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An anonymous donor recently gave a record $2 million to The Foundation of Greater Greensboro, marking a major breakthrough in the 6-year-old group's efforts to spur more philanthropy.

``We think this moves us forward very strongly as far as our impact in the community,' said John Ellison Jr., a Greensboro businessman who heads the group's board of directors. ``We also hope this will draw attention to the foundation and inspire others to come forward.'Ellison said the anonymous donor has asked that interest from $1 million of the gift go toward charities of her choice, with the rest of the money going into the unrestricted fund. Assuming an 8 percent return, the donation should produce more than $150,000 annually for area causes.

The foundation was formed in 1983 by insurance executive Roger Soles, former U.S. Rep. L. Richardson Preyer, civic leader Cynthia Doyle and several others to provide an organized way for local citizens to share their wealth with the community. Many other cities have similar organizations, including the 70-year-old Winston-Salem Foundation, which has assets of more than $28 million.

The organizers also felt that Greensboro lacked a source of start-up funding for new programs dealing with problems such as AIDS, drug abuse and teen pregnancy, Ellison said.

The latest donation puts the group's assets at more than $8 million, up from $4.9 million six months ago. It is more than four times as large as the group's previous largest donation, Ellison said.

``The gift really represents the culmination of everyone's work over the past seven years,' said Worth Durgin, the group's executive director.

The donor had not been a previous supporter of the foundation. ``She really sees this as a way to help the community,' he said.

Money donated to the foundation is invested in stocks and bonds in funds managed by Wachovia Bank & Trust Co., with interest from the investments used for grants. An investment committee, headed by Jefferson-Pilot Corp. executive Jack Warmath, oversees the funds.

During its last fiscal year, which ended June 30, the foundation gave away nearly $18,000 from its unrestricted endowment funds and about $265,000 from funds in which donors identify the charities to which they are giving.

Money from the foundation was used in 1989 for dozens of causes, including building six homes for low-income citizens in Greensboro; helping send the Dudley High School Marching Band to a festival in Europe; and providing kitchen equipment for Camp Joy, a nonprofit camp for children with cancer-type illnesses.

The foundation's office is located in the First Citizens building in downtown Greensboro. For more information, call 379-9100 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.


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