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Then / Now / Next

75 years ago, when Harrison M. Sayre and his fellow civic leaders stepped forward to create The Columbus Foundation, they could not have known the enduring power of their philanthropic gesture. They could not have foreseen the exponential impact their act of kindness would have. At the time, what they did know for certain was that they believed in the notion of building a better society.

While that idea is lofty even today, consider the context in which those citizens found themselves back then: war raging across both the Atlantic and the Pacific while the lingering effects of The Great Depression were still being felt. It would have been understandable if these founders had simply hunkered down and waited for a sense of normalcy to return to their lives. Thankfully, these citizens felt a spirit of generosity that drove them to do more in the interest of a better society.

This idea of advancing our community’s collective good has guided the words and deeds of The Columbus Foundation since its formation. As we celebrate 75 years of working to strengthen and connect our community, we are reminded of the Foundation’s founding goal to become “the expression of many givers, small and large, in the future happiness and well-being of the community of which they are a part.”

The word that strikes me most here is “future.” For, while these citizens certainly cared for the people who lived in their community at the time, they were aware that the generosity they expressed was an investment in the lives of many more to come. They wanted their generosity to extend beyond their immediate circumstances to benefit future generations of central Ohioans.

It is that spirit of optimism and foresight that grounded former Mayor Coleman’s assertion that “Columbus’ best days are always ahead.” Indeed, it is around that sense of forward-looking confidence and pride in our city that we feel our donors’ generosity coalesce most strongly.

Looking ahead, we know Columbus is poised to be one of the great cities of the 21st century. We know the opportunities that exist here in our smart and open community are greater than almost anywhere else. How we provide access to those opportunities to allow all residents to flourish will be a critical test of our time. To ensure our success, we must be willing to do more, to give more, and to be more generous of ourselves, because securing the happiness and wellbeing of the greater good and our future generations is still as noble an endeavor now as it was in 1943.

Onward, in the spirit of generosity.


PS - The Foundation’s 75th anniversary is tomorrow, Saturday, December 29. And what better way to celebrate our anniversary than to give everyone a chance to explore our community together? Please join us then for The Big Explore.


Dec 28, 2018



Douglas F. Kridler is the President and CEO of The Columbus Foundation.