Ohio Couple Proves Distance a Non-Factor in Giving

Dave and Dorothy Case have never been afraid of a little change of scenery.

Whether it was in Lexington, KY during Dave’s time as a student at the University of Kentucky, or at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida as part of Dorothy’s 20-year career in the Air Force, the Case couple has had the opportunity to live in multiple states throughout the southeastern United States.

One state the couple has never resided in, though, is Indiana. While that can be said for many Americans, why would Dave and Dorothy Case – with seemingly no direct ties to the area – create a fund with the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana?

The answer is simple: a connection.

A Lifelong Friendship

When Dave attended UK in the late-1970s, he was doing what a typical college kid will do: study, play intramural sports, and make some friends. With a background in agriculture, Dave focused his academic time investigating agronomy, which is the science and technology of producing and using plants by agriculture for food, fuel, fiber, recreation, or land conservation.

At the time, there was a classmate who Dave had hit it off with, and the two soon became friends. They started hanging out more, and the friend was even invited to be a “little sister” at his fraternity house, Alpha Gamma Rho.

That friend was Linda Speed, the current President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana.

“We were both agronomy majors and we just started studying together,” Dave recalls. “Linda and I, along with my wife Dorothy and her husband Tom, have just kept in touch all of these years. We moved around some, and they moved around a little, but we have always remained good friends.”

When Linda took over CFSI in 2010, Dave approached her about potentially establishing a Legacy / Designated Fund to support specific organizations important to both he and his wife for future generations. The goal was to establish a fund agreement with no money initially, with wills and trusts set up to send estate gifts to the Foundation upon their deaths.

The future gift would support multiple charities and causes, including their alma maters, fraternal clubs, and support for veterans.

“Originally, we had things set up in our will and trust to bequeath funds to Ohio State University, which is my wife’s alma mater, the University of Kentucky, which is mine alma mater, and my Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity,” Dave says. “But it was all going to be after our passing.”

As the couple researched national and regional nonprofit organizations to give to, Dave discovered a newfound love of philanthropy. And while they were thrilled to lock-in gifts to be given at the time of their passing, both Dave and Dorothy felt compelled to do something during their lifetime.

Thanks to a small financial gain the couple received when bank shares merged, the couple decided to create a pass-through donor advised fund to use during their lifetime to support various causes. So, with the help of Linda and the CFSI staff, the Cases established the David W. & Dorothy S. Case Fund.

all photos by John Coffman

“What we have found as we continue to donate is that it’s so much more fun and gratifying to do it while you’re living,” Dave says. “We have an Ohio State scholarship that is endowed, and last week, we got to meet the student recipient, which is always a great moment. We also have one at Kentucky, and like the Ohio State endowment, it is for agriculture students. Through all of this, we have discovered that doing this giving while you’re living is just so much more rewarding. So much.”

With their donor advised fund, Dave and Dorothy have focused on multiple projects around their hometown of Urbana, Ohio, specifically a bike path located right outside their farm. Since a 25-mile section of the path is not maintained by the city, the Case family – along with other local volunteers – help with its upkeep.

Using funds from the community foundation, Dave was able to help purchase a blower, which can be hooked up to a pick-up truck to help blow leaves off the path.

“Smaller, more local charitable organizations is what we’ve really gone after with our donor advised fund,” Dave says. “We’re helping to add a new agricultural wing for the Champaign County Historical Society. It ends up being a lot of local 501(c)3’s that are close to us and we have interactions with, and it makes it fun to spread it around.”

One of the more meaningful projects the couple embarked on involved two things most sacred to Dorothy: her farm and her family.

In remembrance of Dorothy’s older sister who passed away from pancreatic cancer four years prior, the couple has made plans to donate to pancreatic cancer research charities thanks to some ingenuity. The Cases will open their Ohio family farm to the public in early 2023, hosting yoga sessions with baby goats and selling farm-fresh eggs, along with other craft items like stained glass, woodworking décor, and sewn items.

In turn, the couple has used the net proceeds of those sales to donate to a pancreatic cancer research charity, a cause very near to their hearts. They even have plans to expand their work in the Spring by offering pick-your-own flowers of daffodils, wildflowers, sunflowers, and more.

“We’re just trying to do as much as we can while we’re living, as well as set it up to do as much as we can upon our passing,” Dave says.

Unlike some organizations, the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana allows donors to live anywhere and give to anywhere they like. So even though the CFSI headquarters in New Albany, Ind. is located roughly 200 miles away from the Case family in southwest Ohio, they can still support causes important to them, whether it’s in Ohio, Indiana, or elsewhere in the United States.

And despite the long-distance relationship between the Case’s and CFSI, Dave says he wouldn’t trade this partnership for the world.  “The distance has just been an absolute non-issue. We could start the process online, and they’re literally just a quick call or email away for any questions we might have,” Dave says. “It has just been awesome working with the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana. The staff is super – they make everything so seamless, and they’re very easy to work with. It has truly been a real thrill.”

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