Two People, One Mission

Legacy Spotlight: Mr. & Mrs. Phil & Sandy McCauley

Phil and Sandy McCauley are two different people – but in values and commitment to others, they are the same.

Both originally from Madison, Ind., Phil was raised by two philanthropically-motivated parents who passed their beliefs down to their children. The family was so community oriented that Phil’s father was even tabbed by the Madison Courier newspaper as “the most valuable person to ever live in this city.”

“My parents were both generous people, and we were brought up to always think of others,” Phil recalls. “When my father retired, he would take me to the nursing homes with him. He would simply go and visit every person in that nursing home. He would take their hand and tell a joke, make them laugh. He was a Rotarian who spent a lot of energy doing a lot of good work. It was just a way of life for him.”

Sandy’s early life was also rooted in philanthropy, but her upbringing was a little different than Phil’s. Sandy was raised by a single parent mother, and often found that she had a natural affinity for helping families in similar situations to her own.

“I think in a small town, you get exposed to these spectrums of what people’s lives are like. And even though we didn’t have much, I got to see how blessed and fortunate we were in our life’s situation, and how a lot of other people weren’t,” Sandy recalls.

Building a Better Southern Indiana

After Phil and Sandy married in college, they returned to the Kentuckiana area. Phil began his public accounting career with Yeager, Ford and Warren CPAs in Louisville before becoming managing partner of McCauley Nicolas and Company in New Albany, where he stayed for 25 years. Upon retirement, he spent time as the Deputy Mayor of Jeffersonville, a City Council member, and participated on multiple nonprofit advisory boards.

Sandy raised the couple’s four small children while taking classes at Indiana University Southeast. After 21 years of part-time schooling, she successfully concluded her educational journey with two Master’s and one Bachelor’s degrees. Despite being a full-time mother, student, and wife, Sandy never stopped giving back to her community. And Phil noticed her dedication.

“I think I was influenced a lot by Sandy. I used to call her the ‘Original Tennessee Volunteer’ because she was always out there pounding the pavement and working hard,” Phil says. “She was spending 60 hours a week working and still volunteering. At the time, I always thought ‘Well, what’s the point of all that?’ Then … I became a convert.”

Sandy re-introduced the idea of giving back to Phil, something he always had a passion for. However, it was a visit to the Home of the Innocents in Louisville that left a truly profound impact on him.

“I remember the first time I went to the Home of the Innocents in downtown Louisville. I didn’t know such things existed,” Phil recalls. “I went there, and I saw these little kids. I, literally, staggered out – I could barely stand up. These were some really tough situations, where they took kids from just disastrous backgrounds. It was tough.”

When the Home of the Innocents wanted to expand their reach to Southern Indiana, Phil was recommended by local officials to support them in their ambitions and introduce the organization to the Southern Indiana landscape. He also served on an Advisory Board to help the organization look for potential philanthropic opportunities in Indiana. During this time, the nonprofit would go on to secure an old stockyard in Louisville for $65 million. In turn, the organization was able to expand their reach – which thanks to Phil’s contributions, included support of Southern Indiana at-risk kids.

“They built quite a campus over there that is just beyond imagination,” Phil says. “They serve thousands of kids and some of them are there 24/7. But those kids wouldn’t have a chance without the Home. It was very meaningful to participate in that expansion with them. I enjoyed the heck out of it.”

While Phil stayed busy with the Home of the Innocents, Sandy turned her attention to other area nonprofit organizations, including CASA for Children, Impact100, and the local food pantry.

“I like the organizations where you really get to meet the people behind them, not just asking for financial support,” Sandy says. “I like getting to know these incredible people and understanding what their world is like. I have had the opportunity to get to know the strength and beauty of those personalities and how well they’ve gotten through life’s difficult journeys.”

A Partnership with CFSI

As more local organizations pop up around Clark and Floyd counties each year, it has become more tedious for Sandy to keep track of requests for financial support. While she recognizes the unique work that each nonprofit is doing, she found it difficult in trying to decide what (and how) to give.

She requested support from the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana (CFSI), an organization the couple had first donated to back in 1997. In 2015, the couple began using annual rollover gifts from their retirement accounts to support their favorite causes, through their annual Phil and Sandy McCauley Charitable Funds. To help their grants match their philanthropic goals, the CFSI staff helped Sandy compose a comprehensive plan to help focus her giving.

“I wanted my giving to be a broad range: I care about the environment, children, health, violence,” Sandy says. “I’m not going to fix any of those things by myself. But by sitting down and making a comprehensive list, I feel like I have made a statement about how important all of those causes are to me. So now, when other mailings and requests come in, I know I have played my part and it’s not overwhelming. I love knowing that when the decisions are made, I don’t have to keep track of anything – I trust CFSI to do that.”

Phil, on the other hand, was introduced to the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana through his time in politics and nonprofit work. However, he credits his initial attraction to the organization to the causes they supported.

“They support organizations that do a lot of good work, like Align Southern Indiana and Impact100. They supported the Homeless Coalition, where I was the Interim Director for a while,” Phil says. “I feel like they are very competent, which makes things easy for me. And they offer many different ways to give.”

In addition to the couple’s annual charitable fund, they also set up a permanent endowment fund to benefit the Home of the Innocents. The fund is invested for long term growth, and each year, CFSI makes a grant of 4% of the fund balance to the organization, which will continue each year for generations. Phil and Sandy find security in knowing that their fund will continue to support the Home of the Innocents, in their name, for perpetuity; and that the CFSI staff will oversee their charitable intent, even when they are no longer here to do so.

“We chose to do a permanent plan because it’s kind of nice knowing that gift will go on beyond us,” Phil says. “As long as the Home of the Innocents and the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana are around, we will support them. I can’t tell you how reassuring it is to know that.”

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