Roots In the Community

Bill Kieffer and Jim MayA love of skiing brought Bill Kieffer and Jim May to Bethel, Maine. A love of Maine, with its sense of community and close connections, has kept them in Bethel long after they ceased buying season passes to the slopes.

Kieffer and May set out to rent a simple, low-maintenance condo, but a 200-year-old farmhouse with views across a dairy farm to mountain sunsets enchanted them. They also maintain a home in Boston, where May works as an architect at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and another place in California.

While Kieffer and May have been involved in philanthropy in all three locales, it is Maine that has inspired their most spirited charitable giving, including a bequest to the Maine Community Foundation.

They feel that they can truly make a difference in Maine and watch the impact of their charitable giving. Kieffer first became interested in MaineCF as he was planning to retire from his position as vice president and senior consultant at Boston's State Street Corporation.

Knowing there were estate implications, he worked with estate planner Carolyn Wollen. He had considered creating his own foundation, but Wollen explained how the Maine Community Foundation works and highlighted its investment record. Further discussion made it clear that a charitable remainder trust at the foundation could best serve their philanthropic mission in Maine.

In the end, Kieffer and May decided to create two charitable trusts that will benefit Maine through MaineCF. One is unrestricted; the second, still being formulated, will likely be devoted to addressing some of the education needs of the state.

"We know our bequest will be used well," Kieffer states. The two men admire the foundation's role in increasing charitable resources in the state. "MaineCF is a major force for philanthropy in Maine," says Kieffer; "It acts as a catalyst, bringing together donors and issues." Adds May, "It's always nice knowing that generosity has a real face."

Kieffer became a director of the Maine Community Foundation in 2003 and also serves as an advisor on MaineCF's Equity Fund and the Oxford County Committee.

In the latter role, he finds that being an advisor has helped him to understand the needs of Oxford County and the creativity of its people on a much deeper level. This volunteer work has also furthered his appreciation of MaineCF's impact on the region.

"Few other foundations create as strong a bond with the involved communities," Kieffer notes. In Oxford, as with MaineCF's other county funds, each committee advisor becomes an advocate for one or more grant seeker during the review process. "That's the fun part," says Kieffer. "We talk to the applicants and then present their proposal to the other county advisors. It's a great opportunity to learn about the nonprofits operating in the community."

"Other foundations do that," notes May, "but Maine does it better. The roots are truly in the community, which is where everything is happening." He adds, "We have more than enough for ourselves. Leaving a bequest with the Maine Community Foundation is our legacy."