help nonprofits do more. She even, through the Athens Area Community Foundation, offered funds for developing training based on some of the things that she knew would support local nonprofits, including partnering with the Fanning Institute at UGA to make it happen.

Having experienced the satisfaction of seeing her dollars at work is a big part of why Gail encourages others to get involved and start a fund with the Athens Area Community Foundation.

“What I really like about the Community Foundation is the way it provides leadership. It's not just random giving; they help you organize it. They also provide leadership to other nonprofits and distribute funding,” she said.

“People should give through the Athens Area Community Foundation because it makes your life easier – you can count on that. Someone is overseeing the nonprofits, and they know more about the community than I do. They really help you focus where you want your giving to go.”

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The Athens Area Community Foundation is a public grantmaking foundation that builds community by encouraging long term giving through funds created by caring donors.

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