Community foundations were conceived almost 100 years ago out of concern that Civil War-era trust funds were languishing and their stated purposes had become obsolete. Frederic Goff, a banker and lawyer, founded the first community foundation in Cleveland in 1914. Goff's idea was to place charitable trusts under a common governing body with "variance power," which provided a legal ability to redirect charitable funds if the donor's original intent became obsolete.
Following Cleveland's lead, TFEC was founded in 1920 (as The Harrisburg Foundation) by Donald McCormick, then president of Dauphin Deposit Bank. The Foundation grew slowly during its first 60 years. In fact, by 1980, the assets of The Foundation had grown only to about $300,000. The Foundation's governing body then embarked on a strategy to ensure relevance to future generations, and hired the first staff person. Charitable assets under management grew by tenfold over the next decade, and then tenfold again in the following decade. Today, TFEC's assets represent tens of millions of dollars, all for charitable benefit of our communities.
TFEC has introduced new products and services to encourage philanthropy and meet charitable needs within our diverse communities. In 2001, our reputation and expertise in the philanthropic sector was enhanced by the adoption of a donor-impact philosophy. We now encourage donors, with contributions of any size and type, to take an active role in their philanthropy, to leverage The Foundation for maximum impact, and to think broadly about how TFEC can help them achieve their meaningful goals.