Hamilton Community Foundation continues to make ‘substantial’ impacts

Credit: pROVIDED

Credit: pROVIDED

The Hamilton Community Foundation has done a lot with the money entrusted to it, just as it has done with Georgia Luke’s bequest five decades ago of $15,092.

That $15,000 has provided more than $70,000 in gifts over the years, and in 2023, the Georgia Lukes Fund provided nearly $2,000 in community support.

This fund was started in 1973 through the estate of Mrs. Lukes, a former cleaning person for First National Bank. She wanted to ensure minority students were able to continue their education, and knew the foundation could help, according to the fund.

The nearly $2,000 provided by the Lukes Fund is part of the $850,000-plus distributed by the Hamilton Community Foundation’s unrestricted grants, dollars that allow the organization to annually direct funds to the most pressing needs of the community.

The unrestricted grants, however, represent just a portion of gifts made through the foundation. Scholarships and other donor-directed gifts are a big part of the foundation’s giving, and in total, all giving in 2023 added up to more than $9 million.

This past year has been on par compared to recent years in terms of contributions to the community, said Hamilton Community Foundation President and CEO John Guidugli.

“We try to keep things on a pretty even keel, at least with our unrestricted dollars,” he said. “If the market’s down one year, we don’t want to give away less, and if the market’s up, we don’t want to give away more.”

For its restricted giving, such as for scholarships and annual gifts to a specific non-profit, the foundation also stays pretty consistent, Guidugli said.

“The big difference we’ll see from year to year are gifts out of donor-advised funds,” he said. “(The donor) might choose to give more away in one year than another year for various reasons.”

Since its inception in 1951, the foundation has provided more than $160 million in gifts, grants and scholarships, and this had only been possible through the tens of thousands of donors who’d given to the foundation.

This past Christmas Eve, the Hamilton Community Foundation turned 72, and looking forward, the foundation believes the three Gs of any community foundation ― Gather financial gifts from the community, Grow the gifts, and Gift them back to the community.

Heading into 2024, giving is expected to stay consistent with past years, which will be a little shy of $1 million in unrestricted grants and around $9 million, give or take.

But in the 72 years of the foundation, which started with a single gift of $5,000 in 1951, the organization has had a “substantial” impact on the community.

“Initially, the growth was kind of slow, but in recent years, we’ve really ramped things up,” Guidugli said. “I think if you look around the community, it’s pretty hard to see projects we’re not involved with. Usually, if something substantial happens in the community, the foundation is at the table, and it’s usually a big part of making that occur.”


Here are a few beneficiaries that received some of the larger unrestricted grants and gifts in 2023:

  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton: $125,000
  • Booker T. Washington Center: $100,000
  • Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park: $65,000
  • Fitton Center: $50,000
  • Butler County Educational Services Center: $31,000
  • StreetSpark: $30,000

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