Park board mulls endowment fund

Seneca County Park District’s board gathered information on starting an endowment fund and heard an update on the progress of its strategic planning committee Tuesday.

The board recently began scheduling committee of the whole meetings between regular board meetings because various board members are taking over the responsibilities of the director. Director Pat Obringer has resigned as director, effective the end of the year, but plans to remain an active volunteer. The board has decided not to look into hiring another director until the results of the strategic planning process are known.

Board members Roy Zinn and Bill McAllister, who attended the meeting, heard a presentation from Jodie Reinbolt and Brent Howard of Tiffin Charitable Foundation regarding creating a park district endowment fund.

McAllister, former director of Fostoria’s Geary Family YMCA, said he thinks every nonprofit organization should have an endowment fund. Since he was appointed to the board in February, he said he has noticed there is a large number of active volunteers.

“I see the potential of these people and they’re passionate about the parks and they’re, for the most part, in that age group where they’re thinking about estate planning,” he said. “It seems natural to support the organization you’re passionate about.”

McAllister said a volunteer has offered to provide $5,000 as seed money for the fund.

People could give money to get it started now, he said, and then remember the park district in their estate plan.

“This gives us both avenues,” Zinn said.

Zinn said the board is considering TCF because the foundation would handle administration and investment management.

“When an entity sets up a fund within Tiffin Charitable Foundation, it does make it attractive because (potential donors) believe it is designed to be in perpetuity,” Howard said.

He said TCF handles several other endowment funds with other nonprofit organizations, and the board would determine when to take distributions and other details.

Reinbolt said the fund would be listed in TCF’s annual report, which helps with marketing.

If a donation was made to benefit a specific park, Reinbolt said it would be up to the park board to maintain records to make sure the correct amount of money went to the specific park. But Howard said he recommends donations be made to the park district as whole.

“If you’re having some entity manage funds for you, it’s very comforting to me to have Tiffin Charitable Foundation management because their whole goal is to benefit the community,” Zinn said.

If the board approves starting the fund, McAllister said he would like to kick off the donations with the $5,000 already offered and conduct a startup campaign of “charter donors” encouraging other people to also make donations.

Reinbolt said she would be happy to assist with a campaign by sending thank-you letters to donors who sent money directly to TCF.

McAllister also gave an update on the strategic plan under way.

He said 229 people have taken part in an online survey sponsored by the committee, in addition to face-to-face interviews with township trustees, county officials and many agency and organization representatives.

So far, he said seven main topics have been condensed from 17 original questions the committee addressed.

A meeting designed to prioritize the main topics has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 8 before to the board’s 7 p.m. meeting in the conference room the RTA Building downtown.

Anyone interested in taking part in the survey should click the link on the park district website,, or go directly to