Building on a Foundation of Generosity

Published on July 31st, 2017

The Lutheran Foundation’s Legacy of Stewardship

The Lutheran Foundation (TLF) maintains a rich history of grant making to local Lutheran ministries and community organizations with the goal of improving and enhancing quality of life for all. In 2013, The Lutheran Foundation board and CEO, Marcia Haaff, sharpened their community focus by asking a pivotal question: “What are the gaps in services in the community and how can The Lutheran Foundation be an intentional and impactful investor?”

The Lutheran Foundation, as we know it today, was formed in 1995 after the sale of Lutheran Hospital on West Jefferson Boulevard in Fort Wayne. They received $137 million for the sale which formed the corpus of their Foundation. TLF serves ten counties in Northeast Indiana and has awarded over $162 million since its inception. Their vision is to promote spiritual, mental, and physical well-being for all people.

“The Foundation recognizes the importance of being good stewards with these resources that belong to God,” says Rev. Dr. Dennis Goff, Director of Ministry Programs, “The Lutheran Foundation works to conscientiously manage those resources well.”

The Lutheran Foundation has two focus areas: Partnering with the Lutheran Community (PLC) and Building a Healthier Community (BHC). PLC includes 95 Lutheran congregations, 18 Lutheran schools, and over a dozen Lutheran ministries. Two-thirds of the churches served are congregations of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

One way the Foundation encourages good stewardship among the Lutheran schools is through the establishment of the Matching Endowment Program. Since 2009, TLF has strongly encouraged all 18 schools to raise new funds each year that will be matched by The Lutheran Foundation and placed in an endowment. TLF’s goal with this is to assist schools in long-term financial sustainability.

In addition to supporting Lutheran organizations, the Foundation also awards grants to organizations throughout Northeast Indiana. For example, the Foundation studied community needs and found that less than 1% of area resources were funding mental and behavior health and wellness. A ten-county assessment study further revealed a lack of essential resources, limited access to care, and significant stigma related to mental and behavioral health needs. In response, the Foundation is investing in the development of the online resource designed to connect people with mental and behavioral health providers, information, and resources.

With a focus on critical issues like mental and behavioral health and the advancement of mission and ministry, The Lutheran Foundation exemplifies that wisely stewarding God’s resources can benefit the community in powerful ways as they seek to heal our community with hope.