Landmark Gift Secures Meals For Millions
Leading Seattle philanthropist, Floyd Jones, a man who grew up picking cotton during the Great Depression, is contributing approximately $5 million to Northwest Harvest. The bequest is the single largest gift in the organization’s 50-year history. Jones made this announcement January 16 to Northwest Harvest CEO, Shelley Rotondo, and Donor Relations Manager, Todd Girouard.
“I’ve done well in my life,” the 89-year old Jones reflected, his voice breaking ever so slightly. “It makes for a better community when we support each other. I am proud to be able to do that.”
That Mr. Jones has done well in his life is an understatement. His start in life, as one of 12 children to sharecropper parents in rural Missouri, is about as humble as they come. “We owned practically nothing. I was working in the fields at seven years old. We knew hunger. But we learned the value of hard work and a dollar. Starting when I was around 11 or 12 years old, my daydream was to make money in business and give back to the community.” Mr. Jones, the first and only member of his family to finish high school and go on the college, credits two teachers with helping him succeed in school and then, later, as a stockbroker.
“I was stunned when Floyd told us that he was doing this and was unprepared for the magnitude of it,” reflects long-time Northwest Harvest CEO, Rotondo. “I was especially moved by his personal story of his family struggling in the depression and what a difference an organization like Northwest Harvest would have made. I am so honored, humbled and energized by Floyd’s extraordinary kindness and generosity. This will have such a positive impact on our agency and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for decades to come!”
Adding extra poignancy to this gift is that it came on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, a National Day of Service.
If Northwest Harvest used his entire gift today, it would provide close to 23 million nourishing meals! Because the gift will be left to Northwest Harvest in Mr. Jones’ will, it will be added to an existing endowment at Northwest Harvest as the Floyd and Delores Endowed Fund.
The exact amount of the bequest, which will create this endowed fund, depends on the future performance of securities markets, but it is conservatively estimated to be about $5 million. Northwest Harvest will invest the principal sum and use the income from that investment to procure and deliver food for families in need. The income is expected to come in at approximately $200,000 per year, enough to provide more than 900,000 meals every year at today’s costs.
According to Mr. Jones, Frank Minton, a former board member of Northwest Harvest and one of the world’s leading experts on planned giving, was instrumental in helping inspire and set up this gift in the most beneficial way possible for all concerned.
Mr. Jones added, “It’s going to work out awfully well. I’ll pay some taxes but less than I might. My family approves, and they’ll be fine. I’ll do as much good as possible for about 20 nonprofits, and our entire society benefits. I also know my late wife, Delores, would be tickled. I feel very good about this.”
Floyd and his late wife, Delores Haglund Jones, have given away millions of dollars to various causes, including Virginia Mason Medical Center, the ACLU, the University of Washington, KCTS, Planned Parenthood, and others.
CEO Rotondo truly appreciates the full-circle moment of this extraordinary gesture. “I can’t help thinking that Floyd’s experience, his parents struggling to feed their family during hard times, was very much like many of the people who come to our food banks. And now, years later, look what he’s able to do. It’s such a profound testament to hope, hard work, determination, and the American dream. Thank you, Floyd!”