One Hundred New Philanthropists: Laurie Finney Beard

Like many people, her family’s influence shaped Laurie Finney Beard’s views about giving. She cites her father, whom she describes as generous with his time and financial support for many charitable organizations, as an important influence. She has been a donor to Grand Rapids Community Foundation for nearly two decades, and, over the years, has become more involved and active as a Community Foundation Trustee. “I’ve increased my giving, primarily due to how much I’ve learned about the terrific work done by all the professionals here. The staff is so passionate about our community, our donors and our grant recipients alike,” Laurie said.

She gives to many locally focused nonprofits, especially those that support women, children, education and organ donation. “I also support the Paul Beard Memorial Scholarship Fund, established in the name of my son at his college alma mater, the Rhode Island School of Design,” she said. Laurie serves on the Gift of Life Foundation board, and she worked with the Michigan Secretary of State’s office to declare April as Donate Life Month, also in memory of her son Paul. She’s on the board of Transplant Games of America, which hosts a national multi-sport festival every two years to promote organ, eye and tissue donation. She’s also on the verge of being a six-gallon blood donor.

What do you get from giving?
“I grew up in a rural town, and, especially in the spring, there was a particular odor in the air that the farmers would say ‘smelled like money.’ As I think about it, I can relate that to a line from a Thornton Wilder play: ‘Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow.’ Grand Rapids has been very good to me, and I feel some responsibility to give back to my community and help others in need. Knowing that I’m involved, and helping to make just a little difference in someone’s life, is a good feeling that I plan to continue the rest of my days.” 

Why Grand Rapids Community Foundation?
“I’ve been in the financial services field for 35 years, and I trust my instincts in determining whether advice is high quality or not. In my opinion, Grand Rapids Community Foundation is top-notch when it comes to their professional staff, as well as in their commitment to building long relationships based on trust and mutual respect. They have definitely earned my trust and confidence, and I’m proud to support them both financially and with my time. The Community Foundation’s current tag line excites me: Big Change: It Can Happen Here!