Legacy Spotlight: Donna Riley & Joe Wayne

An introduction to philanthropy is a personal, organic experience for most people. For Donna Riley and Joe Wayne, their involvement came at completely contrasting points in their lives:

Donna: I don’t think philanthropy was ever NOT part of my life.

Joe: Honestly, I wouldn’t have known what philanthropy even was growing up.

Despite vastly different commitments to service in their youth, both Donna and Joe have devoted much of their adult lives to giving back in various ways to their communities. Now, after 18 years of marriage, this duo has their sights set on their next ambitious goal: legacy giving.

“I know my days are in fewer numbers with each passing moment,” Donna says. “And I don’t have kids that I can pass things on to – I have my nieces and nephews, which are like my kids. So, to have something to be able to pass along to them is exciting. It might not be a typical family bequest gift, but I know they’re going to get something so much better because of this fund.”

Growing Up in Southern Indiana

Donna Riley comes from a family of do-ers.

Growing up, her family was active in community service. She hesitates to use the word ‘philanthropic’ because they didn’t always give monetarily. Instead, they were always mobile – always doing.

“For me growing up, there wasn’t any other way of life,” Donna says. “We just always did, and we gave. To see that, and to be part of it at such a young age, I learned that you just always did for others. I saw my mom and dad do it daily. So for me, giving back is just a way to honor my parents for that beautiful way of life.”

A Hamburg, Ind. native, Joe experienced more of a blue-collar upbringing. His father worked at the same place for 35 years, punching the clock and picking up additional jobs as he could manage. His mother was an RN, before she became a stay-at-home mother to Joe and his four brothers.

While money was scarce at times, Joe’s parents always gave generously to the church, as well as paying for the five boys’ tuition at Providence High School.

“My parents did a good job because we didn’t know we were poor,” Joe says. “We weren’t the benefactors of any philanthropy. But when my mother died, there was only $1,000 left in her estate. That was it. So, giving back financially was just something they weren’t able to do. So for me, I was really not aware of, nor was I involved in, any philanthropy before I met Donna.”

The Start of Something Good

Joe and Donna’s relationship ignited at a local fitness center in the early 2000s.

“And yes, we still go to that fitness center,” Joe says, smiling.

While their nuptials kicked off a new journey in their lives together, both Donna and Joe were also discovering things about themselves separately.

For 14 years, Joe had worked as the Assistant Superintendent for Greater Clark County Schools before transitioning to Ivy Tech Community College in 2008, where he coordinated dual credit programs for high schools for the seven-county region.

Once he retired, he had a moment of reflection while speaking with a family member one morning.

“Since I retired, I felt like maybe God isn’t through with me yet,” says Joe. “I have a cousin who is ex-military, and we were having coffee one morning. He was talking all about working with CASA of Floyd County. I started looking into that, and I thought, you know, it’s time I get involved with that cause.”

Inspired by seeing Donna’s generosity first-hand, Joe decided to get involved with supporting CASA and its initiatives.

“What I’ve learned from that experience is that there is a myriad of local agencies who support those who are dealing with at-risk children,” Joe says. “When you’re teaching, you want to think that you’re making a difference, but you never see the finished product. With these CASA cases, maybe you can see some successes sometimes.”

Donna, on the other hand, had her eyes set on an even larger prize.

After working extensively in the local insurance industry for more than 30 years, she was introduced to Leadership Southern Indiana, a nonprofit organization focused on developing regional leaders. Through that organization, she was able to meet a variety of people from local nonprofits who shared her sentiments toward giving back.

Two of those people she met stood out above all the others: Hazel Bales and Alice Miles. Hazel was a local humanitarian and former CFSI Board Member, while Alice served as chair of Friends of the Town Clock Church and as a Multicultural Outreach Specialist for the Community Foundation – but both were instrumental in the founding and creation of the Women’s Foundation, a former fund held at CFSI.

“When I was on the Women’s Foundation board of directors, I got to work with both Hazel and Alice, have them as role models,” Donna says. “It was like, my goodness! I get to learn from these two women who I respect so much.”

The commitment to service the pair shared stuck with Donna. Deep down, Hazel and Alice inspired her to do more with the Women’s Foundation, a cause they all shared an affinity for. She wanted to do more. Be bigger. Have a greater impact.

Once just a program of the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, Donna helped the organization grow from the Women’s Foundation of Southern Indiana to Impact100 Southern Indiana, eventually leaving the CFSI nest and becoming its own nonprofit. (In 2023, the organization awarded a $140,000 grant to Open Door Youth Services to purchase new vans and upgrade dormitories.)

