One Hundred New Philanthropists: Phil and Kathy Vogelsang


Ada residents and devoted Grand Rapidians, Kathy and Phil Vogelsang support causes that are local, visible and personally meaningful. Their passions lie with medical and educational nonprofits, and, when these intersect with children, they’re willing to give of themselves as volunteers and donors.

Events meant to raise awareness and funds, along with personal relationships and experiences, often bring the couple into a relationship with a nonprofit. “We come to much of our philanthropy through friends who are involved with causes and know firsthand how the work gets done. It is important for us to have personal relationships with people in organizations,” Phil said. An exception to this was an event sponsored by the Literacy Center that fostered a new giving relationship. “That’s one we were blindsided by. We went to an event the Literacy Center sponsored, but really never knew a thing about it. We liked what we heard and saw, and we’ve been supporters ever since,” he said. Other nonprofits they support include Van Andel Institute, Grand Valley State University, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Ele’s Place, CASA of Kent County and Ada Arts Council.

What do you get from giving?
“It’s great when the wealthiest people give back to the community, but giving back is something everyone can do. Sustainability of an organization depends on the contributions of many,” Phil said. Kathy believes so much in grassroots funding that she created West Michigan 100 Strong. Each member donates $100 four times a year. The group collectively chooses a local nonprofit during each quarter. “Usually it is a smaller charity that doesn’t get a lot of funding, and what we do makes a difference in their work,” Kathy said. “There are hundreds of small nonprofits in Kent County where a few hundred or a few thousand dollars can really help them do their job,” Phil said. The group has raised and granted around $90,000 since its existence.

“It’s our duty to give back—we’re able and it is the right thing to do,” Kathy said.

Why Grand Rapids Community Foundation?
“The Community Foundation wraps up all the things we care about—education, health and children. It is here to enrich our community, and that’s important to us. When we were working on our estate plan and thinking about how we could spread what we have to the most people in our community, the Community Foundation came to mind and made a lot of sense,” Kathy said. “We’ve been involved with the Community Foundation for a many years and see good things happening. The people who work there and those who support it are powerhouses,” Phil said.