Helping Clients Keep It Local

Presque Isle attorney and former Aroostook County Committee member Richard Engels has seen how the Maine Community Foundation can help both charitable individuals and nonprofit organizations. He discusses some of his experiences in this interview with Jennifer Southard, vice president, donor services and gift planning.


Richard Engels

Richard Engels attends the groundbreaking for
the Rodney Smith Wellness Center and Akeley
Student Center at Northern Maine Community
College in Presque Isle on May 15, 2013.
The project received a grant from the
AroostookCounty Fund.
Photo by Ken Lamb, Sha~Lam Photography

MaineCF: Is there a question you typically ask potential donors?

Richard Engels: I usually ask if they have any charitable intent and then start talking about some things they could do. If clients haven’t heard about the Maine Community Foundation before, I’ll suggest that they start a donor-advised fund with the minimum amount: Start small, and if you like what happens, increase it.

MaineCF: How has the Maine Community Foundation been a resource for nonprofits in your area?

Engels: When I was chair of the Aroostook County Committee, we visited area high schools and found that a lot of them were not managing their scholarship funds sophisticatedly. Some of the funds were in checking accounts or certificates of deposit, for example. As a result of these visits, a few schools have improved their practices and several more have placed their funds with the community foundation.

MaineCF: Do you have a favorite community foundation client story?

Engels: I’ve worked with some people from the Ashland area who have set up funds, both for education and for community development. None of them were extremely rich, but they were making a significant contribution of their wealth in order to be able to do good.

MaineCF: As you look back over your time on the Aroostook County Committee, do you have a favorite grant or two that the committee made?

Engels: We awarded a couple of grants to the Association culturelle et historique du Mont-Carmel in its efforts to restore a Roman Catholic church in the town of Lille, which is now the site of the Musée culturel du Mont-Carmel. It’s an absolutely gorgeous building that would’ve been in ruins today but for grants like the ones we made.

MaineCF: Anything else you’d like to add regarding the role of the financial advisor?

Engels: Mentioning philanthropy early is important because some people are reticent about that topic until somebody asks them, at which point they might say, “I can’t do much now, but maybe I can do some more later.” Some of them actually do come back, and I try to help them make the best choices to meet their charitable goals.

Richard Engels is an attorney with Bemis & Rossignol, LLC, in Presque Isle. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Bowdoin College and his J.D. from Columbia University. Among his many community activities, Engels is a member of the Presque Isle City Council; serves on the Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems Corporate Board; and is a co-founder, officer, and coach for Aroostook Football.