While Donna is adamant that countless others played a role in Impact100’s success, Joe is quite certain much of it had to do with his wife’s ambition and persistence.

“Don’t let her sell herself short,” Joe says. “Donna is a disciple. She has an amazing network of people who know and trust her. It’s at the point now that when I go to events with her, I introduce myself as Mr. Donna Riley because people immediately know there is a connection. She is involved with so many people because she is very highly respected. She spreads the gospel in more ways than one.”

Beginning a Legacy with CFSI … For Generations

Twenty-five dollars.

In 2003, Donna Riley first became involved with the Community Foundation following a $25 gift to the Community Impact Fund. It was a simple gift, but it marked the beginning of a beautiful partnership.

Soon, that one-time gift became another. And another. And another.

Before long, Donna had set aside enough money ($1,000) to create a pass-through donor advised fund to help navigate her giving. That way, she could constantly add to her fund, using it to support all the causes she was interested in.

“I set up the fund initially because I was able to,” Donna says. “There is no question why we’re here – it’s to be servants and to give back. So, for me, there was no question as to ‘why’ I gave. It’s just the way that it is for me. And I’m so thankful and blessed that I can do that.”

As Donna continued contributing to her fund through the years, she noticed that the balance was edging closer to the minimum for an endowment fund. An endowment fund, which is established at $15,000, is a permanent fund that will continue in perpetuity – something her pass-through fund couldn’t achieve.

Changing course, Donna contributed the additional funding needed from her fund to become endowed, and like that, the Donna Riley and Joe Wayne Charitable Endowment Fund was born.

“I’m not sure when the light switched on for me, but I thought about having the possibility of being able to do something like this for my nieces and nephews. I just started to build it and eventually, it became endowed,” Donna says. “I know my days are fewer with each passing moment. Without having kids, I wanted to be able to pass something along to them. So, when I was able to, I went into the Community Foundation offices and transferred some stocks to get up to the allotted amount. Now that it’s done and endowed, it’s exciting to know that it’s there, and my family will have the ability to build off that.”

But like the true philanthropists they are, neither Donna nor Joe was satisfied with their endowed fund, a goal of theirs for so many years. Despite everything they had accomplished so far for their family, they wanted to leave one final gift – a bequest gift to the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana.

Following their passing, both Donna and Joe have separate bequest funds that will benefit causes and organizations in their names for future generations.

“It was important to have a legacy here because I wanted to see it grow,” Donna says. “If I were to go now, what would be my legacy? Having this bequest fund gives me peace of mind knowing that it’s going to continue to give and grow. It’s just a natural thing for me, and there’s no better place to leave it. Simply, it’s giving toward where your heart is.”

To educate her family, Donna took the time to write her nieces and nephews a letter explaining the fund and its purpose. They are also listed on the fund as trustees upon her passing, which she hopes will encourage and inspire them to always give back.

For Joe, he is adamant that he has simply followed Donna’s lead when it comes to service.

“I will tell you, I was ignorant about all of this. Donna has, literally, been my source,” Joe says. “Honestly, never in my life would I have imagined that I would have enough money to leave something to my two boys and grandson, let alone do more. Now, because of Donna and with the help of good fortune, I am going to have enough to do both. She has educated and motivated me to be a part of this philanthropic community in so many ways.

“It takes me back to when I taught. I told my students that we are motivated in life by four things: we want to live, we want to love/be loved, we want to learn, and we want to leave a legacy. My mother and father’s legacy were their five sons. I now have an opportunity to have my name associated with philanthropy and leaving a legacy. That’s not just me – that’s also for my family.”

Because these funds are so personal to Donna and Joe, there was no hesitation about where these funds should live: the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana.

“For me, I trusted CFSI because I got to know the people,” Donna says. “There is a personal relationship and from that, a trust is developed. CFSI is so easy to work with, and they have been so helpful in guiding us through these steps of different ways our giving can be done. There are so many tools and opportunities through the Foundation that I just couldn’t dream of working with anybody else.”

For Donna, she now gets to live out her days without worrying about what will happen to her community once she and Joe have passed. With her faith in her family, and her trust in the Community Foundation, Donna knows Clark and Floyd counties will be in good hands in the future.

“I’ve always thought that you can just hand someone $1,000 – but if you give them something else to learn and grow from, it will turn into something so much more,” Donna says. “I am hopeful my family will continue to learn about philanthropy and what’s going on in the community. I can already see that with some of them. But it’s comforting to know that once I’m gone, they are still here to continue giving back. And then one day, they can pass the torch on to their kids.

“It’s beautiful.”

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