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Local InterestFueling the Community – Turning Belief Into ActionBY SHERII SHERBANThe Battle Creek Community Foun- dation (BCCF) con- tinues to provide a firm foundation for meeting the needs of our community. Through dedicated staff, donors, and volunteers they haveexpanded that role utilizing their energy and interests to create awareness and ac- tion for positive change.Thomas Crothers, Vice President of Finance and Investments, provides leadership in financial management and investments. He oversees all aspects of the finance department including super- vision of staff, completing investment allocations, cash management, journal entries, and staffing the BCCF Finance and Investment Committees. Thomas also shares in the development efforts of BCCF where he also has the responsi- bility for the marketing and communica- tions department.Thomas began his career and interest in finance by accepting an internship with the budget office for the City of Chicago, while working on his PhD at Loyola Uni- versity. Upon completion of the internship he was offered a position. He thought it would be a great opportunity to put theory into practice and was very excited about the opportunity. He worked at the city for nine years. Following his work with the city Thomas transitioned to work in com- mercial banking in the private sector.The good news for the Battle Creek Community Foundation occurred in Janu- ary 2012 when Thomas accepted a position as the director of finance and investments. In just two years he was promoted to the vice president of finance and investments.In the past seven years BCCF has seen both significant financial growth as well as added new directions for the community. One common phrase you may have heard recently, “Believe in Battle Creek” can be seen throughout our community. A specific endowment fund has been set up to impact Battle Creek in a positive way.Fiscally, he helps manage $120 million of investments, activities for 1,100 funds, and $15 million of fixed assets. “Every- thing we do here is very data driven,” says Thomas. “A lot of financial accounting oc- curs across 1,100 different funds.” Conse- quently, he intentionally has different staffmanaging aspects of the finances from dol- lars coming in and going out to the general ledger. Furthermore, he has set up some types of funds to have specific coordina- tors. He wants the finances to be as open as possible.A goal for Thomas is to distribute the fundraising and development work to as many as possible throughout the organization. He believes that it’s every- body’s responsibility to be able to share the same story and to be a part of put- ting belief into action. Engaging the staff with various programs also allows them to impact the community by sharing their talents as well.A significant part of the growth and development has been the increased fea- tures of technology. It is necessary to keep separate fund accounting for grants, dona- tions, scholarships, investments and man- agement, and more. BCCF has also tried different ways of giving such as online donations and text-to-give. Just as import- ant are online grant requests, sponsorshiprequests, scholarship applications, infor- mation sharing, and more.But it’s not all about technology. While part of their goal is to have a positive im- pact on the direction of Battle Creek, they are still a foundation. “It is important to be aware of the fact that part of our donor base is traditional in the interactions they pre- fer,” added Thomas. He enjoys sitting with donors face to face, setting up memorials, and more. He notes that relationship build- ing and direct contact are critical to the success of many projects. Fitting with that philosophy, every single gift gets a print- ed personal letter signed by CEO Brenda Hunt.In closing Thomas added, “I want to do something that is doing good for the people.” He does not take lightly his role in providing good fiscal responsibility for the treasury of the whole community and being in a position of trust. The staff feels much the same.Battle Creek Community Foundation... for Good, for Ever, for All.THOMAS CROTHERSMEN IN BUSINESS I SCENE 4401 19

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